Cubs Continue Tweaking the Roster … and Other News and Notes

There are only 11 days before pitchers and catchers officially report to Fitch Park and the Cubs’ new regime is not finished tweaking the roster.

After avoiding arbitration in January by agreeing to a one-year, $1.1 million contract for 2012, the Cubs designated Blake DeWitt for assignment Monday to make room on the 40-man roster for Adrian Cardenas. The offensive oriented utility man was a sandwich pick of the Phillies in 2006 and one of the top prospects in Oakland’s organization after Billy Beane acquired him in the Joe Blanton deal in 2008. Cardenas has two minor league options left and is expected to compete for a spot on the Cubs’ 25-man roster this spring.

The Cubs have not announced the signing of 19-year old lefty Gerardo Concepcion. Concepcion and the Cubs reportedly came to terms on a contract last week that could end up being worth as much as $8 million. If the reports are accurate and Concepcion agreed to a Major League deal, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will have to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Concepcion.

Here is the update …

Adrian Cardenas
Baseball America ranked the newest Chicago Cub the 12th best prospect in the A’s system prior to the Gio Gonzalez trade. Cardenas can hit to all fields but lacks the power to play third at the big league level … which suits his defensive ability.

Adrian Cardenas has not developed the power that most thought he would when he was named Baseball America’s High School Player of the Year in 2006. Without the power to play third, Cardenas projects as a middle infielder but he cannot field either position enough for him to be an everyday big leaguer.

Cardenas has a fluid, effortless swing and can spray the ball to all fields. According to Baseball America, he has “an innate understanding of how pitchers are trying to attack him” and he makes consistent contact but “doesn’t drive the ball very often.”

Defensively, Cardenas lacks true middle infield actions with fringy speed, quickness and range. He did show improvement in the field last year but played more left field than at second base or shortstop. Cardenas has an average arm and is learning out to play the outfield … if he can get to the ball he can catch it.

Adrian Cardenas is 6-foot-0, 205 pounds and the lefty hitter, righty thrower projects more as a line-hitting utility man in the majors due to a lack of position and power.

Adrian Cardenas’ Page on Baseball-Reference

Yoenis Cespedes
The agent for Yoenis Cespedes, Adam Katz, joined Holden Kushner and Jim Duquette Sunday morning during Baseball Today (MLB Network Radio/XM Radio) to discuss the latest with his client.

Adam Katz indicated at the top of the interview that Yoenis Cespedes (pronounced Yo-Ennis Sess-Puh-dess) is still blocked from signing with a team. Cespedes has not acquired an OFAC (U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control) unblocking license and Cespedes must obtain that license in order to be able to execute a contract. Katz said that Cespedes can come to terms with a team but cannot sign or play until the license is acquired.

Katz is optimistic they can get Cespedes under contract in order to get him into camp on time.

Cespedes had a rough time statistically in his brief playing time in the Dominican Republic. Katz admitted that the numbers indicated he struggled but he was told that the plate appearances were better than the results considering Cespedes was seeing game action for the first time since March (10 months).

There have been five or six teams consistently showing interest in Cespedes. Some teams have come and gone but according to Adam Katz, at no point this winter has less than five to six teams been looking at Cespedes at the same time. Katz would not comment on which teams have shown interest or might be the most interested. Katz did say that there is a strong market for him and “the kid is going to do extremely well.”

Katz described Cespedes as a hard-worker with an exceptional skill set that has the right character to be very successful in the game.

Katz said his job is to get the best package [contract] he can for Cespedes. Once the teams have made their offers, he will sit down with Cespedes and go over the options. It will be up to Cespedes to determine which team he thinks fits best with him. Katz admitted it would be reasonable to think Miami might have an edge because of the Cuban community but he’s not sure what Cespedes is thinking at this point.

Most of the teams that have scouted Cespedes thinks he is a first rate centerfielder but some would prefer him in a corner outfield spot. Katz was asked about comps for Cespedes. Katz said he’s heard comparisons made to Sammy Sosa (by Dan Duquette), Vladimir Guerrero, Bo Jackson and Jimmy Wynn.

According to a report from Bruce Levine, the next step for Cespedes is coming to the United States to meet face-to-face with the interested teams. The plan is to have Cespedes in camp by the third week of February. Cespedes has not obtained a travel visa in order to come to the States.

According to Bruce Levine’s sources, a contract for Yoenis Cespedes could end up as high as six years, $60 million.

News and Notes
FanGraphs took a look at Overspending on the Cuban Market and how the cap on international spending that begins in July might have an impact on the contracts Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler end up signing.

Blake DeWitt’s days in a Cubs’ uniform may not be over. If DeWitt clears waivers he could end up being outrighted to Iowa and receiving a non-roster invite to big league camp this spring.

Carrie Muskat confirmed the report from Bruce Levine that Esmailin Caridad received a non-roster invite to Spring Training.

Chris Jaffe of the Hardball Times found out 10 things he didn’t know about one-hitters … and the list includes several former Cubs.

WGN Radio Contest

WGNSongContest.jpg

WGN Radio has asked the CCO to help promote their latest contest … write the official WGN Radio Cubs Song for the 2012 season. For those baseball fans that are also musicians this could end up being your bring break.

All entries must be submitted by February 29, 2012.

Click here for more information and the official rules from WGN Radio.

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

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"Our lives improve only when we take chances and the first and most difficult risk we can take is to be honest with ourselves." - W Anderson.
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  • Dorasaga

    Neil, I read from one of those major media (probably Baltimore Sun) that MLB may obtain the OFAC easier than before. This fed. administration simplified the process by looking at the player’s residency (out of Cuba, now in DOM), instead of the officials review all forms and background check, which used to take months–the process used to start ONLY AFTER the player obtained new residency out of Cuba. You probably want to check into the latest regulation. I can imagine the OFAC is the least to concern for ML ballclubs. It’s the asking price from this agent of Cespedes that troubles them.

    • Anthony

      So much for Homeland Security

      • Dorasaga

        For the short term, the HomelandS. did its job, … I guess we shouldn’t talk politics on CCO, but for the long-term, a bigger bureau always sucks. I don’t know if the same may be translated to baseball clubs. Well, the Cubs sucked long-term while having the smallest front-office since they let Joe McCarthy leave with dismay in 1930. That’s 80 years of small body, a mediocracy that governed the Cubs.

  • Anthony
    • Jeff in AZ

      I like his build, swing, and speed over cespedes. I’m starting to get on board with those who think we should let Miami have cespedes and make sure we outbid everyone for soler. Only way I’m happy with a cespedes signing is if we get him for less than 30 million and we sign soler with him.

      • daverj

        I feel the same way about the Soler/Cespedes situation though I have some concern that the bidding for Soler is going to get a bit crazy.  From what I have read, it seems more teams are interested in Soler than Cespedes because they think Soler has more upside and will be significantly cheaper.  If many teams are interested in Soler, it will increase his price.    It wouldn’t surprise me if Soler ended up with a deal in the $20-$25 million range.  That’s an awful for a guy that is probably 3 years away from the majors.

        A question for all of those that advocate signing Soler … how high would you be willing to go and for how many years? I think I’d do $20 million for 6 years, but I can’t see going higher than $20 million.

        • Anthony

          750k

          • daverj

            He only would get 750k in a regulated market like the regular mlb draft.

          • Anthony

            750K Max, regardless of the mechanism. Please. He is not the next Babe Ruth, he is a good young player, as most are when they get to Pro baseball

            This fascination is crazy

          • daverj

            “Regardless of the mechanism” … you really think that Soler won’t sign with a team for more than 750K?  He would be a first round pick if he were in the normal draft.  Since he’s a free agent, he’ll command millions … many of them.

          • Anthony

            ok you win, bwahahahahahaha

        • Aaron

          Ditto

      • Anthony

        Did you observe a 60 yard dash between the two of them?

        Think not. So you are going by journalists reports?

        Why?

        These guys never entered the batters box, they are in the business of selling magazines, most are Nerds

    • paulcatanese

      Viewed the tapes, and there really was not much to see. I assume the one swing he had was a  home run, couldnt tell.
      I would expect that he was vusually observed and they see something in him.

      I would also say that the batting averages for the whole league seem a bit high and would indicate pitching is not up to standard for the hitting thats going on.

      I agree with some others that while these guys may be great players, they are still unproven and think the money they are seeming to command is way out of consideration and would hope that the Cubs do not go out on a limb with this.

      It is not my decision and only an opinion, but I still would like to see players from the Cubs minor system get the shot over the re-tread players they are bringing in, very disapointing to me.

      • Anthony

        The influx of MIF’s is confusing, and it shouldn’t have anything to do with Boston Comp, i.e a platoon SS, and Omar clone waiting in the wings, and Pedroia.

        But, several challengers have been signed to compete against Barney, it appears, so who knows what they are thinking.

        Starting to think Vitters or Lake will be the Comp, or both, one shipped to SD for hoya hoya Hoyer?

        I posted a couple days ago about kids signing out of HS versus college first. Vitters physically looks the same now as he did as an 18 year old. He should be bigger and stronger and has the frame for it.

        He has been afforded the opportunity since Summer of 2007 to live and breath being a Pro athlete 24/7/365 versus going to college classes and having to work for pocket change.

        SHOULDN’T HE BE MUCH BETTER THAN HE IS?

        Here is a typical D1 college year:

        JAN-go to class, hit the cages, do some cage/gym, then study, do homework, back to class

        FEB thru MAY-go to class, start formal practices, then study, do homework, back to class, start the season, travel on road 4 days for games, no practice, go to class, take exams.

        JUNE-either post-season NCAA games, minimal practice, season over, pack bags, go to summer wood bat leagues.

        JULY thru Mid-August-play collegiate wood bat games daily, minimal practice, optional gym/lifting

        Late August thru OCT-go to class, Fall practice, gym/lift, study, take exams, do homeowrk, go to class.

        NOV/DEC-go to class, work out independently gym/lift/cages/bullpen, take exams, study, do homework, go to class.

        Pro Athlete: Hit everyday, lift everyday, practice, practice, take a nice vacation, work on hitting/pitching, do speed training, lift weights, hit, etc.etc

        It will be interesting to follow our 2011 college drafted players, as they will enter ST not having the academic requirements of the past, weened off the metal bats since last Summer, and a full offseason able to train like Pro Athletes instead of Student-athletes.

  • Anthony

    Cardenas- Theo again grabs a former 1st rounder that hasn’t yet performed up to par, typical Epstein pickup, and a Moneyball master reject? by Brad Pitt, aka Beane.

    High BA, OBP, below-average defense, minimally acceptable at 2B, but still young.

    Cirque de Soler’-just because the IFA rules are changing due to the new CBA doesn’t mean you have to puke all over yourself and spend, just because you are still allowed to?

    What if the kid ends up 230 pounds like some have said? Then you have a LF/1B power guy, and you won’t know for a few years whether the pull happy turns into full-field power.

    Any huge financial investment basically forces the club to play this kid whether he fails or not. In an draft situation, it would probably be a 750K bonus and a MILB contract, and not 15-20 million dollars.

    • paulcatanese

      Not bringing religion into this, but Amen to you’re post.

      • Anthony

        paul, from a financial standpoint, I usually compare the best I can get at the most cost vs. the best I can get from the least cost, and the difference weighed against the expenditure.

        Say, C’deSoler’ costs an average of $5M/year, and solid player Joe Anyone is on a MLB minimum(500K).

        Will I get 10 times greater production? Probably not, and may get a little more overall production for an additional $4.5M?

  • John_CC

    I have a feeling that Epstein is driving up the price on Cespedes with the Marlins already stating in the media that they will pursue this guy to a the point of “stupidity”.  It would take one possible suitor out of the Soler sweeps.  

    • Anthony

      stop this driving up the price craaaap, it doesn’t make sense.

      Explain to all of us the benefit of pretending you are interested in a player, because Miami and their owner don’t care. Each Clubs finances are their own business.

      So Theo fakes interest so Miami spends more money? What benefit is that to the Cubs organization?

      Crazy

      • John_CC

        Do you honestly believe that the decisions made by owners, GMs, team prez, are not influenced by the pressures around them? This is simple economics.

        The Marlins don’t care?  They want Cespedes, bad. Real bad. All the know-it-all 4-letter Insiders are saying that the Cubs have the best angle to get him, that they want him bad too, that they have a lot of money to spend since they’ve shed so much payroll, that the fans are chomping at the bit for big splashy move, that Epstein and Hoyer want to make a splash, they love the kids potential…

        Right, none of that matters to Marlins. Free Agent signings happen in a vacuum. 

        Crazy.

        • Anthony

          you never answered the Question

          • John_CC

            Actually Anthony, I stated my reasoning in the original post, the one you first responded to.  The last sentence says “it would take one more possible suitor out of the Soler sweeps.”

            Maybe forcing other teams’ hands and making them pay more than they wanted to for players does not make any difference in the long run. But it does make a difference.

            Anyone who has ever played poker knows this.

      • gary3411

         If the Marlins spend say 60mil on Cespedas instead of 40mil because the Cubs drove up the price, then that is 20 million less dollars the Marlins can spend on other players, thus in theory making them a worse team in the future. The Marlins are in the National League, the same league as the Cubs. If the Marlins have less money to spend in the future, it hurts them baseball wise and in turn helps the Cubs chances of making the world series.

        Any time another team gets worse, the Cubs get better relative to that team. That is why you drive up prices on guys you may not be targeting. This is not directly beneficial to our 25-man roster, but it is the little things like this that make smart GMs ahead of the curve on GMs not doing these little things.

  • cubtex

    Lot of tweets going around that Vitters is going to RSox as compensation for Boy Blunder.

    • cubs1967

      that would extreme over the top payment; also another reason for kenny crane to be launched………he created this mess with ricketts by not getting it done FIRST before agreeing to hire him.
      shame!

    • Aaron

      Wow…how dumb is this looking now? Gone are ALL decent 3B options if he goes: Gonzalez, LeMahieu, Flaherty, and Vitters.

      Guys like Baez, Shoulders, etc are 4 yrs or more away.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Aaron, let’s wait and see what happens before making too much out of the twitter noise.

      • Anthony

        Guys like Baez and Shoulders may never make it.

        • John_CC

          Vitters may never make it.

          • Aaron

            Vitters is too good not to make it. His defense is the only thing that is keeping him from the big leagues right now. But make no mistake about it, Vitters’ bat is top notch. He’s a mix of Vlad Guerrero and Randall Simon in that he can get to pitches you otherwise might think were out of his range. His bat speed is really what sets him apart. 

            I am not inferring that he will be like Vlad, but at the very worst, he could be a Randall Simon that becomes a solid bench bat. 

          • Anthony

            Vitters had 5 years of luxury, and he is stalled

      • gary3411

         NONE of them are going to be starting third basemen on a good MLB team anyway, so why does it really matter? Vitters still has a shot, but chances are below 20% I would say. We are going to have to acquire one, maybe they are eyeing David Wright.

         Also, there’s the chance Ian Stewart turns his career around also. At this point, I’d take him over Vitters in a heartbeat. Again, wouldn’t bet on it, but surely possible.

        Also, Castro might be moved there if he stuggles again this year at short (not that I think he should, but if he struggles for another year or 2 it might not be the worst thing).

        Our options for 2013 and beyond are plentiful, however it would suck to lose Vitters just out of principle anyway because that is far too much for Epstein. If it happens though, so be it he’ll probably be a marginal LFer if he makes it anyway.

        • Ripsnorter1

          David Wright does not fit the Theo plan of losing big on the cheap.

          • gary3411

             Oh well good, because that’s not his plan.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Boy Blunder is so very correct. 

  • cubs1967

    kevin goldstein on chicago hot stove tonite; states Gerardo Conception did not have an offer over 3M from any other team……..WOW; we wasted 4M plus for an 18 yr old who throws 86-90 from Cuba??

    nice tommyboy and team theo………….at least the new 200 dollar bleacher tix are going to a good use/NOT!

    • daverj

      How does Goldstein know what the second highest offer was?

      • cubs1967

        no clue……..but that’s what he said.
        does it matter…why give an 18 yr old 7M?….that throws 86-90 in cuba………is cuba even low A ball??

        • Calicub

          I DONT HAVE ALL THE FACTS BUT I CAN STILL MAKE A BIG FUSS OUT OFF NOTHING! LISTEN TO ME LISTEN TO ME!

          This world is too chaotic to deal in uncertainties, whether it be the second place bid for conception, or your incessant claims that the cubs will lose 100. seriously i wonder if you even understand what you are writing sometimes cubs1967 or do you just like the attention your idiotic posts create?

    • Anthony

      If what you say is true, then Theo has a pre-disposed notion that foreign born kids who play baseball 24/7/365 are far better than US kids who go to class in college.

      The Chicago Cubans

      He will trade for Iglesias at some point, bet on it.

      • paulcatanese

        Are you talking about Julio Iglesias? He’s too old to sing anymore let alone play ball :)

        • Anthony

          yes paul, he will be singing Castro’s Theme Song, “to all the girls I ****ed before”

      • RynoTiger

        I like the Chicago Cubans.  I’ve always felt that the team was too U.S. born.  Good to see something different.

  • Anthony

    So 5 hours ago I mentioned Vitters and Lake?

    Sources within…………………..lol

    • Aaron

      what are you referring to? Are you saying you know people within the organization saying that’s the compensation, or no?

      • Tony_Hall

        He doesn’t mean anything, you know by now, all he does is throw out numerous little posts, that have no meaning, and are designed to just confuse the readers  that come to this site for real information.

  • paulcatanese

    See where Rizzo will be wearing number 44 this year, lets hope he can bring as much to the table that Cavarreta did ( actualy that number should have been retired).

    • Anthony

      correcting an uppercut may be more important than a jersey number?

  • Tony_Hall

    A fun look at the NL Central, position by position.

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/20589/nl-central-showdown-position-rankings 

    The only position, we are #1 is SS with Starlin Castro, you know the guy we will be building our team around for the next decade as our SS.

    • John_CC

      Tony, Castro only got 200 hits because he had so many plate appearances. And his BA is a result of PA as well (forget that batting average is an AVERAGE). I don’t think they should try to build a team around a 20 year old that is just a .300 hitter with 10 HR power. Plus, these morons at ESPN will say anything!

      • Josh Man

        “just a .300 hitter”

        John, you are aware that being a .300 hitter is extremely rare, right? And is actually harder to do the more ABs you have?

        • gary3411

           he was being sarcastic

        • John_CC

           I am aware of that Josh.  ; )

      • Tony_Hall

        I say we trade him away, and spend lots of prospects on a weak hitting glove that can sing the 7th inning stretch every game….