Weekend Update … Non-Roster Invites, Rumors and Matt Garza

The week following the convention was a busy seven days for the Chicago Cubs. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer avoided arbitration with six of the seven arbitration eligible players for the upcoming season … only Matt Garza remains unsigned.

The Cubs continued to sign free agents to minor league contracts. News surfaced Friday that the Cubs had signed utility outfielder Matt Tolbert. Bruce Levine confirmed the signing of Tolbert to a minor league contract that includes an invite to big league camp. Tolbert joined Alfredo Amezaga, Joe Mather, Edgar Gonzalez, Jason Jaramillo and Rodrigo Lopez on the list of players that has signed a minor league contract with the Cubs that includes a NRI to Spring Training. The Cubs are expected to announce the full list of non-roster invitees to big league camp this week … and both Brett Jackson and Trey McNutt should be among the prospects in the system that receive NRIs.

The Cubs have not announced the corresponding move in order to make room on the 40-man roster for Kerry Wood. The Cubs’ big league roster currently stands at 40 players, with one contract pending.

The Cubs picked up a draft pick when Carlos Pena signed with the Rays. Matt Garza discussed his future, trade rumors and the Cubs on XM Radio and Jason McLeod spent a little time on ESPN 1000.

Here is the update …

Matt Garza on MLB Network Radio
Matt Garza spent a little time Friday morning on First Pitch (MLB Network Radio/XM Radio) with Jim Memolo and Todd Hollandsworth.

Matt Garza began the interview by stating that he cannot wait to get to Arizona. He has not been out yet because of his three children that are in school in Chicago.

The trade rumors this winter have not affected him. Garza said, “For me, until I get a call from my agent, nothing is close.” Garza has not received any calls from his agent this off-season. Garza lets his agent handle the business side. He just wants to be kept in the loop.

As for the new front office, it does not matter to Garza. His job is to pitch and win games regardless of who is running the show. Garza said later in the interview that he has faith Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will put together a winner and he would like to stay with the Cubs.

Garza loves Chicago. He loves day games because he is a morning person. He also likes being able to treat baseball like a 9-5 job where he can go home at night and spend time with his kids.

The first year with the Cubs was a learning experience for Garza. He feels like he reestablished himself and gained a lot of confidence. Garza credited Mark Riggins with teaching him how to trust his ability.

Garza is proud of the second half he put together and he feels he will be able to carry his performance into the upcoming season. Confidence is the big key for Garza and he said it all started clicking after a start he had against the Marlins last year (July 14). Garza feels his secondary pitches really improved and he was able to repeat his delivery more consistently.

Garza described the day when Jim Hendry was fired as “crappy” but he knew he had to stay positive for the rest of the year.

Matt Garza would be open to signing an extension with the Cubs. He stressed again how happy he is right now. As for discussing a new contract with the Cubs, Garza said that is something his agent and Jed Hoyer would have to work out.

The Cubs youth movement does not bother Garza. He’s actually excited about it [the youth movement].

Garza began preparing for the upcoming season in November. He’s been working out in a gym daily but is not throwing off a mound yet … he is long-tossing at this point of his off-season program. Garza is throwing indoors and will until he goes out to Arizona.

Matt Garza finished by reiterating how excited he is for the upcoming season and is looking forward to seeing how the new guys workout. Garza explained that it is going to be an exciting season.

“I’m excited, can’t wait. I’m looking forward to getting down to Mesa.”

Carlos Pena
Carlos Pena signed a one-year deal with the Tampa Bay Rays worth a reported $7.25 million. Pena’s return to Tampa is important for the Cubs. By offering Pena salary arbitration and Pena declining, the Cubs will receive a sandwich pick (between first and second round) in this June’s Draft.

The Cubs picked up two additional picks in the draft with Pena and Aramis Ramirez signing with new teams in the off-season … two decisions that history has shown the previous regime would not have done.

While Carlos Pena seemingly took a pay cut from the one-year, $10 million deal he signed with the Cubs for last season, Pena will actually make $12.25 million in 2012 … the Cubs owed him $5 million in deferred money from the contract Jim Hendry inked him to in December of 2010.

Jason McLeod on Talkin’ Baseball
Jason McLeod joined Bruce Levine and Fred Huebner during Talkin’ Baseball (ESPN 1000) Saturday morning.

The interview began with questions about Yoenis Cespedes. McLeod said he did not want to go too far into the Cubs’ evaluation of Cespedes publically. McLeod did describe Cespedes as an intriguing player with a lot of tools. The key for the Cubs is to do a proper evaluation of Cespedes to see what kind of player he could be in the Major Leagues. The Cubs have done a lot of work on him according to McLeod.

Yoenis Cespedes will hit the free agent market fairly soon and McLeod said the Cubs will bid on him.

McLeod chuckled about acquiring Anthony Rizzo for the third time (draft, trade from Red Sox to Padres, trade from San Diego to the Cubs). They feel Rizzo has a bright future and he fits the bill of what the Cubs are looking for … a left-handed power bat that can handle the strike zone and play good defense. McLeod reiterated that he needs time to develop in the minors. McLeod pointed out that Rizzo will play a majority of the season at 22 years old and he has already received valuable playing time in the high levels of the minors … as well as in the majors.

The Cubs’ new regime really loves Rizzo’s makeup both on and off the field.

As for Rizzo possibly playing another position, like a corner outfield spot, he has not played another position. McLeod and the Cubs see Rizzo as a long-term first baseman.

The Cubs just wrapped up their scouting meetings (Tuesday-Friday) and they talked about all of the changes to the organization over four days. They rolled out the new program (Bloomberg Sports) and spent time going over video with scouts as they prepare for the new season (college, high school) leading up to the draft.

McLeod said they are not telling scouts how to look at players but are letting them know what kind of players the Cubs are looking for now.

The changes within the organization will have an impact on the scouts, especially the older ones. McLeod said there would be a learning curve and each scout must make a commitment to mix both philosophies (old school scouting and new school analysis). McLeod did say that several of the older scouts in the organization (20-30 years of scouting experience) admitted to him afterwards that they feel the changes Epstein, Hoyer and McLeod are implementing will make the Cubs better in the long run.

The Cubs Convention was an eye opening experience for McLeod. He admitted the annual fan fest was much bigger than anyone had prepared him for leading up to the event. The Chicago media is kind of what he thought it would be, but it has only been a couple of months. McLeod feels his experience with the Boston media will help.

Jason McLeod was able to spend more time with the Ricketts family during the convention. The family is on board with everything the Cubs’ new front office is doing.

Minor League Signings
Another minor league signing by the Cubs has leaked to the media. According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs signed Matt Tolbert to a minor league contract that includes a non-roster invitation to Spring Training.

The 29-year old (May 4, 1982) utility infielder (second, third and shortstop) played in 87 games for the Twins last year. Tolbert posted a .198/.252/.266/.518 line with 10 doubles and two triples without a home run in 226 plate appearances.

Matt Tolbert’s Page on Baseball-Reference

The Cubs are expected to announce all of their non-roster invitations to Spring Training in the coming week. So far, the Cubs have signed Alfredo Amezaga, Jason Jaramillo, Rodrigo Lopez and Matt Tolbert.

Cubs Payroll
The Cubs have added depth to the organization and at the same time Theo Epstein has also cut the big league payroll.

Over the past two seasons, the Cubs payroll was at an all-time high. It took $142 million to field the team in 2010 and $131 million last year. The Cubs’ new regime has trimmed another $12 million or more off the $131 million spent a year ago according to a report from Bruce Levine. The report did not add in the deferred money owed to Ryan Dempster ($1 million) and Carlos Pena ($5 million) for the year. The $2 million buyout on the final year of Carlos Silva’s contract, the sunk cost of Carlos Zambrano and the final year of Jim Hendry and Mike Quade’s contracts.

Before settling with Matt Garza on a contract for the upcoming season, the Cubs have $109 million committed to what figures to be the 25-man roster on Opening Day and another $3 million to the other 15 players on the big league roster … plus $2 million in medical replacement pay for when players go on the disabled list.

If the Cubs pay Garza $10 million and add a couple of back-up middle infielders that would take the Major League team’s payroll to around $120 million … down $11 million from 2011.

Bruce Levine addressed the Cubs’ payroll during Talkin’ Baseball (ESPN 1000) on Saturday morning. According to Levine, the Cubs are putting the money, not being used on the Major League payroll, towards signing international players and the draft. Levine thinks the Cubs will be extremely aggressive on Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler.

If the Cubs are able to sign either Cespedes or Soler, they would be sticking to the plan they have outlined for the immediate future of the organization.

Cubs Top Prospects
MLB.com has been releasing their lists of the top prospects in the game at each position leading up to the unveiling of the Top 50 Prospects in Baseball Wednesday night (January 25) at 9:00pm CST on the MLB Network.

Several of the Cubs top prospects have made the position prospect lists.

Anthony Rizzo was named as the top first baseman prospect in the game … and Dan Vogelbach came in at no. 10.

Earlier in the week, MLB.com released their list of the top shortstop prospects in the game. The Cubs’ first round pick from last June’s draft, Javier Baez, came in as the eighth best shortstop prospect in the game.

To be eligible for MLB.com’s list, a player must have rookie eligibility and must not have exceeded 130 at-bats or 50 innings pitched in the Major Leagues, or accumulated more than 45 days on the active roster of a Major League club or clubs during the 25-player limit period, excluding time on the disabled list or military service.

News, Notes and Rumors
During an interview during Talkin’ Baseball (ESPN 1000), Bruce Levine joked with Jason McLeod about hoping that Anthony Rizzo is not part of the compensation to the Red Sox for Theo Epstein because he would have to acquire him for a fourth time. McLeod laughed at the scenario but said, “I don’t think it [the compensation for Epstein] will be that.”

According to a report from the Sun-Times, the Cubs continue to modify internal operations with an eye toward belt-tightening in areas besides team payroll, including reducing the daily meal allowance for scouts from $50 to $30.

According to Bruce Levine (Talkin’ Baseball, ESPN 1000), the Cubs could still add a middle infielder to the mix before Opening Day that could end up changing lineup options for Dale Sveum.

Bruce Levine does not think a conversation between the Cubs (Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer) and Tigers (Dave Dombrowski) took place regarding Alfonso Soriano after Victor Martinez was lost for the year … and if it did, the Cubs placed the call to the Tigers. The Cubs and Tigers could not agree on a package for Matt Garza and Levine does not think the two teams could work out a deal that would include Garza and Soriano. Levine, like many of the national writers, thinks Dombrowski will end up signing one of the available free agents to fill their DH void.

Yoenis Cespedes will likely need a month or two in the minors before being ready to play in the majors. Levine explained Saturday morning that if the Cubs sign him and once he is ready, he would jump right into the centerfield job. Levine could see a Cubs outfield consist of Brett Jackson, Yoenis Cespedes and Matt Szczur in the next year and a half … or so.

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

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Quote of the Day

"What scares me is what scares you. We're all afraid of the same things." - John Carpenter

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  • SuzyS

    It is such an exciting time to be a Cub fan. We have a President/GM/Manager etc…with a fresh new philosophy…and guess what???
    They are undefeated!!!!
    No the team that introduced the college of coaches, was too cheap to pay Bill Madlock…and was happy with 1 – 300 people in the bleachers (with the upper decks closed off) Now has an owner that actually cares for his investment….And shows it.
    I suspect the team this summer may look as bad as the teams with Peter LaCock and Lindy McDaniel on them…But with a big difference…Good Management and Direction.
    Yup, I’m excited…BUT the cynicism is just doing pushups in the back
    of my brain.  God, I hope long enough to see the Cubs do it.
    Please guys, it’s baseball…remember to make it strong “up the middle” before you do anything else.
    Go Cubs !!!

    • Ripsnorter1

      Susy:

      Are you okay? I love your posts, but you have me concerned. 

      You cannot soberly think that Chris Volsted, Paul Malholm and ChiChi Rodriguez form the foundation of a winning rotation. All the arms they have added, save possibly Travis Wood, are very marginal major league quality. 
      Tell me, how does collecting a bunch 30 year old arms–of AA and AAA quality–show that Mr. Ricketts cares?

      Positionally, DeJesus and Ian Stewart are way worse than Funko and Aram. LaHair is below even Pena’s level of play. And they have hardly added any prospects at all. 

      Sure, the payroll has gone down some. But the quality of the players has been greatly diminished.

  • SuzyS

    The fourth line from the bottom was supposed to read:
    “Please God, I hope to live long enough to see the cubs do it!”

    • paulcatanese

      Gosh Suzy, you can’t be as old as I am.
      My thought is after I’m gone and they finally win, my wife said she will send me a telegram with the details:)

      • Dorasaga

        Love has no boundaries. The tel. shall reach you. Peace.

        • paulcatanese

          I don’t know, long distance to a place that has no phone lines becuase of the heat may be out of the question. At least thats where she says I will end up.:)

          • Dorasaga

            :-D Paul, I hope you’ll never be the judge.

  • Anthony

    Garza, whether eventually dealt, or stays for the entire transitional period, best extended for a known fixed cost to the club or any trade partner.

    Cespedes—-seeing the Tweets, apparently has an issue with tilt/offspeed, so the terms pitch recognition and guess hitter come to mind. The guy has talent obviously, but the full blown production number/marketing campaign, and cost/benefit-detriment are concerns regarding market value. His price can be way too high

    MIF—–Cubs keep adding veteran middle infielders, and this comment—— 
    According to Bruce Levine (Talkin’ Baseball, ESPN 1000), the Cubs could still add a middle infielder to the mix before Opening Day that could end up changing lineup options for Dale Sveum.

    Well, this could mean a potential trade is in the works versus another retread utility signing, someone of value and fits the mold of young, athletic, defensive-oriented. Everyone seems to want all the Cubans, fine, the one to pry is Theo’s $6.25M bonus SS Iglesias. How to get him from Boston is another story. The Red Sox look like they are going to platoon 2 utility journeymen at SS for 2012 and feel Iglesias is not ready with the bat yet. Can BOS afford to compete this way?

    As it stands for now, Castro and Barney are penciled in, and this potential new MIF addition is an interesting follow.

    Rizzo is a 1B, glad they cleared that up. So what if LaHair lights it up and has 20 HR’s by midseason and Rizzo seems ready? Bet the guys are hoping for that, as it enhances “assets” and provides options.

    Levine and his dream future outfield sounds like all stuff read on all the fan sites. Be careful what you wish for as the game is NOT played on paper, from Top 10 rag lists, or any other stat sheet in circulation.

    Is Dempster a fit in Beantown? Solid veteran anchor who can eat innings, fill that void Cherington is seeking for 2012, and they are also looking to add an outfielder to cover the Crawford rehab period, but they can’t take on additional payroll. Any deal would require return players to offset salaries.

    They just freed up $6M and the buzz is a one year Oswalt signing. If the Cubs sent Marlon who makes that amount, and Dempster who makes $14M, the Cubs would have to take on the same from them, and who fits that mold? Youk? As long as they can pry Iglesias in the deal. Just have a hunch a deal with BOS is in the works in some fashion.

    2012 X-Factor(Volstad)

    If the Cubs like Soler, expect that signing, as I stated, Theo paid $6.25M to snag the CJNT shortstop Iglesias in 2009 after defection.

    Theo quote:

    Epstein adds, “I’m not going to say we aren’t going to make a move that’s unanticipated, or catch people by surprise, or not perfectly fit into that little box that’s generally our philosophy. That’s how we are evaluating moves as we look to build this thing.”

    Very Telling, there are double-negatives in that quote, Ivy League I suppose.

    • Tony_Hall

      “Levine and his dream future outfield sounds like all stuff read on all the fan sites. Be careful what you wish for as the game is NOT played on paper, from Top 10 rag lists, or any other stat sheet in circulation.”

      You make things up on this fan site all the time…Levine gets paid to do it.

      Why do you keep making up trade thoughts about Boston players? 

      Youkilis, Ellsburgy, and Iglesias are not rumored (outside of you) to be even considered to be traded.  

      Dempster, could be traded, but only if he agrees (10 & 5 rights).

      • cubtex

        There is some substance there Tony. The Red Sox need to clear payroll. Rumore is that they HAD to move Scutaro just so they can sign Oswalt. It wouldn’t surprise me if they moved Youkilis or Ellsbury…..not necessarily to the Cubs though.

        • Tony_Hall

          Please provide an actual source then.  

          MLB trade rumors doesn’t seem to know anything about this rumor of Youkilis or Ellsbury going anywhere…it makes no sense to move these guys.  Iglesias could make sense, but he seems to be their future SS, that they just unblocked for when he is ready.

          http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2012/01/al-east-links-red-sox-montero-yankees.html 

          “The Scutaro trade freed up approximately $6MM for the Red Sox to use on an “aggressive bid” for a starting pitcher, says ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (Twitter links).

          Michael Silverman of The Boston Herald confirmed that the trade was made trade strictly for salary relief. 

          Earlier tonight we learned that the Sox have intensified their pursuit of Roy Oswalt.

          The Red Sox are comfortable with a Nick Punto/Mike Aviles platoon replacing Scutaro, but WEEI.com’s Alex Speier hears they will continue to pursue an upgrade at any position, not just shortstop.

          Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal confirmed that Mortensen does have a minor league option remaining, so the Red Sox can send him to Triple-A if they choose (Twitter link)”

      • SuzyS

        Tony, Although I’m not a strong proponent of Anthony’s proposed trades with Boston….it makes sense that the Cubs will explore trades with Boston. What system does Theo know better than any others? Where are his best contacts? If there is a mutually beneficial match with Boston…I’m sure it will happen…
        AFTER SELIG SETTLES THE COMPENSATION ISSUE. (God knows what that will be?)

        Anthony, What are your thoughts on the Cubs reacquiring Hak Lee over a trade for Iglesias with Boston….ss has been a real hole for Boston the last few years…I don’t see the Red Sox parting with Iglesias until they have other ss options in place.

        • Tony_Hall

          I just don’t see Lucchino ever allowing Theo the opportunity to “win” a trade.  

          Likely trade partner yes, but will the top bosses ever allow it…unlikely.

          • Anthony

            Boston is in the AL east, you know, the NYY, a solid Tampa, solid Toronto, and a platoon at SS?

            Castro would be a huge addition to them as they always need to win NOW, is under control $$, and fits their budget, and we can afford to inject Igelsias at the right time, late 2012 and starter in 2013, for a long time at the same position.

            Watch his play, and he is the poster boy to compare many young SS’s who get labeled as probable moves to 3B, because they don’t look like he does.

            Neither does Castro. You don’t have to be an advanced scout to see it for yourself.

          • Tony_Hall

            Just because you can rationalize it doesn’t mean that you aren’t making it all up.  

            They are not necessarily going to platoon, as they have 2 options, one of which will win the job and play 80% of the time.

            Iglesias is very good, that is why Boston will want to keep him.

        • Anthony

          Iglesias is a Theo guy. HJL is not, bout the only logic in response. If I were guessing, the reason Theo giving Iglesias a bonus in 2009 as large as any former 1st/2nd overall draft pick is a huge testament to his ability.

          Iglesias and his defense is what a real SS is, and should get on base just enough to help offensively(think Ozzie/Vizquel type). Starlin is a 3B/2B in waiting, and you can take so many groundballs, go to footwork class, practice off-balance throws, etc., but like many things in baseball, you are born with the tools.

          There is a place in the game for offensive shortstops, and if that output with the bats exceeds the damage caused by errors defensively, a fair trade-off, but chances are he moves as he gets thicker and slower.

          There is not one prospect in the Cubs Organization I would say no on in a trade for Iglesias, as well as on the big club.

          Theo probably lays awake at night envisioning a keystone of Iglesias/Torreyes, a potential leadoff guy and a 9th batter with solid up the middle defense.

          Say he dealt Garza and got Castellanos in the deal, and Rizzo adds some backspin in favor of uppercutting?

          1B Rizzo
          2B Torreyes
          SS Iglesias
          3B Castellanos

          If I am way off base , so be it, I like that infield potential, and is more how I persoanlly would build things.

        • Ripsnorter1

          It is easy to settle the compensation for Theo.

          He ain’t worth anything.

      • Anthony

        Tony, the one thing this crew is good at is misdirection, so I spent a little time reviewing past quotes since the Theo first press conference.

        The one thing they keep saying amidst the “rebuilding” is they will field a competitive team each season during the process.

        The also talk about adding assets. Well, assets are added several ways, Farm development, FA, and trades. This Cubs Org is NOT what he took over in Boston 10 years ago, and most of his moves the past ten years have been signing $$$$ free agents.

        Most of this off-season has been classic Moneyball type moves so far. The reason I feel a trade with Boston is eminent, is because of familiarity, just like the Rizzo trade was with SD, via Boston. Common Sense, isn’t it.

        tex is very spot on with the Red Sox current and future compensation structure.

        part of the Moneyball theory, Billy Beane style is to trade an asset earlier than its true highest value if you can convince the taker there is more ceiling there

        The Cubs need to split an asset into 3-4 assets of potential similar quality, that is why you hear about Garza rumors. He is a good example of the concept, but a certain SS, who embarassed the organization may be a better one?

        • Tony_Hall

          He actually follows up the every year is an opportunity, and says that the long term foundation will come first, before “going for it” in the beginning.

          The Red Sox are just fine on their payroll, and have the ability to maintain their $160-$170M range payroll moving forward.  

          http://www.baseballprospectus.com/compensation/cots/?page_id=154 

          https://spreadsheets.google.com/pub?key=tz8qHiYrIzlFtVnly7gibjw&output=html 

          And of course the Red Sox and the Padres are likely trade partners, due to familiarity.  But Lucchino will not want to give Theo a chance to “outsmart them” on a trade.

          If you enjoy making up trades then keep doing it.  But when making up trades, negotiating with yourself, you will never make up a trade that ever happens…unless you really are Phil Rogers, then you may make up enough of them, that one actually happens.

          • Anthony

            Tony, the Hot Stove is all about having fun, so if you can’t have fun, and be a little creative, then you take all this stuff way beyond normal

            Enjoy it, and have fun

          • cubtex

            He needs to start sipping some de-caf :)

          • Tony_Hall

            I did have 2 cups of coffee and a Pepsi by the time I checked in on here :)

          • cubtex

            haha. I need my morning coffee too my friend!

          • Tony_Hall

            I enjoy the hot stove, but making up trade proposals is the biggest waste of time there is, at anytime of the year, as no one is going to propose a truly fair trade, that both sides will say yes to, except through true negotiations.  

          • Dorasaga

            I actually made up four or five trades for my fantasy team before I even proposed one. Well, didn’t get me very far, I suppose you can be right here.

            Have fun, though.
            :-)

          • Tony_Hall

            D – Perfect example of why trades are so hard.  Even in fantasy, you  will make up different trades before even proposing one, and almost never are you initial trade offers ever accepted, even in fantasy baseball.  Most don’t even end up with a trade happening.

            Trades are very difficult to agree to, and that is why it is such a waste a time to try and make up trade proposals.  Say, I wish they would trade M Byrd and get back in return some prospects, ok, good idea.  But then to pick the team AND the prospects, you will never be right, unless you throw out so many proposals, that you get lucky.  And if you are that lucky, you should play the lottery.Let’s try a trade in ST after we pick our teams :)

          • Dorasaga

            Very true. The other side of the table has an equal mount, if not more, to consider. Skinny  view sucks :-(

          • cubtex

            The Red Sox are NOT Ok financially otherwise they wouldn’t have downgraded to free up money.

            Rob Neyer of SB Nation doesn’t understand the logic behind the Red Sox trading Marco Scutaro.  While the deal saves the club $6MM, it also means a downgrade at the shortstop position.  The club is reportedly comfortable with a Nick Punto/Mike Aviles platoon.
            In a perfect world, Boston would add both Roy Oswalt and Cody Ross if GM Ben Cherington can create a little more financial breathing room, writes Gordon Edes of ESPNBoston.com.  The Red Sox, he notes, have kept dialogue open with Oswalt throughout the winter.
            While it’s tough to draw conclusions from the Scutaro trade until the money saved is reallocated, it’s safe to say that GM Ben Cherington wasn’t as comfortable with his pitching as he claimed, says Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal

          • cubs1967

            they are OK…..it’s called avoiding the luxury tax; which is a smart thing to do.

          • cubtex

            of course that is what it is about. I am not saying they are broke….they don’t want to get killed by the luxury tax.

          • Tony_Hall

            We keep agreeing on things!  

          • Tony_Hall

            Scutaro is no real loss.  He had 2 great years for Toronto, but has had 2 years with Boston, that make him expendable, especially is Colorado is paying it all.

          • cubtex

            I am not saying he is a huge loss but they don’t really have a viable replacement. It was strictly a trade to free up cash.

      • Anthony
        • cubtex

          he definately looks offensively challenged to me!

        • cubtex

          Look at Iglesias’s numbers last year at Pawtucket…..The guy can’t hit.

          357 AB’s .235Avg  9 2B’s 0 3B’s 1 HR

          If you want look up the definition for a punch and judy hitter in the dictionary….you might see his picture.

          • Tony_Hall

            Don’t tell anyone…there’s a blockbuster trade coming, centered around him…

          • paulcatanese

            True, he can’t hit, but looks very smooth with the glove, and on a team that can afford his bat, wow.
            Plus, he can sing as well as his older brother Julio:)

  • Aaron

    I am getting a very bad feeling about the Epstein/Hoyer compensations….i am starting to feel it will be a big name or two off the 40-man for 2 reasons…
    1) to sign Wood they need a spot anyway

    2) if it wasn’t a big name those 2 team were demanding the compensation almost certainly would’ve been decided by now

    ….on the positive side we have 2 supplemental picks plus the 6th overall pick so Team Theo should be able to stock the system. Also, it’s important to note they’ll be selecting at the top of every subsequent round as well.

    If Team Theo can unload Garza, Soriano, Byrd, Soto and Marmol for a few top prospects combined then the Cubs will be well on their way to being a competitive and balanced team in the near future.

    Despite what Cafardo claims, the Cubs should be able to unload both Garza and Soriano to the Tigers (especially if they pick up almost all of Soriano’s deal) and get back several useful pieces now that Martinez is out for the year. Plus, the Cubs could then sign Fielder to a large one year deal and obtain a draft pick next year when he signs elsewhere….or, perhaps trade him at the deadline and receive a pretty good haul.

    • Anthony

      Fielder probably a NO
      Soriano traded soon, probably a NO

      Compensation to BOS/SD, probably not 40 man

      40 man management, probably another waiver wire

      The delay in Compensation more likely two sides who disagree on value, hence the used car guy is an abitrator.

      Blockbuster trade possibility——-Yes

  • paulcatanese

    There are changes with the Cubs, but don’t really know if they are for the better.

    So far, Theo and co. have signed a multitude of players that have had down years or injured. The idea that these players will have bounce back years is taking a real chance. The odds are not good.

    As it stands now, Theo has said it will take time, and the path he is taking gurantees that. I look for spring training to see a multitude of players getting the pink slip and very little forward movement in the Central.

    Cespedes seems to be getting a lot of attention from the Cubs, and I cannot agree with that. He is 26 years old and still (in my opinion) has not shown any real progress to merit that attention. Three days ago when he hit his first home run in the playoffs it was said that he crushed a fastball. I came back with a post that a lot of guys “crush” the fastball, but the curve soon brings them back to earth.
    Todays blurb says he struck out on a 1-2 slider and hit a weak ground ball to short on another slider.

    Now I would think that he will see more of the same in the future. At 26 years old and still have trouble with the curve or slider does not hold a lot of promise. He will see better command of the slider and curve as he trys to progress. Not too many players at that age can turn it around and adjust to a good slider, and he will see better ones than he has.

    All Theo has done so far is gamble, and with bad odds to win on top of it.
    While I appreciate the effort he is making, I would like to see more solid manuvers on his part, and not so many things that call for a miracle turn around.

    • Anthony

      don’t put all your eggs in one basket, especially if that basket has a hole in it

      interesting take on SS defense

      http://bleacherreport.com/articles/984670-why-the-cubs-should-move-starlin-castro-to-the-outfield

      Theo, do a Billy Beane and make a trade

      • Tony_Hall

        You want to listen to an opinion on Bleacher Report, go right ahead…this author, who is trying to fix the Cubs, wrote the article on Dec 15, and didn’t even realize that Lemahieu was traded a week earlier.

        Sorry I don’t buy the thought that Castro is not a SS.  Many great SS’s made a lot of errors in their early years, you know when they were 24,25,26…

        • Anthony

          incorrect, spend some research time, and the article was/is interesting

          • Tony_Hall

            What is incorrect?

            That the author wrote the article on December 15th and Lemahieu was traded on December 7th. What was incorrect?

            The article was interesting, but doesn’t take into account that Castro led the NL in assists, which means he might have gotten to a few more balls than everyone else, which offsets some of the those errors with singles for the other guys.

            Anyone can do an article on Bleacher Report…not exactly the best place to get info.

  • paulcatanese

    The Cubs reducing the meal money for the scouts from $50 to $30 dollars a day. I guess Big Macs are the meal of the day now.

    • Coolpdxcubsfan

      It is a dream job Mr. Ricketts
      Give me the job and I’ll buy my own meals
      AND I’ll mow Theo’s lawn.
      AND I’ll come over Saturday and wash your car.

  • Redlarczykg

    Based on the recent signings, Theo must have a little Christian blood in him, inviting the homeless to spring training.

    • cubtex

      Well played Red :)

  • Anthony

    As Hoyer said, there’s no question where the Cubs need to focus.

    “Defensively, I think that’s a clear area of improvement,” he said. “Run prevention in general. Improving your defense improves your pitching and that’s certainly something the Cubs did not do well last year.”

    “Ian Stewart is a good defensive third baseman,” Hoyer said. “He’s a very good athletic player and a gifted third baseman.
    “With our first two moves(DeJesus), we’ve attempted to make the team a little less right-handed and also attempted to add better defense. We feel very good with both moves that we’ve done that.

    Cubs defense, Theo Epstein said the Cubs are “looking for complete players” and they “know there is a lot of room for improvement defensively as well as offensively.”

    As someone who experienced a large portion of the greatest SS defensively of all time, Omar Vizquel, you can get easily spoiled.

    Starlin Castro is bout the worst defensive SS in MLB, and they know it, and you can go back and look at the careers of all the great defenders at the position, and they were good from Day 1 and still good at the end of their career.

    Sorry folks, Castro is not a very good shortstop.

    You can also make a case for 207 hit, in a gazzillion at bats, .300 is .300, and with all those hits, a very weak corresponding OBP and minimal power.

    You may have an offensive ceiling already reached, and a defensive liability.

    Tony, stop bleeding Cubbie Blue and put your baseball cap on. The Cubs need to split this asset as it could very well be at its highest value, and the team needs MORE than a tweener bat that is defensively challenged at a premium position. At age 44, the great Omar would dance circles around this 22 year old. Sign Omar to bridge the gap and pull a Beane, make a deal when the gettin is good.

    Theo and the boys are quoted above on the topic of defense, but nowhere does it mention Castro as the main culprit. WHY?

    Why would they publicly devalue that trade chip.

    Don’t be shocked if they pull the trigger, and the bad PR may make it easier to squeeze it.

    • Tony_Hall

      You are totally nuts!

      You say Castro is not a very good shortstop.

      He led the NL in assists – http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/A_ss_leagues.shtml

      You say he makes a lot of errors.  27 in 2010 and 29 in 2011.

      Yes he makes errors, but he also gets to a lot more balls than  other SS do, which led him to lead the league in assists.

      Check out Ozzie Smith…one of the best SS of All-time.
      Error totals
      25 – year 1
      20 – year 2
      24 – year 3
      16 – year 4 (strike shortened year 110 games)

      oh yeah, he was 23, 24, 25 years old

      Give the kid some time, use your eyes, he’s a guy you build around.

      • Anthony

        no Tony, he is a guy YOU build around

         

        • Tony_Hall

          Not sure what that’s suppose to mean, but I’ll take it as a compliment.

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            I was wrong, misread.

          • Tony_Hall

            I saw your original, it sure feels like 2 different people at times :)

      • Anthony

        post Omar’s

        • Tony_Hall

          Don’t know how to do your own research.

          Vizquel was not a full time player at the beginning of his career

          Age 22 – GS 131 – 18 errors
          Age 23 – GS 78 – 7 errors
          Age 24 – GS 123 – 13 errors

          Age 29 – he made 20 errors.

          He also hasn’t played full time for 4 years, doubt he could do better at this point.

          Give Castro 4 more years you know a college career to get to be 25 years old and let’s see how he is doing.

          • Brett

            Derek Jeter at age 26, 5th FULL season had 24 errors & a .961 fld%.
            I’m with you man. Castro is a guy you build around & his defense will get better with time.

            Besides….if its all about the glove…just move Barney over there right? :-)

      • cubtex

        Hey look Tony….We agree!

        • Tony_Hall

          You know we agree on most things, but those aren’t as much fun to talk about on here :)

    • cubtex

      Anthony..most kids his age are in the minors learning. The kid has ALL the tools needed to be a very good defensive shortstop. When you have a player with his offensive skills and ability….the Cub would be absolutely nuts to move him.Will he ever be Omar Vizquel?  Probably not….but there are not many shortstops in the history of the game who can hit like him. He will be a 20 plus HR guy with 200 hits. Find me another SS who has those skills? He is a keeper and I hope they lock him up for years like the Rays did with Longoria!!!

  • Aaron

    Here’s a list of desirable free agents still remaining:

    Fielder-Rangers, Nationals at forefront, but Cubs and Brewers…and perhaps many others would get involved if he accepts a 1 year deal and goes back on the market next year

    Kotchman-will likely sign after Fielder signs

    Keppinger-Cubs need a utility guy, especially a guy that can play SS in a pinch. Keppinger can play OF, 3B, SS, and 2B…he’d be a great addition if the Cubs can find some space on the roster. After losing nearly 

    Betemit-like Keppinger, can play multiple positions…unfortunately, hasn’t played SS in nearly 4 years

    Teahen-Personally, I would’ve taken him over Stewart….but he hadn’t yet been released. I think they’re pretty much the same player, with Stewart having the slight edge on power

    Damon-he would be a great addition if the Cubs could just find a way to unload Soriano or Byrd….and even if they could only unload Byrd, then I would find a way to platoon him with Soriano, thus not exposing Soriano to the slider in the dirt from righties.

    Cespedes-(if/when he ever gets residency), but there’s no way I’d go above what Chapman got (around $30 million over 5 years)…especially after seeing him on tape with ACTUAL competition in the winter leagues.

    Oswalt/Garland/Penny/Webb/Young-I lump them all together, because you’d only sign one of them if you traded Garza

    Lidge-only if you trade Marmol

    Aardsma/Cruz/Wuertz/Owings/Bucholz-only as NRI’s, because of injury/performance concerns

    Here’s a list of trade candidates for the Cubs (I am excluding players recently acquired):
    Garza-aside from Castro (whom I do NOT believe should be traded), he has the most trade value of anyone on the team, and would likely bring back at LEAST 2 top prospects

    Byrd-was rumored to be on the Nationals, Rangers, and Tigers radar this offseason. Depending on what the Nationals do the rest of the offseason, they might be the strongest suitor for him, because right now, they’re anticipating Werth being they’re CF, and they’re not exactly enthused with that, and neither is Werth. He could likely be had for one decent mid-level prospect with the other team paying all of his salary, or 2 mid-levels with the Cubs picking up half the tab.

    Soto-Cubs would be selling low, but he’s only getting more expensive and less productive as he ages. Why on earth would Team Theo not look to deal him right now and get whatever they can…which would likely be 1 top prospect coming off a disappointing season, plus 1 mid-level?!?!?

    Marmol-(see above)

    Soriano-Cubs would have to pay 80% or more of his remaining salary…and even then, he’d likely have to be a throw-in with Garza to expand the trade and get better prospects in return overall for Garza

    Wells-If they look for a trade partner with a large park like the Padres, Tigers, Dodgers, Giants, Mariners, Twins, etc., they could find demand. He would likely only bring 1 mid-level and 1 low-level prospect in return.

    Russell-this one wouldn’t make much sense from the Cubs’ standpoint, given the recent trade of Marshall, but they do have several capable replacements waiting in the wings in Maine, Gaub, and Beliveau…Russell could potentially land them a decent return. If they were worried, they could always sign a veteran LH FA like Gonzalez

    Baker-I would prefer that he was compensation for Epstein…but that’s just me. Not only would it solve that issue, but also the 40-man roster issue, and I believe it’s actually fair compensation given precedence. If Bianchi was still on the roster, I’d say trading Baker would be a no-brainer…but perhaps it’s no longer in the cards

    DeWitt-Cubs have signed E. Gonzalez, Amezega, and Tolbert. They already have Barney entrenched there. Is it really smart to spend $1.1 million on DeWitt and $1.375 million on Baker when they have guys like Gonzalez, Amezega, and Tolbert that would provide about the same production for less?!? The Cubs wouldn’t get nothing but a low-level prospect in return, but in my mind, it’d be worth it just to get his crappy bat and below average defense off the team.

    Candidates to get dropped outright from 40-man:
    Gaub (if they don’t trade Russell)
    Cabrera
    Coleman
    Mateo
    Weathers (which would make them look incredibly stupid for trading LeMahieu essentially for him)

    *all of this makes their decision to give both Corpas AND Sonnanstine roster spots even more suspect

    So, given options remaining, salaries, and other considerations, here’s your likely 2012 roster:

    Garza
    Dempster
    Maholm
    T. Wood*
    Volstad*

    Marmol
    Wood
    Russell*
    Corpas
    Sonnanstine
    Samardzija
    Wells*(has to have approval though)

    C-Soto, Castillo*/Clevenger*/Jaramillo
    1B-LaHair*(has to have his approval)
    2B-Barney*, DeWitt*(has to have his approval)
    SS-Castro
    3B-Stewart*(has to have his approval), Baker
    LF-Soriano, Sappelt*/Campana*
    CF-Byrd, Johnson
    RF-DeJesus

    likely lineup would be:
    DeJesus
    Barney
    Castro
    LaHair
    Soriano
    Stewart
    Byrd
    Soto

    Now…tell me that isn’t the weakest lineup you’ve ever seen. I understand what Team Theo is trying to do with a crappy roster…meaning turning it over as much as possible, but they’re doing it the wrong way in my opinion. Signing/trading for guys coming off crappy seasons like Wood, Volstad, Corpas, Sonnanstine, Stewart, and DeJesus is NOT a good start. Granted, the only one they committed to for more than one year is DeJesus….but they also let go of LeMahieu, Flaherty, and M. Gonzalez, and have forced themselves into a corner in that regard, because they now have no middle IF depth whatsoever that are MLB-ready. Their depth now is at the A-ball level.

    I thought a better team might be:
    Garza
    Dempster
    Maholm
    Samardzija
    Wood

    Wood
    Dolis
    Russell
    Beliveau
    Carpenter
    Mateo
    L. Castillo

    C-Castillo, Clevenger
    1B-LaHair, Ridling
    2B-Barney, Keppinger
    SS-Castro
    3B-Stewart, Lake
    LF-Soriano (because we can’t trade him most likely), Damon
    CF-Jackson
    RF-DeJesus

    ….but, what they’re probably already conceding, and just not telling anyone is that they not only don’t expect to compete this year, but they do NOT want to compete, because it’d mean they wouldn’t get a top draft choice in the 2013 draft. They’re also trying to buy time for their prospects like Rizzo, Lake, Szczur, Jackson, Castillo, etc to develop more, and that’s why you’re seeing these crappy veteran free agents being signed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

    • Chadaudio

      Interesting thoughts Aaron. I agree with a lot of what you’re saying… I have long thought that Keppinger is underrated. I also have no doubt Keppinger could still play SS as good Barney.
      I do disagree with putting Lake on the active roster so early though -. He’s just not ready. I also disagree with with you on Damon. He’s a good clubhouse guy, but he isn’t a good player anymore. He isn’t an outfielder anymore… and he doesn’t hit all that well anymore either.

  • daverj

    Castro isn’t going anywhere.  There is no way the Cubs risk Castro becoming a superstar on another team.

  • Anthony

    Gentlemen, after reading the replies, easy to see a little Blue Myopia, and thats OK, because you, nor I make decisions.

    There are reasons why when you read prospect scouting reports on young shortstops, as well as college shortstops that most say this wonderful term, “won’t stick at SS”

    There is a reason, or multiple ones that the evaluators use as that gauge. Statistically, Jeter is/was a medicore SS defensively, and ironically, Theo used him in comparison when discussing Castro.

    Castro is a below-average defensive SS with a plsu bat, for that position, and his bat would be below-average for any corner position, on the dirt, or on the grass.

    Castro is a .300 hitter so far with below-average power, and a mediocre on-base percentage. Castro and 200 hits is more about at bats then it is about the total, it is still .300, not .340, not .350, but .300.

    I go by what I have read, what Theo and the boys have said, what Theo signed in the past as potential SS players, and the preach for defense. Forget how many assists, when you divide it against gaffes, the rotten fielding percentage and negative runs allowed stick out like a sore thumb.

    Don’t post # of errors, especially on the great Vizquel, post the real stat like fielding and runs saved. I suppose I am debating against young kids here, but thanks to internet video, spend some time and watch some vintage Omar defense, and see what a SS really is.

    Garza and Castro are the top 2 trading chips the Cubs possess, and converting them to 8 quality players is in line with Theo and Co.

    What I sense is civic pride, frustration in losing so often, and seeking a baseball savior clouding baseball judgement. If it is that bad that you need to hang your hat on a 21/22 year old mediocre defensive SS with OK offensive numbers, then I feel bad for you.

    Boston needs an immediate fix at SS, and that club can outhit those errors, the Cubs can’t. Atlanta needs an immediate fix at SS, and they can also outhit the errors, the Cubs can’t.

    I posted earlier in the thread a unique video with Iglesias and Castro taking IF practice together. If you can’t see the difference, then sorry, it is very obvious.

    Trade Castro and Trade Garza, see what 2012 brings to the forefront in the minors, and regroup.

    Just go back and read everything these suits have been saying, and follow that with what they have done so far, and look for a pattern.

    If I had to use one word for Castro at SS, the word clumbsy comes to mind using the eye test. His results back that up so far, and there is nothing there to think it gets better.

    • Tony_Hall

      You are Phil Rogers…no one else could come up with this stuff.

    • Brett

      So by what you are saying here… Castro is a mediorce ss that is clumbsy & shows no signs of improving. If you believe that, how do you think the Cubs would get anything in return? You say he isn’t very good & likely never will be, but you also think they would take in a haul by trading him. By your rationale, this kid stinks so why would any other organization give up any value for him? If you honestly believe it is an obvious fact he isn’t going to amount to much, you shouldn’t expect much in return. Give us a break.

      You want to give away a real building block for unproven players. You want to give away a 21 yr old kid who many believe is the next “great” ss…people who don’t have a thing to do with the Cubs organization. He was an All Star at age 21. He shows flashes of greatness at an age where most are in A ball.

  • Anthony

    Looks like the Centipede loads up each pitch for those fastballs, and can’t distinguish the difference when the offspeed comes.

    Pure guess hitter, at age 26, or 36 depending on fake papers, and then the pimp and his agent want millions of dollars for an old prospect that may have had the abilty under NO RULES to juice it up the past several years to become artificial, the Cuban Drago, ready to kick Rocky’s hide and claim superiority.

    How funny

    Who is this Phil Rogers guy?

    Kindly stop referring him when addressing me.

    All the answers are easy. Just go back and follow players, especially the touted ones, see the results, and make assessments.

    More MLB quality players never had the opportunity to prove that because ots a numbers game, so many spots, very little opportunity, much luck needed.

    More players get to the Show by timing and luck than talent alone.

     

    • Tony_Hall

      Phil – You are so clueless.

  • Jason Douglas

    I wouldn’t sweat the scout pay going from $50 to $30.  If you are staying at a Residence Inn or any hotel with a fridge, you can load up on an awful lot of food and beer on $30/day.  No need to go out to dinner every single night.  I am guessing expensing a dinner with a potential recruit is separate as well.

    I had a field gig for a large insurance company right out of college…had a $30/day per diem…this was back in 1999ish.  

    Do you know how much Subway and Taco Bell you have to eat to max out your $30 every night?  (I gained weight)

    • paulcatanese

      Sorry Jason, I dis-agree. Are you saying that Major League scouts are to be put on a budget? It they are going to pinch the pennys why didn’t they start with their own salarys?

      Pride and dignity make good scouts and they should be treated as anyone else in the orginization, and by doing what they are diminishes the feeling of belonging to a class franchise.

      Whats next, no buffet in the clubhouse?Maybe if the players brown bag it every day Theo could afford to be equal in his distribution of funds.

      This cheapness is starting to wear on me, next would be one bat for every six players, or metal bats for batting practice to cut down on broken ones. How about making the fans give the baseballs back, that should save money.

      Can’t buy this one.

      • Tony_Hall

        Why can’t you buy this one, did your wife cut your per diem as well :)

        I have traveled for work a lot, and when you figure breakfast is at the hotel (free), and for these guys dinner is at the ballpark, that leaves them a lot of money for lunch, and it wouldn’t have to be fast food, unless that was your choice.  Even at $15 per meal, that’s more than enough. Plus, that was what was reported, we don’t know what else they did.  Theo probably re-organized the structure of how they get compensated, and this is the part someone talked about…they could have all got raises, better health insurance, etc

        But, if I were to travel again, I would love the $50 a day :)

        • paulcatanese

          Tony, you are correct, I don’t know what else or if they were compensated in another manner.

          And again true, eating at the ballpark (except if it’s a Major League park) would not cost much.

          Almost seventy percent of my meals were tax deductable, and included clients so I cannot compare that to an allowance for meals.

          And it’s true again, my wife did cut my per diem after looking at my waist.

          I guess you got me Tony:)

  • Jeff in Az

    I’m sorry, but trading Castro makes absolutely no sense.

  • paulcatanese

    Unless Cespedes has hit that 1-2 pitch(hasn’t been posted) he is further proving that he cannot hit the soft stuff, or the curve,or the slider, whats left? Where is he going to play that the opposing team will throw him nothing but fastballs?

  • Ripken Boy

    I love that the Cubs are going with a youth movement, which is the best thing for log term success. But this 2012 team will be really bad. Hopefully a few position players and a pitcher or two will do well that will help build a foundation for the future.

    FYI……….. if this was Jim Hendry doing this vs. the Theo Trio would everyone have this same kind of excitment?