Cespedes Update, New Numbers, Fitch Park … and Other Cubs News and Notes

10 days until pitchers and catchers officially report to Fitch ParkThe Cubs loaded the equipment truck Tuesday that is bound for Mesa. Several players are already at Fitch Park preparing for the start of Spring Training and the new arrivals include Matt Garza, David DeJesus, Dave Sappelt, Jeff Samardzija, Josh Vitters and Darwin Barney.

The Yoenis Cespedes tour began Tuesday. Cespedes acquired a visitor’s visa and arrived in Miami Tuesday afternoon. Cespedes reportedly met with his agent, Adam Katz, Tuesday night to go over the next step of the process.

Yoenis Cespedes is expected to meet with the Marlins and tour their new park Wednesday. According to Jayson Stark, the Marlins have limits on the contract they are prepared to offer Cespedes. Miami is planning something spectacular but they are not sure it will be enough to sign him. David Samson told Jayson Stark the club could make an offer to Cespedes by the end of the day [Wednesday]. Samson admitted the Marlins want him but do not need him and said signing Cespedes could “put the cherry on top of a feverish off-season.”

Cespedes has not received an OFAC unblocking license, which is required for him to sign a contract.

According to a report from Ken Rosenthal, other teams may visit Cespedes while he is in Miami. There have not been any reports, yet, that the Cubs may be one of the teams. Cespedes is expected to return to the Dominican Republic in a few days.

The Cubs updated their official roster Tuesday and announced several number changes. Among the changes … Matt Garza switched from 17 to 22, Jason Jaramillo was issued no. 38, Joe Mather received no. 16, Tony Campana turned in Piniella’s old number in favor of good ole no. 1 and Jeff Baker will wear no. 3 instead of his familiar no. 28, which went to Paul Maholm.

Here’s the update …

Chattin’ with Bruce Levine
Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his weekly chat on ESPNChicago.com. Here are the highlights:

  • The number one goal of the new regime is to have a better defensive team. If Adrian Cardenas can field second base he might be able to push Darwin Barney for a job. Barney might be better off as a back-up at second and short if Cardenas can win the second base job.
  • This season is all about rebuilding even though Ricketts has said numerous times he expects the team to compete.
  • John Gaub could end up more than a one-inning reliever and Scott Maine is more of a lefty specialist.
  • If everyone competing for a spot in the rotation pitches well, the Cubs could trade Randy Wells. According to Levine, he is a viable pitcher and could still be someone’s good fourth or fifth starter.
  • The Marlins will be the Cubs number one competition for Yoenis Cespedes … but don’t count out the White Sox in the Cespedes derby.
  • Levine has not heard any updates on the status of Jorge Soler.
  • The Cubs have not acknowledged signing Gerardo Concepcion yet … which means, according to Levine, that he has not taken a physical. The Cubs have been coy about the signing of Cuban players … and have not announced the two signings from six weeks back. (Note: Levine is referring to the signings of 18-year old outfielder Yasiel Balaguert and 20-year old right handed pitcher Carlos Martinez. The signings were announced by Baseball America on December 30.)
  • As for the compensation for Theo Epstein, Levine does not think a top prospect will be sent to Boston for Epstein but economic compensation will accompany the player that is sent.
  • Levine thinks a team will sign Blake DeWitt to a minor league deal.

Boys of Spring
Tim Sheridan is hard at work at Fitch Park and is already providing his excellent updates. I look forward to catching up with Tim again in a couple of weeks when the Cactus League games begin.

For those unfamiliar with ‘Boys of Spring‘, click here and tell Tim the CCO sent you.

Uniform Numbers
With all of the new players and coaches, here is a rundown of the numbers the new players, non-roster invitees and the coaches will be wearing at the beginning of Spring Training. For a full 40-man roster that includes player’s contracts and minor league options, click here.

40-Man Roster

  • Jeff Beliveau – 68
  • Alberto Cabrera – 76
  • Lendy Castillo - 52
  • Matt Garza – 22
  • John Gaub – 54
  • Paul Maholm – 28
  • Andy Sonnanstine – 21
  • Chris Volstad – 32
  • Casey Weathers – 56
  • Travis Wood – 30
  • Welington Castillo – 53
  • Steve Clevenger – 51
  • Jeff Baker – 3
  • Junior Lake – 73
  • Anthony Rizzo – 44
  • Ian Stewart – 2
  • Josh Vitters - 61
  • Tony Campana – 1
  • David DeJesus – 9
  • Dave Sappelt – 17
  • Matt Szczur – 72

Adrian Cardenas has not been issued a uniform number yet.

Non-Roster Invitees

  • Esmailin Caridad – 50
  • Marco Carrillo – 74
  • Manny Corpas – 60
  • Jay Jackson – 65
  • Rodrigo Lopez – 19
  • Trey McNutt - 71
  • Trever Miller – 43
  • Blake Parker – 67
  • Dae-Eun Rhee – 70
  • Chris Rusin – 88
  • Michael Brenly – 78
  • Jason Jaramillo – 38
  • Blake Lalli – 47
  • Alfredo Amezaga – 48
  • Edgar Gonzalez – 55
  • Jonathan Mota – 75
  • Bobby Scales – 41
  • Matt Tolbert – 20
  • James Adduci – 63
  • Jae-Hoon Ha – 79
  • Brett Jackson – 59
  • Joe Mather – 16

Coaching Staff

  • Dale Sveum – 33
  • Rudy Jaramillo – 7
  • Chris Bosio – 25
  • Dave McKay – 39
  • Pat Listach – 4
  • Jamie Quirk – 8
  • Lester Strode – 35
  • Mike Borzello – 58
  • Franklin Fort – 64

News and Notes

Chasing the Dream recently ran a report on the Cubs’ 18th round pick from last June’s draft, James Pugliese. For those that are not that familiar with the right-hander, the interview is well worth the time.

Babes Love Baseball previewed the Cubs season in Haiku.

Matt Garza talked with Comcast SportsNet on his way from California to Mesa about his future with the Cubs and the recent theft of his ALCS Championship ring.

Video

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

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." - John F. Kennedy

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  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Test

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    I am checking in as to why but Disquis was down on this article since it posted. It seems to be working now. Please let me know if anyone has any issues.

    Thanks and sorry for the issues … neil@chicagocubsonline.com

    • Dorasaga

      I guess you got my email. Thanks for the fine work on details.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Test mobile

  • John_CC

    Was wondering where everyone went…

  • paulcatanese

    No problems Neil.

    On the subject of Cespedes, as he is in Florida today, I would think they would be the front runners with him. The stadium alone has much more to offer with the facilitys they have, plus the community suits him well.

    Unless the almighty dollar is first and foremost in his mind, I see him ending up there.

    The opportunity for playing sooner rather than later may be with the Cubs, but if I were to put myself in his place, Florida would be it, he would be right at home.

    • Anthony

      Bryan LaHair hit 38 HR’s in AAA against arguably better pitching than the Cuban league, and another 15 against INTL competition, and will play for the league minimum around 500K in 2012.

      And the Centipede is worth 20 times that?

      Okay 
       

      • gary3411

        It’s not that simple. Is Lance Berkman worth 24 times Freddie Freeman? No, there are more dynamics.

        • Anthony

          Alfredo Despaigne is the real star of Cuban baseball, and anyone know why the Centipede didn’t make the 2008 Cuban Olympic Team?

        • Anthony

          gary, Berkman has proven MLB success for many years versus Freddie basically a rookie plus 1, so it is that easy

          gary, Centipede has done nothing in MLB

          • gary3411

            RIGHT NOW Berkman is not 24 times better than Freddie Freeman. Will he in 2012 hit 24 times as many HR’s and have 24 times more RBI than Berkman. NO, so production/salary is not equal to value. Was that not your argument that Centipede isn’t worth 20 times what LaHair is worth?

            You pay for projected performance, not past performance (at least a good GM should). I would guess majority of great baseball minds project Cespedas to produce more over the next 5-6 years than Bryan LaHair at the major league level. That is why he will be paid more. It does not mean he has to be 20 times better then LaHair to be worth that money.

          • paulcatanese

            On an even scale, I dont think Cespedes will be better than LaHair, who at a higher level has produced with power.

            Point being, Cespedes still has to prove himself, just think as he progresses he will find it more difficult to do.

          • OttawaBob

            Cespedes is 26, great speed, a cannon for an arm. projects to hit..265/.270 with 30 hr power. LaHair is 29,  no speed with poor defensive skills especially in the outfield. probably 30-35 hr power. and Neither has proven a thing at the major league level. To me its not a case of either / or, I want them both.

          • Dorasaga

            Paul, I think the scale of measuring who amongst the two will serve the team better is an open debate. Cespedes proved himself on a single-A level, while LaHair on the AAA. Nobody doubts the Cuban’s raw talent. It’s a question of what the Cubs want for this year, and in the near future.

            The Cubs should realistically expect the Cuban to be at least two years away to serve as a left fielder, right field (if his defensive skills hold up there), or a  fourth outfielder on all spots around Wrigley Field.

            LaHair needs to perform THIS SEASON on the Major League level to make himself worthy. But if he makes it, we need to look no further than Michael Morse of the Nats. He’s another “old” prospect (year 30 this season), who earned himself a good contract and a regular worry for the manager to plug him in.

      • gary3411

        I don’t think they should sign Cespedas, but I do believe he will have a better major league career than Bryan LaHair, and he plays more premium positions. My point was that the value of a player is not equivalent to a production/salary ratio, as you are suggesting by saying if Cespedas makes 20 times more money than LaHair he for some reason should be 20 times better. Not how it works, not how it will ever work.

      • gary3411

         **equal to a production/salary ratio**

      • paulcatanese

        Any unproven (at a decent level) player is not worth the money that they are predicting for Cespedes.

        • gary3411

          Of course not, they should not sign Cespedas for 6-60, too risky.

  • EqDoc

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/breaking/sfl-miami-marlins-yoenis-cespedes-20120207,0,3372276.story

    Please do not sign this guy.  He hasn’t played a single MLB game and he already has the look of someone with a serious attitute problem.  I have a feeling he is a prima donna.  To many people telling him how great he is… 

    • paulcatanese

      He is a clone of Sosa, and I don’t mean his bat, and one of them was enough.

      • EqDoc

        Right on the nose!

    • BosephHeyden

       The man already decided what team he wants to go to.  That’s fine.  $60 million was way to much for a guy who can’t hit breaking pitches.

    • OttawaBob

      Kevin Goldstein thinks he’s a pretty good player. Goldstein’s no dummy.  Dizzy Dean once said …It ain’t braggin’  if you can back it up.  If he can hit 35 a year and patrol right field with his cannon arm, who cares if he’s a prima donna.

      • Anthony

        who cares what a writer thinks

  • Dorasaga

    I like what I’m hearing from Garza. He’s ready. He researched on his manager; he knows his place as a veteran on and off the field. He drove to work like most Americans.

    With Matt anchored the rotation, plus all the “hungry, hungry, hungry” young players on this 40-man roster, this team will perform better than the 60-70 wins that most of us predicted on CCO.

    I’m not saying this team will win more. I think they’ll put up better fights day game in-night game out, and at least play with better fundamentals.

  • Jeff in AZ

    Great update Neil. Thank goodness we all have this site. Not sure where else quality content like this exists. I also enjoy the educated posters and spirited debates on this site. Keep up the great work CCO Staff and loyal posters! Come on march 4th…

    • WidespreadHisPanic

      Word up

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thank you, I really appreciate it.

  • Jeff in Az

    The Cubs need to publicly withrdaw their name from Cespedes. He obviously wants to play for the Marlins and from what I read (and saw)in the tribune today, he has a high opinion of himself to go along with his cheesy promo video. Pass.

    • gary3411

      Why does that mean they NEED to publicly withdraw their name? So Joe fans aren’t disappointed when we do not land him? Just wondering if that was your logic, or was it that we are above Cespedas and his circus?

      • Aaron

        I actually get what Jeff is saying Gary…and I might have it all wrong, but what I think he’s saying is this:

        The Cubs should withdraw from considering Cespedes in a public way just to make a point. Why? Because if they don’t, then they’re acknowledging the “me first” behavior is okay, and are setting a bad precedent. 

        Quite frankly, I have NO idea what anyone sees in that guy. Initially I was intrigued by him, then I saw video, then the hoopla, then finally more video in the form of ACTUAL competition in winter ball

        • cc002600

          don’t forget, that was his first action since last March.  That’s a long time.

          • SuzyS

            cc002600…the problem I have with Cespedes is that the $$$ involved equal and established mlb player’s contract. I’ve seen his age listed as either 26 or 27????
            Cespedes MIGHT have a ton of talent…but it is far from proven…& due to his age…he’ll have little time to benefit his team while trying to prove himself.
            Vitters is in the system 5 years now (nothing so far)…and Shark finally just had a decent year last year…after the floundering for four years.
            If they sign Cespedes for 40 to 60 mil (as it’s projected) and he has either an injury or growing pains…you could have a 32 year old or older rookie on your hands for a ton of cash.
            No Bargain there.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Right on, Suzy. 

          • Anthony

            too busy making pompous promo videos, or cycling off

        • Schwimmer

          Aaron, you are one of the sharpest guys on this blog…so, “respectfully” I ask:  what is the point of the CUBS “publicly” withdrawing?  Why would you do that?  There is nothing to be gained by telling all the other Teams that you aren’t competiting with them for a player.

          A better strategy is to let the MARLINS spend  more money because of their fear that the CUBS and other teams might “outbid” them.

          Why help any other ball club by making them think there is less competition for a good player?

          By the way:  I totally think it is a bad idea to spend so much money for CESPEDES, in any case.  It is one thing to spend $5 to $10 mil on a player who has never played MLB…but has potential.

          But it is ridiculous to take a “crap shoot” and pay CESPEDES $30 to $50 mil for 6 years…hoping that he’ll be a great star.

          That is way to big of a financial risk.  Especially, considering that the CUBS do not have a budget that leaves much room for that kind of error.

          • Anthony

            why would the Cubs care what the Marlins pay? What is the benefit I keep reading hear about “driving up the price”?

            It doesn’t matter, and it benefits nobody else what a team pays a player, each team operates financially independent of the others. Geez

          • gary3411

             Not true, I’ve stated this a few times in recent days. Every team has a budget, except maybe the Yankees. So, if the Marlins have to spend 60mil on Cespedas instead of 40mil because the Cubs drove up the price by being interested until the end, then that means the Marlins have 20 million less dollars to spend on players over the next 5 years. That is 4 million dollars per year. The Marlins are in the National League and are direct competitors with the Cubs for multiple series each year and potentially to get to the world series. If they are worse, we are better “relative” to them.

            To put into perspective, if we had a hard salary cap of say 120 million dollars in baseball, but for some reason the Cubs could only spend 116 million dollars each year, would that give every other team an advantage over the Cubs? Yes. Now, there is no salary cap, but every team has a budget, and at some point that 20 million dollars would have gone to other major league players/more scouts/player development, wherever, it doesn’t matter. No team is the Federal Reserve and can print money whenever they want ( I don’t think).

            That is how driving the price of a player benefits all the other teams who do not sign that player. The Marlins will be able to spend 4 million less per year on average than they would have if the price wasn’t “driven” up to 60mil. So, the Cubs would have given themselves an “advantage,” albeit not a huge one I will admit, but why would you not want every advantage you can get?

            While, none of us actually know if this “driving” the price up really works. Does it really cause the other team to pay significantly more? I’m sure every situation is different and the agents play a huge role in that, so it’s hard to say because none of us have been in those talks. But, in theory, you would think a team can at least drive the price up a bit on a player by publicly leaking they are pursuing said player “strongly.”

            I think this concept is rather easy to grasp, but maybe not. Please let me know if I’m explaining this weird or it sounds confusing for some reason, I tried another way yesterday, this is my second attempt.

          • gary3411

             One note to add, and I’m not so sure this exists, but I do believe this sort of ‘driving’ up the price on a free agent requires a good amount of strategy.

            A GM cannot just start putting in the papers and phone calls to other execs getting the word out that they are interested in every single free agent, just to try to drive up all their prices. Eventually GM’s will catch on and either

            A)never listen to the rumors anymore about your team, essentially ending this strategy as a whole right there

            or

            B)they will lose all respect for you and play it against you in future trade talks

            On the flip side, if you are temporarily labeled as a GM that just tries driving up the price on players, then when you really want a player that other GM may just ignore your presence and you can sweep in and grab that certain player for less than what you would have if there was a bidding war.

            This is the underground game of GM’s and agents I would lose to witness. It’s like poker with massive stakes dealing people not chips! Crazy. And i can guarantee our guys are thinking about this stuff every day, and that Jim Hendry may have tried it once or twice but probably just ended up getting played by all the other smarter GMs that are out there.

          • Anthony

            wrong gary

            each team functions independently based on their own budget

            each team also places their own perceived value on a player

          • gary3411

             by function independently, are you implying each team has unlimited money to spend? You do admit each team has a budget correct? Maybe not a strict year to year budget, but at least a five year-average budget or so. Actually I don’t even know why I’m asking that because that is a fact.

            Yes each team places their own value on a player. If team A places their value at 60mil and team B bids only until 40mil, will team A sign that player for 60mil? NO, they will sign him for just over 40mil. If team B bids for 55mil, team A will sign that player for around 60mil. Team B drove up the price that Team A had to spend on this particular player. If Team B was never involved, Team A would have signed the player for around 40mil, maybe less.

            In the end, Team B costed Team A 15-20million dollars. That is as simple as it can be put. Anyone who doesn’t understand this concept, I feel for you.

            Don’t come back with a generic couple sentences, they do not prove any of this simple math and econoimics wrong. They are facts.

          • John_CC

            That is such crap, Anthony. I know you and many others like to believe you know more, know better than Epstein, but the fact is he is a highly regarded guy in the league. You really think that when rumors start circulating that Epstein (either Red Sox or now Cubs) is interested in a player that the other GMs interested in that player don’t take note?  Really?  Do you think it effects how they pursue said players? 

            If you really believe that every team operates in a vacuum then I will just stop now, because this is pointless (it is anyway) and I will stop.

          • Schwimmer

            I totally agree with you.  Anthony does not understand how Team budgets work.

          • Schwimmer

            Thanks for explaining it to Anthony.

            I don’t what Planet he’s on???

            Theo & Company are very smart and they do NOT telegraph their plans for the exact reasons you stated.

          • Schwimmer

            You are totally wrong!
            It matters a lot what Teams pay.

            The more your opponent spends to field a baseball team…the less he has to make a bid against a player YOU want to acquire.

            Common sense…says there is no benefit to “telegraphing” whether you will or won’t bid on a Player.  Geez!

          • Aaron

            The whole point of my response to Jeff’s post was that it would send a message that they won’t go after that type of player. However, having read other responses, especially with the driving up the price variety….i have been persuaded

          • gary3411

             Thank you Aaron. Respect to you for considering my skinny posts!

            I think Anthony is intelligent enough to grasp the concept, he must just not be reading them.

          • Schwimmer

            Thank you Aaron.  I like a guy who has an opinion (like you)…and, when he hears a new insight…he’s open to re-considering his own view.

            A great example of driving up the price for a player…was CASHMAN meeting with Carl Crawford…knowing full well that EPSTEIN and BOSTON was interested in signing him.

            Cashman, in an interview said, he had “no intention” of signing Crawford…but he knew it would affect Boston’s offer…so, he “played them.”

            That’s why THEO & Company say very little when they are interested in acquiring a player.  That is smart negotiating.

        • gary3411

          That is decent logic about sending a message about the me behavior. However, I think they could accomplish the same thing by still staying in the hunt all the way and after he signs with Marlins or White Sox, THEN say publicly we just weren’t intrigued by his selfishness, that is why we didn’t sign him, but we stayed in it until the end because of his talent and potential. Wouldn’t that be a much better route because then they can drive up the price a little, while still sending the same message. And getting to know him a little better personally through extensive interviews, not just from his agent.

           In fact, that message might be even more powerful because it shows even though we were so moved by his talent and ceiling, we just couldn’t have a guy like that on our team. The other guys on the team will probably notice this over just dropping out of it right now.

          That’s how I’d approach it at least if my main goal was to send a message. 2 birds with 1 stone.

          But in all honesty, they no doubt should save the money to go after starting pitching next year, and see who of Ha, Jackson, Sczur, Lake(RF), and Vitters(LF) can step it up and what they can accomplish in 2012. If most stagnate then Ethier will probably be strongly considered for 2013.

      • Jeff in Az

        The latter gary. Cespedes does not strike me as someone who would fit in with the new “cubs way”. Baseball is better …without egocentric aholes like this Cespedes.

        • gary3411

           No doubt, I don’t think he fits. But calling him an egocentric ahole off a couple of selective quotes and the way he dresses?

          That does not necessarily mean at all he will

          A)not give effort on the diamond

          B)show up his teammates/call them out/get in fights with them (Z)

          If a player does those two things how he should, he should never have a problem with a teammate. They may not be friends because of his ego, but as teammates and professional ballplayers if you provide those 2 characteristics everyone should respect you and a championship can be won.

          I sure know a lot of people who would talk themselves up in the media and put on a show and dress similarly if they thought it could net them a few more million dollars, yet at the same time always give a hundred percent and never intentionally disrespect a teammate. Doesn’t mean their a bad person at all, just maybe a bit selfish and think they’re better than they are, which some people probably can’t help, some of that comes from genetics and the brain.

          Not saying he is one way or the other, I would have no clue. That is why I’m sure Epstein & Co. is attempting to interview former teammates, neighbors, etc. That is the only way to truly know without having met the guy.

          If I had to bet, he probably is egocentric and a bit of a ahole LOL. But that is not a label we can give him at this point.

          • Jeff in Az

            Sounds like if I told you the sky was blue you would tell me it’s purple. Hey everybody has a man crush and apparently I insulted yours. Apologies.

          • Jeff in Az

            P.S. Have you seen his cheesy promo video? That would be the egocentric part. The sunglases indoors while meeting with an ownership group in miami that is willing to pay him millions of dollars as an uproven talent makes him an AHOLE.

            I stand by my both of my previous statements. Thanks for your thoughts though.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    NEIL does that mean they r looking at Gaub as a long man out of the pen or a starter?

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      I would not go as far as saying a long-man but a multi-inning man and not a lefty specialist.

  • Richieweston6

    perfect randy wells was already left off the fourty man roster!