Baseball Operations Staff Structures, Theo Epstein and Other Cubs News, Notes and Rumors

The Cubs announced several changes to the front office, scouting and field staff, plus a three-year contract extension for Assistant General Manager, Randy Bush. Dale Sveum finalized his coaching staff on Tuesday with the hiring of David Bell to replace Pat Listach as the team’s third base coach. The Cubs also removed the interim tag from hitting coach James Rowson.

Theo Epstein discussed his first year at the helm of baseball operations. Epstein stepped down from his position with the Red Sox on October 21, 2011 and officially became President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs on October 25. Epstein also addressed a few of the team’s off-season plans that include adding at least two starting pitchers and the possibility of converting a couple of the Cubs’ young relievers into starters.

Baseball Operations Staff Structures
The Cubs announced new structuring in the player development and scouting departments, as well as additions of new area and pro scouts on Tuesday. The Cubs hired Tim Cossins as Field Coordinator. Cossins had been in the Marlins’ organization. Alex Suarez received a promotion from coordinator of player development and international scouting to Assistant Director of Player Development and International Scouting. Former Cubs’ farmhand (2008-2011), David Macias, took a position in the Cubs’ front office as player development and international scouting assistant. Andrew Bassett received a promotion from baseball operations assistant to Pro Scouting Coordinator.

On the amateur scouting side, Lucas McKnight was promoted from regional crosschecker to Assistant Director of Amateur Scouting. The Cubs hired Shane Farrell as an amateur scouting assistant. Farrell is the son of new Red Sox’s manager John Farrell. Denny Henderson and Steve Hinton moved from pro scouting to amateur scouting.

The Cubs hired Chris Clemons, JP Davis and Alex Lontayo as area scouts and moved Mark Adair from pro scout to a regional crosschecker.

Jake Ciarrachi was promoted from pro scouting coordinator to pro scout and the Cubs hired three new pro scouts: Steve Boros, Terry Kennedy and Mark Kiefer.

The Cubs added Jason Karegeannes and Brad Kullman as Major League scouts. Dave Littlefield remains with the organization as a special assistant to the General Manager and Major League scout.

Player Development

  • Brandon Hyde, Director of Player Development
  • Tim Cossins, Field Coordinator
  • Alex Suarez, Assistant Director of Player Development/International Scouting
  • David Macias, Player Development/International Scouting Assistant

Amateur Scouting

  • Jaron Madison, Director of Amateur Scouting
  • Lucas McKnight, Assistant Director of Amateur Scouting
  • Shane Farrell, Amateur Scouting Assistant

International Scouting

  • Louie Eljaua, Special Assistant to the General Manager/Director of International Scouting
  • Alex Suarez, Assistant Director of Player Development/International Scouting
  • David Macias, Player Development/International Scouting Assistant
  • Paul Weaver, International Scouting Crosschecker, Coordinator of Pacific Rim Scouting

Pro Scouting

  • Joe Bohringer, Director of Pro Scouting
  • Andrew Bassett, Pro Scouting Coordinator

According to a report from ESPN Chicago, the Cubs are close to naming a minor league pitching coordinator and are working on finding a new minor league hitting coordinator.

Theo Epstein
Theo Epstein met with the media Tuesday to discuss his first year with the Chicago Cubs. Epstein acknowledged how great it would be playing baseball this time of year at Wrigley and said, “There is urgency (to win), but that urgency will be paid back through hard work to get us there to stay. It won’t necessarily translate into a panic to get us there, or a shot at getting us there quicker, if it means a less healthy organization.”

Epstein is confident the organization is going in the right direction and pointed to the fact the Cubs had one core player a year ago (Starlin Castro) and now there is perhaps a half-dozen core players in the organization (Jeff Samardzija, Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Javier Baez, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora). Epstein would like that number to double over the next year.

The Cubs will need to add at least two starting pitchers this off-season. The team is hoping Arodys Vizcaino will be able to join the rotation at some point during the 2013 season. Vizcaino is expected to be ready to go when Spring Training begins. Dale Sveum said at the end of the year that when Vizcaino is ready to pitch he will be limited to around 100 innings next year.

The Cubs have discussed making James Russell a starter again but Epstein said that’s not likely right now. According to ESPN Chicago, Alberto Cabrera will be turned back into a starter and will begin the year at the Triple-A level to work back into a starting pitcher. Chris Volstad does not appear to be in the Cubs’ plans moving forward and could be non-tendered … and both Brooks Raley and Chris Rusin will begin the season in Iowa according to the Tribune.

As for third base, the Cubs have not decided whether or not to tender Ian Stewart a contract for next season. One option is to non-tender Stewart and re-sign him for less than what he would receive through arbitration. The Cubs would still like to see how he could perform if fully healthy. According to multiple reports, the Cubs are not looking for a long-term solution at third base due to prospects such as Josh Vitters, Junior Lake, Christian Villanueva and possibly Javier Baez.

The Cubs are looking to add an outfielder to the mix in either center or in right. David DeJesus figures to fill whichever spot is left, depending on who the Cubs sign. Tony Campana could be an option for center but the Cubs would like to see more from him offensively. They are happy that Campana agreed to play ball this winter.

Epstein added, “I do feel energized by a lot of things that are going on here. I also wake up every day and recognize that we lost 101 games and understand how painful that was for everybody, including me, and that provides further motivation to get out of this position that we’re in.”

The Len and TBA Show
The search is on to find a replacement for Bob Brenly and for now, it is the Len and TBA Show, at least according to Twitter. An official list of candidates to replace Brenly has not surfaced but meetings were scheduled for this week to sort out all of the viable candidates.

The color analyst job would likely be a two-year guaranteed contract and that could limit the options to replace Bob Brenly. The color commentator is employed by WGN-TV and their contract with the Cubs runs out after the 2014 season. Bruce Levine speculated during his show (Talkin’ Baseball) on Saturday morning that could be the reason that Bob Brenly decided it was time to move on.

The Cubs are losing a lot of money annually with their current TV contracts. With the current rates that some teams are receiving to televise their games, the Cubs will have options starting after the 2014 season. While the contract with Comcast SportsNet does not expire until after the 2019 season, the team could receive extra revenue by increasing the games on Comcast SportsNet.

There has been talk for several years that the Cubs would start their own network and that is still an option, but it does not appear to be a viable one for at least seven more seasons … that is if there is not an opt out in the contract with Comcast SportsNet that is not public knowledge.

The Cubs could decide to move Keith Moreland over to the TV side and find a partner for Pat Hughes. Moreland has done a good job for two years and he could fit in with the timeframe that the Cubs have with WGN. It is unlikely that someone such as Dan Plesac would leave the MLB Network (has a three-four year contract) to take the Cubs’ job. Another viable option is Todd Hollandsworth.

Todd Hollandsworth has been doing pre and post-game on Comcast SportsNet for the last few years and has filled in for Brenly in the past. Hollandsworth has also gained valuable experience on MLB Network Radio (XM Radio). Hollandsworth has developed a way of stating his opinion and telling it the way it is without coming off as over bearing. With what lies ahead for the Cubs over the next few years, the honesty in the booth that Len Kasper and Bob Brenly created must continue.

News, Notes and Rumors
The Cubs are close to announcing the minor league managers and coaching staffs for all of their minor league affiliates.

According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs have begun discussing trade possibilities with other teams. Levine has not heard any names yet but the Cubs are looking for help in the outfield and at third base. The Cubs could look at trading for young players that may not have an opportunity to start with the team they are on now.

Former Cub, Micah Hoffpauir, is playing in the Japan Series after his team, the Nippon-Ham Fighters, won the Pacific League Championship.

During his weekly chat, Bruce Levine was asked about the possibility that the Cubs would be interested in B.J. Upton. Levine does not know if B.J. Upton would fit into the Cubs’ plans but said they might be “more inclined to bring in his brother than they would him.”

Shohei Otani, the 18-year old right-handed pitcher from Japan, created waves this week when he announced that he plans to play in the United States. Otani is a free agent and would count against a team’s International Free Agent bonus pool. The Dodgers, Red Sox and Rangers have met with Otani in Japan according to Baseball America and Otani said he plans on signing with one of those three teams.

According to Bruce Miles, the Cubs would like to bring back reliever Shawn Camp.

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Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax