Weekend Update … It’s Decision Time for the Cubs

The next few days should be anything but boring for the Chicago Cubs. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer checked off two items from their off-season to do list when they signed Scott Baker and Dioner Navarro last week. The next deadline for the Cubs is Tuesday when they must file their reserve lists to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft.

The Cubs have two open spots on their 40-man roster and several players that could be selected in the draft on December 6. There are moves that could, and should, be made which would create space on the 40-man in order to keep players with better projections in the system.

The Cubs search to replace Bob Brenly will not include Dan Plesac. According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, Dan Plesac informed WGN on Friday that he would be staying with the MLB Network and withdrew from consideration. The report also confirmed that Doug Glanville is no longer in the running for the job.

Patrick Mooney reported that longtime Astros color analyst, Jim Deshaies, recently interviewed for the Cubs job.

Kyuji Fujikawa
According to reports out of Japan and from the Dallas Morning News, veteran reliever Kyuji Fujikawa visited Chicago last Thursday and toured Wrigley Field. The reports also indicated that Fujikawa is scheduled to visit the Angels and Dodgers and has visited the Diamondbacks.

Fujikawa is a free agent and looking to pitch in the Major Leagues next season. Due to his free agent status, he will not be subject to a posting fee. The 32-year old right hander as a 26-18 record in 345 games in Japan with a 1.36 ERA and a 0.85 WHIP. Over six seasons with the Hanshin Tigers, Fujikawa has notched 202 saves. Last season, Fujikawa was 2-2 in 48 games with 24 saves. In 47 2/3 innings, Fujikawa struck out 58 batters, walked 15 and surrendered 34 hits (1.32 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP).

Fujikawa features a low-90s fastball, a slider and a forkball.

Kyuji Fujikawa’s Page on Baseball-Reference

Cubs Rumors
During Talkin’ Baseball (ESPN 1000) on Saturday morning, Bruce Levine teased that he thinks there is a big trade on the horizon for the Cubs that will be a swap of young players for young players. Levine did not share any details of what he has heard (teams or players that could be involved). Just before the show ended, Fred Huebner and Bruce Levine discussed the recent signing of Dioner Navarro.

The Cubs view Welington Castillo as an everyday catcher and were very happy with the progress he made last season. The addition of Navarro means one of two things for Steve Clevenger according to Levine. Clevenger will likely start the season in the minors or be used as part of a big trade. Levine reported the Cubs and Indians have continued to discuss a deal that would include Lonnie Chisenhall. The Cubs are interested in Chisenhall and the Indians like several of the players in the Cubs’ system. Levine did not go into details, again, of what players a trade between the Cubs and Indians could include.

Rule 5 Draft
The deadline to file reserve lists at the major and minor league levels is Tuesday (November 20). The Cubs have several decisions to make over the next two days on which players in their system to add to the 40-man roster in order to protect from the Rule 5 Draft. The Cubs have two open spots on the 40-man roster and several questions they must find answers to prior to Tuesday’s deadline.

The Cubs could create additional spots to protect players such as Trey McNutt, Logan Watkins, Christian Villanueva, Austin Kirk, Frank Batista, Robert Whitenack and Jose Rosario … just to name a few. Casey Coleman remains on the 40-man roster after multiple chances to prove himself as a big league pitcher. Coleman has not shown he can throw enough strikes in the majors, much less retire big league hitters. Coleman has a 1.68 WHIP in 165 innings in the majors with a 4.4 BB/9 … and a less than 2:1 strikeout to walk ratio (118 strikeouts, 83 walks).

The Cubs must make decisions on both Bryan LaHair and Ian Stewart. LaHair had an excellent start to his first full season in the big leagues but was pushed to the bench twice when Anthony Rizzo and Brett Jackson were promoted. LaHair does not figure to be in the Cubs’ plans moving forward. Ian Stewart was a big disappointment before finishing his first season with the Cubs on the disabled list. The Cubs appear to be lukewarm on Stewart returning to the point that even Stewart himself has questioned [on Twitter] if he will be tendered a contract for next season. The deadline to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players for next season is not until November 30 but his spot could be used to protect a player they thinks fits in with the organization’s plans moving forward. If they are happy with Stewart and plan on tendering him a contract, that is fine. But waiting to non-tender him and risking losing a prospect in the system would be the wrong move.

Players in the Cubs’ system eligible for the Rule 5 Draft

  • Jeffry Antigua, LHP
  • Frank Batista, RHP
  • Jason Berken, RHP
  • J. C. Boscan, C
  • Justin Bour, 1B
  • Michael Brenly, C
  • Michael Burgess, OF
  • Kyler Burke, LHP
  • David Cales, RHP
  • Esmailin Caridad, RHP
  • Marcelo Carreno, RHP
  • Matt Cerda, INF
  • Hunter Cervenka, LHP
  • Evan Crawford, OF
  • Willengton Cruz, LHP
  • Michael de la Cruz, RHP
  • Antonio Encarnacion, RHP
  • Carlos Figueroa, INF
  • Eduardo Figueroa, RHP
  • Marcus Hatley, RHP
  • Ty’Relle Harris, RHP
  • Jay Jackson, RHP
  • Alvido Jimenez, RHP
  • Austin Kirk, LHP
  • Luis Liria, RHP
  • Jeff Lorick, LHP
  • Marcos Mateo, RHP
  • Edwin Maysonet, INF
  • Trey McNutt, RHP
  • Pedro Medina, RHP
  • Jose Montesino, INF
  • A. J. Morris, RHP
  • Jonathon Mota, INF
  • Blake Parker, RHP
  • Felix Pena, RHP
  • Starling Peralta, RHP
  • Nelson Perez, OF
  • Dae-Eun Rhee, RHP
  • Greg Rohan, IF-OF
  • Jose Rosario, RHP
  • Zac Rosscup, LHP
  • Julio Sanchez, RHP
  • Brian Schlitter, RHP
  • Ryan Searle, RHP
  • Matt Spencer, LHP
  • Nick Struck, RHP
  • Larry Suarez, RHP
  • Francisco Turbi, RHP
  • Christian Villanueva, 3B
  • Brett Wallach, RHP
  • Logan Watkins, INF
  • Casey Weathers, RHP
  • Robert Whitenack, RHP
  • Ty Wright, OF

Source: The Cub Reporter

News and Notes
Bud Selig met with the media Thursday during the Owners Meetings. The Chicago media asked the commissioner what he thought about the way the Cubs are being run in the wake of the latest Marlins’ fire sale. Bud Selig gave his stamp of approval to the Cubs’ plan for building an organization with sustained success. Mr. Selig added that if he was running a franchise he would follow what Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are doing to a T.

According to a report from the Sun-Times, Bud Selig has offered to help Tom Ricketts with his efforts to get $160 million in public money for Wrigley Field renovations. Mr. Selig and Ricketts have discussed the matter but Ricketts doesn’t expect for Selig to get involved with the talks.

The Cubs have changed ad agencies from the New York-based Brooklyn Brothers to the Chicago-based Schafer Condon Carter Inc. The contract between Schafer Condon Carter and the Cubs is for the 2013 season and the Cubs hope to continue the relationship.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"Always make a total effort, even when the odds are against you." - Arnold Palmer
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  • Tony_Hall

    With the Cubs needing to protect more than 2 players, some guys have got to go.

    All teams are looking at their rosters right now and the next 2 days gets to be a cat and mouse game. All teams know which players that are out of waivers on everyone else’s 40 man rosters, they also know which players teams may be releasing to create spots for younger players that need protection from the Rule V draft. Roster spots are at a premium, so keeping a Casey Coleman, only makes sense if he is going to be in the bullpen next year. But which guys will they chance to pass through waivers and be able to assign to Iowa right now.

    I have and many others have listed names of guys to cut and guys to protect and we will know by Tuesday, who the Cubs actually do as well. Here is what I can guarantee, they will not protect someone who some feel should have been, and they will not release someone who many felt should be released. We will hear all the arguments why the great player will be taken and it is such a great loss, and how it is such a waste to keep the other player. But keep in mind, we are talking about players at the bottom of our 40 man roster. No guys named Baez, Almora, Paniagua, Johnson, Amoya, etc are ever the guys that are left unprotected. The players that are left unprotected are usually projected to be role players or avg to below avg major league players, who no team was willing to trade for the previous year. You see teams have been working on this more than just this week. They already know which teams want the players from their own minor league system by trade discussions held over the past year. Teams try to trade their guys who will be Rule V eligible (short term minor league asset) and get other teams players who are not going to be eligible for the Rule V.

    Case in point, the Cubs received Villanueva in trade. He needs to be protected or another team may take him. But he is looking to be in AA this year, so he is a tough call. If they protect him you will hear it was a waste of a roster spot, because it caused us to lose player x. If they don’t protect him, he could very well be taken by a team like the Astros who can put him on the roster for the year. The Rangers probably already knew they were going to have to risk him being taken, so they were more willing to trade him than lose him in the Rule V.

    I see the Cubs trying to put through guys like Coleman, Gutierrrez, Castillo, Putnam, Rusin and Raley through waivers to clear some roster spots, and hope that most make it through while teams might not have the 40 man roster spots to use on these guys. What might be more interesting, as none of those guys are anything more than roster fillers, is who they protect and who they chance, that is what is going to be more interesting.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Christian Villanueva is not ready for the bigs. They have to leave him unprotected, imo. Big strikeout guy with few walks, not much usable speed, and very unpolished hit tool. He has great potential, but if anyone takes him, it will ruin him forever. That’s my opinion.

      Signed,

      David Patton

      • Tom U

        I’m sorry, but I have to disagree Rip. If last year’s Rule 5 draft taught us anything, it’s that you can successfully keep a Rule 5 position player on your roster all season (and, maybe, even make the playoffs) if you play it right.

        To that end, a sharp-eyed team that has a history of player development, such as the Minnesota Twins, would pounce on a player like Villanueva, especially since he fits some of their needs.

        The player I’m concerned about losing is Frank Batista. He’s almost major league ready, and would be a good fit for a team needing relief help. Toronto, Houston, Minnesota, and our old pals, the Red Sox, could be interested.

        • Ripsnorter1

          It will be interesting to see who they protect and do not protect.

          Can we agree that is makes no sense to protect Casey Coleman?

          • Tony_Hall

            I think everyone agrees on that one…then again, we will see if it is everyone soon enough.

          • Puzzled

            If you are coming off a 100 loss season, why would you try and sign a 32 year old closer from Japan? This would make no sense.

          • Tony_Hall

            Why would you not look into a 32 year old closer from Japan?

            Isn’t it there job to look into all players that are available?

            That way they can determine if he can be useful and add value to the franchise in the short term helping out the bullpen, and the long term as a trade asset.

          • paulcatanese

            A look cannot hurt, but I would ask, how can he lose 18 games in Japan?

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Raymond-Robert-Koenig/1295439291 Raymond Robert Koenig

            18 games in 6 seasons.

          • J Daniel

            Maybe they will need someone to replace Marmol?

          • Ripsnorter1

            Shawn Camp was 37 in 2012 season for the Cubs. He pitched in 80 games.

          • paulcatanese

            It makes perfect sense to protect Coleman, after all he is one of the few that have learned to manipulate the journey from the clubhouse to the playing field:)
            All kidding aside, do not protect him.

          • Tom U

            Agreed

          • Tedtop16

            Jim Deshaies would be a great addition to the broadcast booth. He is knowledgeable and funny. He and Bill Brown do a great job making it interesting. The Astros putting out such a lousy product. I hope that something can be worked out to get him.

        • Tony_Hall

          I would rather lose some of the pitchers I listed above and hitters like Lahair, Clevenger, Stewart, Valbuena, than not protect some of the names we need to protect. Now, I don’t think we need to cut 10 guys, but we need to protect at least 4 or 5 guys in Watkins, Villanueva and at least 2-3 of the pitchers Neil listed above.

          • Ripsnorter1

            I see no reason to protect Valbuena. I agree with you.

          • Tony_Hall

            I think you are mixing up protecting guys, not on the 40 man, and releasing guys on the 40 man.

            Valbuena, just like Vitters, and anyone else on the 40 man, would be released and put through waivers.

        • Aaron

          Just to go off previous lists, and recap the most vulnerable guys on the 40-man to be dropped…here you go:

          Coleman
          Stewart
          LaHair
          Concepcion
          Gutierrez
          Putnam
          Brigham
          Rusin
          Raley
          ….probably in that order too

          I hope they have a plan, because I”m sure not seeing one. Between signing mediocre free agents during this past season, such as: Berken, Germano, Hinshaw, etc., and this offseason with guys like Gutierrez and Putnam….it truly is perplexing that they can’t find a single high-end arm in FA pick-ups or even via trade.

          If they don’t protect McNutt and Whitenack…and maybe even Rosario and Peralta, then they don’t have a clue. Starters that throw mid-90’s, and have experienced success in the minors just don’t grow on trees.

          • Tony_Hall

            You don’t see a plan? Really?

            I know, you know, they have a plan, and what they are doing. Who they protect is all about who they think will be taken, and if they are taken, do they feel it is a loss or not, versus who else they would lose.

            All teams have players that they are exposing to the Rule V, they would like to keep. You can’t protect everyone. If we have anyone taken (which usually happens), they will wish they kept that player, but hopefully they will offset it by taking someone else’s player. In essence we traded Flaherty and Gonzalez for Castillo last year, a little lopsided, but we then offset those 2 utility infield spots with guys like Valbuena, Cardenas, etc.

            If they don’t protect, who you say, they don’t have a clue? Please, I think they have a lot more information on these guys then you do, have watched a lot more video then you have. This isn’t JH’s FO anymore, where they may not have had the manpower, the video, the data to look over every player. This FO not only has the info, but also is good at timing transactions to minimize the loss of players who would be claimed on waivers if released at other times. That is why they are waiting to make the final moves until right before the rosters are set for Rule V. Most teams don’t have roster spots, just like the Cubs, to pick up a player that is being waived off of the 40 man roster right now. The players being waived right now are usually nothing more than roster fillers (which all teams need) for the back end of the 25 man roster or their AAA team. It is easier to slip them through to the AAA roster, off of the 40 man roster now, than it was 2-3 weeks ago.

            You have thrown a fit for a year because of Flaherty and Gonzalez and how they didn’t have a clue then. It really was no great loss. Very rarely has a player been picked up in Rule V that has been anything more than an average major league player. Guys like Santana and Hamilton are the exception, not the rule. But every team likes to try and grab a player every year to find the next Santana (Hamilton was known to be a talent, as we all know it was his off the field issues that made teams pass).

            Either way, it is very likely someone will be claimed that is the next great superstar, that will fizzle out in someone else’s farm system, as if they are truly an above average prospect, they would either have made already, or would be worth the 40 man roster spot.

          • J Daniel

            Very well and respectfully said!

          • Aaron

            How was Flaherty and Gonzalez not a great loss? Valbuena was horrible….despite how you seem to be making him out to be your comment of “off-setting”. Stewart was dreadful. Cardenas never played. Vitters was dreadful.

            Flaherty was still young, had power, and played ALL infield positions, plus corner OF. So you honestly think we couldn’t have used him last year? What, with LaHair tanking in the 2nd half…don’t you think we could’ve at least tried him? With management even approaching LaHair about giving 3B a try, don’t you think Flaherty could’ve been useful?

            True, Gonzalez and Flaherty were up with the Astros and O’s the whole year, but they didn’t play a full season. In fact, Flaherty had about 20 more plate appearances on the season than Jackson did with his late season call-up.

            The Cubs struggled all year with IF and OF depth, which is why they had to dumpster dive for Valbuena and Cardenas (whom I actually liked, but the Cubs never gave him a chance).

            Even Hoyer lamented their loss, and hoped they’d get them back after Spring Training, so get off your high horse, and don’t act like they didn’t miss Flaherty and Gonzalez one bit. Also, both were left-handed (Gonzalez bats both), and played better defense. Valbuena made flashier plays, but had 7 errors. (Flaherty had 1, and Gonzalez had 5…all at SS for Gonzalez)

          • Tony_Hall

            So losing Flaherty and Gonzalez was a great loss, yet Valbuena was horrible.

            Let’s compare there numbers.

            GREAT LOSS

            Flaherty 216/258/359
            Gonzalez 234/280/327

            HORRIBLE PLAYER
            Valbuena 219/310/340

            So Valbuena had the best OBP by 30 pts and Flaherty had the best Slugging by 19 and Gonzalez had the best average by 15. Nothing in these numbers says any of them are a great loss if you didn’t have them. All 3 are below replacement level of play and all would need to drastically improve to have much of a career on a major league team.

            I actually hear that Hoyer couldn’t sleep for weeks from this great loss. Of course he told the press he didn’t want to lose them, no GM wants to lose a player to the Rule V, so not sure what horse you think I am on, but I only can look up to you sitting on yours, never wrong and everyone who even dares to disagree with you is cluess or an idiot. It is nice to know that both Gonzalez and Flaherty hit left handed, just like Valbuena does and I know errors is the tell all of defensive stats, but Valbuena is equal to, if not better defensively then both guys.

            None of these 3 guys are anything more than roster fillers, no great loss and easily replaceable. That would be the definition of why you don’t protect these type of guys from the Rule V draft.

          • Tony_Hall

            And don’t get me wrong, I get your obsession with Flaherty, Gonzalez, Colvin, Lemahieu. You tracked them from when they were drafted and wanted to see them make it in Chicago. My obsession has been Hak Ju Lee and Chris Archer. I get it, but it doesn’t mean this FO doesn’t have a clue.

      • Tony_Hall

        Top 100 prospects usually will get taken.

  • Bill

    Don’t agree with those who think we should protect Villanueva. He doesn’t hit for enough power to stay at 3B, and there are several better prospects at 2B. The guy hasn’t played above A+ level. I think a maiden has a better chance of winning the Kentucky Derby than Villanueva has of getting taken in the Rule 5 draft. It’s much easier to carry a pitcher than a position player for a whole season who doesn’t contribute. I just don’t think it’s a big loss if the Cubs lose him and I’d hate to lose other players, especially pitchers, when that’s where the Cubs are weak.

    • Tony_Hall

      You might want to check out Flaherty and Gonzalez that we lost last year in the Rule V. Both were stashed all year, and the Orioles made the playoffs.

      Flaherty – 216/258/359 – 153 AB’s

      Gonzalez -234/280/327 – 205 AB’s

      Now neither were a great loss nor were they a Top 100 prospect like Villanueva. It is possible that he would not get picked, that is the hardest part about putting guys on the 40 man roster that won’t be useful in the coming season to the 25 man roster. But, it also is hard to get Top 100 prospects, and you don’t want to lose them for nothing.

      • Aaron

        Ironically, both had better numbers in their first cup of coffee than the more heralded guys like Rizzo, B Jackson, and Vitters, and while I’m not trying to compare them in terms of ceilings, it is pretty interesting

        • Tony_Hall

          These guys spent all season, for their cup of coffee.

          I don’t think we will see either of these guy in an All Star Game, as you say, they have much lower ceilings. Isn’t that part of the key of who you protect? Guys with high ceiling are going to be protected.