Time for the Off-Season to Begin … Cubs Hire Minor League Pitching Coordinator and Other News and Notes

Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants for winning their second World Series title in three years …

When the Cubs announced the new staff structure for baseball operations last Tuesday, two positions had not been filled at that time … Minor League Pitching Coordinator and Minor League Hitting Coordinator. According to Baseball America, at least one position has been filled.

The Cubs have hired long-time Vanderbilt pitching coach Derek Johnson to be the organization’s Minor League Pitching Coordinator. Johnson has been the Commodores pitching coach for the last 11 seasons and has helped the likes of David Price, Mike Minor, Sonny Gray, Casey Weathers, Jeremy Sowers and Grayson Garvin take the next step in their development.

Cubs 40-Man Roster
The Cubs spent last week tweaking their 40-man roster and in the process Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer created several openings.

Over three days the Cubs made 11 roster moves and opened at least four spots on the Major League roster. The Cubs designated Anthony Recker for assignment in order to add former first round pick Carlos Gutierrez to the 40-man. The Mets claimed Recker off waivers the next day.

On Wednesday, the Cubs outrighted Marcos Mateo, Miguel Socolovich, Jason Berken and Adrian Cardenas off the 40-man and assigned all four players to Triple-A Iowa. Friday afternoon, the Cubs announced that the Royals claimed Chris Volstad on waivers and soon after the Volstad news hit the wire, the Cubs announced four more players were outrighted off the 40-man and assigned to Triple-A Iowa.

Justin Germano, Blake Parker, Joe Mather and Manny Corpas were outrighted off the roster and Corpas elected free agency instead of accepting his assignment to Triple-A. The 40-man roster officially stands at 33 players with Matt Garza, Arodys Vizcaino and Ian Stewart on the 60-day DL. Once those three players are reinstated, the Cubs 40-man roster will have 36 players on it … and several decisions to make.

The Cubs gain a roster spot with free agent Shawn Camp. The Cubs would like to bring Camp back but be better served to wait to sign him to later in the off-season. There is no reason to sign Camp now and have him take a valuable roster spot all winter.

Another spot could be opened by sending Casey Coleman through waivers and assign him to Triple-A Iowa. Coleman has been given multiple opportunities to show he can get outs at the big league level and has not seized those opportunities.

Bryan LaHair had an opportunity to play in Japan last year and turned down the offer for a chance to play with the Cubs. LaHair had a tremendous start to the season and was voted onto the NL All-Star squad. But LaHair struggled mightily after his hot start, lost his starting job when Anthony Rizzo was promoted then to Brett Jackson when he was called up. LaHair does not figure to be in the Cubs’ plans moving forward. At this point, the Cubs could use his roster spot in order to protect a younger player from the Rule 5 Draft.

News and Notes
Several of the Cubs’ prospects are on their way back to Mesa and will spend the week in ‘Camp Bussy/Camp Jarrow‘. The off-season program formerly named ‘Camp Colvin‘ kicks off Monday and is now named after Tim Buss and Doug Jarrow, the Cubs strength and conditioning coaches.

Javier Baez realizes he has to get used to playing third base.

According to a report from the Sun-Times, the Cubs promoted Vijay Tekchandani from community affairs and projects coordinator to traveling secretary, replacing the team’s longtime traveling secretary Jimmy Banks.

Tony Zych is trying to pitch his way onto the Cubs’ roster.

The Cubs are expected to start interviewing for Bob Brenly’s replacement in the coming days. Several names with Cubs’ ties are interested including Rick Sutcliffe, Dan Plesac, Doug Glanville, Gary Matthews Sr. and Eric Karros. The Sarge spent time with Bruce Levine during Talkin’ Baseball on Saturday morning and said he has not been asked to interview yet. According to the Sun-Times, Eric Karros may be the early front-runner for the gig to replace Bob Brenly.

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Quote of the Day

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  • RynoTiger

    what type of move would the Cubs have to make to get LaHair off the 40-man? Is it designate for assignment? Is it one of those where he could refuse assignment and opt to be a free agent?

  • Aaron

    They would outright him off the roster to AAA, in which case he can elect free agency, and sign with whomever he wishes. There are rules associated with that, but because he was with another organization before and on their 40-man with MLB service time, plus years in the minors, he can refuse. I can’t remember the rules off the top of my head, because they are very long. I would highly recommend doing a Google search, or looking at AZ Phil’s roster stuff, as he does a much more thorough job of explaining it.

    I still believe the Cubs need to clear at least 4 more spots (making a total of 9 available slots, assuming Stewart is non-tendered as he should be). I still believe Brigham (injuries and limited upside), Coleman, one of Raley/Rusin, Campana (if he doesn’t hit this winter), and LaHair will be outrighted, and even Concepcion stands a chance of being outrighted. That would give them 9-11 spots right there.

    I would think that Batista, Antigua (outside chance of getting selected), Kirk, McNutt, Peralta, Rosario, Villanueva, Watkins, and Whitenack would likely be selected. While Peralta, Rosario, and Antigua might seem like reaches, all 3 have good arms, and teams like to stash them if they can get away with it. McNutt, Batista, Villanueva, Watkins, and Whitenack almost surely would be taken though. With the lack of power arms, they simply cannot chance losing McNutt and Whitenack.

    But here’s something else to consider….We know that they will likely sign 2 FA starting pitchers, 1 FA infielder that can play 3B, and one FA outfielder, plus, possibly pen arms.

    Then, factor in guys like Zych, Rhoderick, and possibly Burke (who will be a minor league FA), and might also get added to the roster, and you can see that the Cubs might need all 9-11 of those spots created

  • Ripsnorter1

    If they had not throw away DJ LeMahieu to the Rockies for Stewart, they would not have needed the subpar offensive producer Valbuena. And they would not need to sign a FA infielder. Sure LeMahieu lacks power, but we will have to wait and see if they do sign a FA 3B with power. I don’t think they will this year, but again, we shall see.

  • BosephHeyden

    That World Series last night (or the parts I caught, which was basically just the 10th inning) depressed me a bit. To see three guys that the Cubs all but gave away (I count Gregor Blanco because he was with the team in Spring Training a few years back and was passed on despite the fact he looked fairly good in favor of some random scrub that obviously did nothing for us) go on to win World Series rings (and Ryan Theriot winning his second in a row) just makes me realize how truly low the bar is set for this management team. They basically just need to not give away loads of players for nothing to be better. And it also make you realize that just being better than the previous regimes isn’t good enough.

  • paulcatanese

    Teams should be lineing up for Theriot, everywhere he goes, he brings a World Seires, and he dosent even need to play as a regular. He leads a charmed life.:)

  • Dorasaga

    I’m endorsing “Sarge” Matthews to be our next voice. He was a lot of fun to listen with the Phill, and good with ANY kind of guests. As professional as Brenly-Kasper combo was, it was a dry and boring booth with any guest not baseball-related.

  • Dorasaga

    You know, the Cubs PR used to be very good at selling fans crap like Pagan has an intestinal disease, stamina won’t last the season, and a replacement level player. Guess what, I didn’t see that when he was traded, despite the misguided public opinion at the time: “Pagan has speed, and though he doesn’t have the arm, he can read the flyball pretty well.

    His long and old colon (intestine) problem that broke out in the summer hampered his ability to play in 2007. If he found a suitable medicare, I can’t see why he’s a bad player.”


    Trust your own opinion sometimes. Better than the organization’s!