Cubs Searching for Solution at Third Base, Not Done Adding Pitching

The Cubs are not done with the roster and will reportedly keep looking for ways to add more talent to the mix. The Cubs added another arm to the pitching staff Tuesday with the signing of Scott Feldman … the Cubs’ fourth signing (plus a handfull of minor league deals) of the off-season. But Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein still have holes they would like to fill.

The Cubs will have to make one roster move in the near future in order to officially add Scott Feldman to the 40-man roster. The Cubs did not have an open spot on the roster after the slew of roster moves that were made last week … and with Feldman in the fold the 40-man roster currently stands at 41 players.

While the focus right now is on the roster with the tender deadline and Winter Meetings just around the corner, the Cubs will be playing on a new surface at Wrigley Field next season …

Scott Feldman
The Cubs added depth to the pitching staff on Tuesday. Scott Feldman agreed to a one-year contract worth a guaranteed $6 million. The deal includes a $1 million performance based incentive package. Feldman is coming off a bad year with the Rangers, one in which led Jed Hoyer to describe Feldman as “one of the most unlucky pitchers in the game.” The Cubs signed Feldman as a starter and he is expected to join Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza, Scott Baker and Travis Wood to round out the rotation. Feldman knows he has to perform in order to remain a starter next season and told MLB Network Radio that he is taking nothing for granted.

The addition of Feldman gives the Cubs starting pitching depth and according to a report from Bruce Levine, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are likely not done adding pitching to the roster.

The Cubs will begin camp on February 9 with two question marks in the rotation. Matt Garza is coming off a significant injury and while he says he is healthy and has been cleared for off-season activities, until Garza begins throwing in Mesa the Cubs will not know for sure if he will be ready to go when the season begins.

The other question mark is Scott Baker. Baker has not begun throwing off a mound yet. Baker recently told MLB Network Radio that he is on schedule with his rehab from Tommy John. Baker thinks he will be ready to pitch when the season starts but it is unlikely he will begin the season on the active roster. Baker had Tommy John surgery last April.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have said on numerous occasions they would like to be 10 starters deep when Spring Training begins … and right now, they do not have 10 starters, even with Arodys Vizcaino. The Cubs have already said when Vizcaino is ready to pitch he will be on a strict innings limit.

Pitching, Pitching and More Pitching
As the cliche goes, once a team thinks it has enough pitching they should add more … and the Cubs reportedly are looking for arms to add to the staff.

The Cubs targeted Scott Feldman and Scott Baker when the off-season began but according to multiple reports, it’s too early in the off-season to rule out the Cubs signing a starting pitcher to a multi-year contract. Jed Hoyer addressed signing a pitcher to a multi-year contract and said “it would have to be the right player at the right price to get that kind of commitment from the Cubs.”

Shaun Marcum and Brandon McCarthy have been linked to the Cubs all off-season and could still be on the Cubs’ radar, along with pitchers that will be non-tendered by Friday’s deadline, according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.

FanGraphs applauded the signing of Scott Feldman, along with several other outlets, and it is still possible for the Cubs to reunite the former teammates … and end up with both ‘The Poor Man’s Brandon McCarthy‘ and the ‘realBrandon McCarthy this off-season.

Ian Stewart and Jeff Keppinger
The Cubs are exploring options to fill the hole at third base for next season. The Cubs have until Friday to decide whether or not they will tender Ian Stewart a contract for next season. Stewart confirmed (via Twitter) that he is taking light batting practice and hitting off a tee.

According to Comcast SportsNet, the Cubs are talking to Ian Stewart and will continue those conversations throughout the week. From the sound of Jed Hoyer’s comments, the Cubs are still undecided on which direction they will go with Stewart … but many feel he will be non-tendered and the Cubs will try to re-sign him to a minor league contract.

The Cubs have been connected to Jeff Keppinger since the end of the season. Keppinger would fit the Cubs’ need for a stop-gap third baseman, and a player that could be flipped at the deadline … but no one was sure how much the Cubs were interested in signing Keppinger until Tuesday morning.

According to a report from Buster Olney, the Cubs are one of three teams that had been aggressive on Jeff Keppinger before he broke his leg. The Rays would like to re-sign him and the Diamondbacks are the third team. Olney also reported that team evaluators were aware of Keppinger’s leg injury and did not consider it serious enough to keep them from signing him. The Cubs appear to bidding for Keppinger, along with the Rays and D-Backs.

Keppinger recently broke his right fibula when he tripped down stairs at his house.

The Cubs could be looking to fill the hole at third base via a trade according to Bruce Levine. But if the Cubs are unwilling to trade any of their young talent right now it could be difficult to find even a one-year stop gap via the trade route.

Wrigley Field
The worst playing surface in the Major Leagues is receiving all new sod and dirt according to a report from David Kaplan. Wrigley Field received a facelift prior to the 2008 season when the crown was removed and a new drainage system was installed. But the playing surface still caused trouble, especially with all of the extra activities such as concerts and corporate events.

The Cubs decided at the end of last season that they would completely remove the current field and replace it with all new sod and dirt to bring the field up to a more acceptable level for the players. The field will consist of a blend of dirt and Kentucky Bluegrass that was brought in from Colorado. The new playing surface will cost the team $400,000.

Kaplan also reported that the number of concerts, soccer games and corporate events will be curtailed next season. Wrigley Field is the most used baseball only stadium in the game.

News, Notes and Rumors
According to a report from Jon Heyman, the Marlins are not entertaining trades for Giancarlo Stanton.

Bruce Levine was told by one of his sources that the Cubs naming a new color analyst is not imminent. The Cubs, WGN TV, Comcast SportsNet and Crane Kenney will make the decision on Bob Brenly’s replacement.

During his weekly chat on ESPN Chicago, Bruce Levine said he is not sure whether or not Shaun Marcum is still on the Cubs’ list.

A number of teams could be interested in Carlos Marmol according to Bruce Levine and he thinks the Cubs would trade Marmol in the right deal for other pitching talent.

Two top Cuban prospects near MLB free agency according to a report from Jesse Sanchez. The Cubs have not been connected to either player but based on recent history do not be surprised to see the Cubs as one of the teams interested in signing either shortstop Aledmys Diaz or outfielder Dariel Alvarez.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"Never let the fear of striking out get in your way of playing the game." – Babe Ruth

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  • Dorasaga

    I understand where Hoyer & Co. came from, and it’s OK to have another stopgap system to reduce risk. Then again, a rotation with an inning-limited Matt Garza and Scott Baker, plus an old and worn-out Scott Feldman, is a guarantee of another losing season. So I’ll turn myself to another side…

    Show us more Winter Games, Tom!

    • Raymond Robert Koenig

      Not sure how Feldman is “old and worn-out” at the age of 29 with just over 700 IPs in the Majors.

      • Dorasaga

        My bad on not knowing his age. He seems to be there forever. But 728 innings of what? He’s been a below average pitcher for being inconsistent too long. I’m not betting a comeback.

        • Tony_Hall

          D – Have you read the fangraphs article on Feldman being a poor mans McCarthy?

          I actually figured you like this guy as a 5th/6th starter with possible upside getting out of Texas. I am betting he does well in April and May in Chicago.

          • Dorasaga

            Mccarthy was a 1st rounder who always got stuff. He learned to pitch both the cutter and sinker with command. I don’t think we ever saw those from Feldman. While the former can easily stand up to pitch ace-games, the latter’s a third-tier, big league innings-eater. If that’s what the Cubs really want, fine. I’m not seeing an offseason “winner,” though. And why’s Chicago a “poor man”??? Really? That’s what we’re all about? Play like Pittsburgh for two straight years?

          • Tony_Hall

            Have you read the fangraphs article comparing
            the 2?

            It is obvious Mccarthy is the better of the 2, but it concludes that you you could get similar production for a lot less money and years.


          • Dorasaga

            Yes, I did, and now, thank you, I do it again. Sometimes, it’s not about the % of pitch-kind, and parts of those fangraphs-proofs, but where the guy mixes his pitches and the final product: The pitcher with a package to execute. We cannot miss this fact, per fangraphs: “he’s been absolutely atrocious at stranding runners the last couple of years.” Not since 2011, but since Feldman was up in the Big. He’s never consistent, and never much command. McCarthy has been deemed an ace, and he finally lived up to it after he mastered the sinker AND the cutter. What does Feldman has to offer on the table?

            We are not Pittsburgh, we don’t need innings eater two-years in a row. I understand that a trade and more signings next year can turn things around quickly. I also understand how all pitchers have risk. But com’on, Chicago Cubs be satisfied with THIS rotation? Are we kidding ourselves? I’ll be happy if Feldman pitches 160 innings and AT LEAST consistent to be around league average (3.9 ERA).

          • cubs1967

            feldman sucks……..he’s not gonna win the cubs a World Series nor be on this team in 2016 when the “plan” is to be good…..

            team theo and ricketts is “brainwashing” fans into this idea of sucking on a low payroll till 2016. it’s silly and unacceptable.

            read the article on Yahoo about the Dodgers new 250 million dollar per year cable agreement; in the article it states 250M per year is more revenue than all other teams except 4 make a year: the 4 that are more:

            Yanks, Bosox, Phils and…………..our beloved Cubs.

            Let me say that again………our beloved Cubs.

            So the Cubs have 250M in revenue; yet are offering a 90-95M payroll this year; which if Sori-Marmol-Garza get moved; which Theo wants to do; payroll will be around the mid-50M range; even if that is Aug 1st…….with a team that makes 250M in revenue!

            SO, all the Theo lovers explain that and why this team is losing on purpose…….for 3 more years.

            That is an insult to Cubs fans intelligence and mine.

            Moves could be been done last year to make this team better like Cespedes and Darvish plus keeping Aramis so they could contend with this year’s FA crop; somewhere alot of money is being spent and my guess it’s to Tommy’s pockets. He owns the team. His choice. But don’t ask for city/state money to fix your playground OR tell fans “this is the right way”. It’s not. Time for fans to realize this and stop defending Theo.

            Time for Cubs fans to have a winner; not Theo’s dream team of rookies in 2016!

          • RynoTiger

            or could it be that you’ve been brainwashed to think that spending money solves all problems?

          • Brp921

            The Cubs are in a position to be able to spend some money on free agents this year and make themselves competitive, and maybe even make themselves the front runners in a weak division, without hindering their rebuilding plans or blocking any rising stars. There will be absolutely no excuse for the Cubs to lose 100 games again this year. Maybe you could have an open mind and allow people to disagree with your “Theo is God attitude” and stop with all the poor attempts at sarcasm.

          • Scott

            Everyone seems to think that the FA market is fairly weak this year. I agree that there should be money to spend if needed, but I am curious to know how they will be able to sign enough FA to become the front runners in the division (where the Champions won 97 games – good for the second best record in baseball and the second place team was a NL Wild Card team that beat the best team in baseball and took the eventual WS Champs to 7 games). All while not signing anyone that will block anyone in the minors down the road.

          • Brp921

            B J Upton, Anibal Sanchez and Edwin Jackson. Thats just three of them. My thoughts were to give them more money for less years. B J Upton could possibly block an outfielder in a couple of years but with a no trade clause it would not be a big problem. Maybe to trade him they would have to eat some money but we’re a big market team and should be able to absorb it. Do you think to win the division next year it will take 97 victories? Maybe. But with a good pitching staff maybe that could be the Cubs. I’m not making predictions but theres been more than one team recently that have caught lightning in a bottle. I’m a proponent of the rebuild, but there is money available to be competitive and not stop the rebuilding plan. I for one will not be happy with losing next year.

          • Scott

            You can have Edvin Jackson. Someone with his stuff should not have been on 6 different teams in 6 years. To me, that says that there are clubhouse issues. And he has a career 4.40 ERA with a 1.44 WHIP. Feldman – 4.81/1.42 – and Baker – 4.15/1.26 – will be less than what he wants combined. BJ Upton has all the talent in the world, but is a high strikeout, low OBP guy that is not that great defensively. His power numbers and speed would be more than welcomed, but he also has been an issue in the clubhouse because he has been known to lack hustle – not worth the money, years and headaches. I like Anibal Sanchez, but after what he did in the playoffs, he might have priced himself out of what some teams are willing to do, or what he could realistically return. If I were to sign any of the three you listed, it would be Sanchez, but only to a point. I am not sure I go more than three years, maybe three with a vesting option.

          • Brp921

            Everyone has opinions and I respect yours. I only mentioned three guys. Take your pick on whom you might think are better fits. My point is that the Cubs can be competitive, maybe frontrunners in a weak division. I’m saying maybe, I didn’t say they would be, and again, I’m not going to be happy with losing 100 games next year.

          • RynoTiger

            I do have an open mind. I’m just challenging someone else’s opinion. Nothing wrong with that. The only poor attempt was yours at trying to understand the commnet.
            I continue the “Theo is God attitude” because those who disagree with the vision and path really never gave Team Theo a chance from the beginning.
            So I’ll continue to believe in Team Theo and challenge opinions when I think they need to be challenged.
            And if you and others don’t like it, then oh life goes on. Hopefully yours does too.

          • calicub

            why in the world would you have wanted Aramis ‘Clubhouse Cancer’ Ramirez back last year? Just b/c he had a career year w/ the Brewers doesn’t mean he would have in Chicago. He hated being in a cubs uni and I hated him being there. I see no way Aramis would have returned in 12

          • Scott

            And if Cespedes and Darvish turned into Fukudome part 2 and Hideki Irabu part 2 in a Cubs uniform, would you have blasted Team Theo for wasting money? You also assume that if Garza and Soriano get moved, they will take on no salary, correct?

            And you should get all of your facts in line before making outlandish claims. The Cubs, according to Forbes, are the 4th most valuable franchise (as of March 2011) with a value of 773M. Only the Yankees (1700M – wow), Red Sox and Dodgers are ahead of the Cubs. They also had a revenue of 258M but their earning were only 23.4M. The Cubs also had teh HIGHEST debt/value ratio in all of baseball at 75%.
            A giant spending spree is what got the Cubs in this mess in the first place. They have a plan in place, made more difficult by the new CBA, that will allow for sustained success over a long period of time. Not the “instant gratification” we all experienced after the 2006 season. The system was depleted, there was no direction and the major league roster was void of talent when Theo took over. He rid the team of clubhouse cancers like Aramis and Zambrano because he recognizes that you cannot have those players destroying team chemistry if you want success. The ball is rolling in the positive direction, but it will take time. The Cubs now have one of the best FO in all of baseball with resources to research and acquire whatever is needed – when needed.
            But just going out and dropping a billion dollars on all the shiny FA is not going to help anything. We would end up right back in the same mess me are just getting out of.

          • Scott

            Another thinig to consider is that, according to reports, the Cubs did place a bid for Darvish. We don’t know if it was $1 or $1 short of the Rangers, but they did explore and try to get Darvish. They just were outbid in the blind process by the Rangers.
            They were, again, according to rumors, in on Cespedes until the end as well.
            I think it is important to remember that, just because a team doesn’t sign a player, it doesn’t mean that they didn’t try to sign that player.

          • DWalker

            I don’t think the cubs could have offered enough to get Aramis back. He flat out said he had no interest in being back, and he wanted on a winning team so he is a moot point in your argument.

            Darvis and Cespedes are interesting to consider. Darvish in last years rotation would have made for actually a very decent rotation, but would it have been good enough? Probably enough to get close to .500, but no way would it have made champions. Add Cespedes in, and yeah, it would have made things interesting. BUT, you still had a gap at 1st for part of the season, no production from 3rd base, and no bull pen. Considering the number of 1 run games the cubs lost, and what having another productive bat could have done to help out in those slumps, yes, the cubs WOULD have been over .500. Yes, they WOULD have been more exciting to watch. They also would have finished in the middle of the pack, had a middle draft pick, and tied up two expensive, quistionable players with out a team to support them. Rizzo wasn’t a lock to succeed at first, Barney isn’t a defensive 2nd base without a big bat. No one expected all star performance from Lahair.

            Its easy to second guess looking back, and
            Darvish may break the mold on Japanese pitchers coming to the US. He may not, it was a major gamble for ANY team to go after him, especially a team not built to win right now.

            OK, I’ll bite, the free agent market is thin, not just in quantitty and quality, but also useful players that are worth tying up in the mega contracts they want. A deal like Cespedes? yeah, I kinda wish they would have jumped on him, but if I sit back and look at it logicly, I can understand why they didn’t.

            All that said, I do have to agree with where is the money going? Certainly, a larger chunk then you realize or are willing to admit IS going into the players side, in foreign pickups and buy outs, as well as investments in new staff and new resources (cameras, computers, traing facilities, computer programs etc) that had been neglected. But still, there should be room for a little more. I don’t care so much about a payroll gap, I would just like to see a little better team to watch.

          • Richard Hood

            He seems to not understand that the Cubs were in on both of those guys.We had the 2nd highest posting fee for Darvish and would have had Cespedes if not for the Length that the A’s went on the contract. Who would have thought that anyone would have went 4 years 35 million on an unkown?

          • Dorasaga

            Cespedes? I wouldn’t. But here, I cannot stand the management put out another AAAA team. I want to see insurance. Now they draft better. Sure, but the product at Wrigley Field won’t show up maybe two, even four or five years now. And what I can’t feel for? Not addressing the biggest problem at hand. They currently have no sustainable pitching. They’ve been taking risky pitchers all the way, two years now, just filling up roster while WAITING the farm to crop. Again, two to five years from now. What for? Nothing were guaranteed for success. Why would I believe another losing season will turn out to be a World Series-caliber team?

          • Theboardrider

            Cespedes exceeded most expectations. I remember the consensus on this site was to sign Soler and stay away from Cespedes, and that’s what we did.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Feldman and Volstad’s stats are very close.

          • Tony_Hall

            I am not saying Feldman is anything more than a 5th starter (4th starter at best), but I had him on my list to sign. Baker as well. I though had Feldman as my 3rd starter to add, and still think they are looking for one more. I don’t believe he will be starting for the Cubs in July unless he is pitching well and could either be traded or sent to the bullpen.

            If they still sign a McCarthy, Liriano, Villanueva, etc, then this rotation will be good enough to compete in the NL Central. It will also allow them not to rush Baker and even to give Garza some more time if needed to start the year.

    • calicub

      Where did you see Garza and Baker are on an inning limit? I know they may not start the year b/c of injury but i didn’t know they were both limited…

      • Dorasaga

        It’s not a fact, but my opinion, or say educated guess, after seeing what Hoyer had done in San Diego, and last year with Garza. They’ve been protective when it comes to pitcher “mileage.”

        • calicub

          i agree, but when it comes down too it, if either Baker or Garza is healthy and able, i see no reason they wouldn’t let them go 200+ innings.

          • Dorasaga

            I’m actually optimistic for Baker, but I don’t know about Garza. Never having any injury, Garza just started his learning experience. I’ll respect him if he returns to be a stud, pitches 600 innings for the next three years.

        • paulcatanese

          What may be a fact is I believe Garza missed time in both years with the Cubs.
          That being the case, I agree that Garza should be monitered with his innings.

  • RynoTiger

    I just saw Paul Sullivan’s tweet about Vitters being dropped from his winter ball team. Can he now be picked up by another team?
    I saw that John Lannan of the Nationals may be non-tendered. Could be another possibility for SP depth.

    • DWalker

      That does not speak well for Vitters, and I am afraid his trade value is hitting rock bottom. I guess at this point, we are getting down to REALLY hoping stewart is better.

      • J Daniel

        They should have never brought him up, he was not ready. Most on here would disagree with that … play the young guys … but CAN’T play them if they ARE NOT READY!

    • calicub

      I believe the Mets just NT’d Mike Pelfrey, that might be another option. 28 y/o former first rounder, seems to fit the bill

  • Cubs4ever

    Ryan Madson gets a 1 year deal for 3.5 mil plus incentives. I get that he is a relief pitcher but he has a ton more upside and value than Feldman.

    • Guest

      And the Wrigley re-hab center is open again for 2013

      • paulcatanese

        I don’t know how this got posted under you’re name, I had posted it. I agree if you did, just didn’t want you to take the
        heat for it if you didn’t.

    • calicub

      Madson also didn’t ptch last year..

      • Cubs4ever

        Either did Feldman. Lol

        • calicub

          Yeah he did. he started 21 games played in 29…

          • Cubs4ever

            You must not have gotten my attempt at humor. He played but he didn’t pitch. You kind of put that one on a tee for me. Honestly, Feldman will not bring back any decent prospects at the trade deadline. If he wins 5 games at the all star break with a 4.20 ERA what would the return be? A closer like Madson could bring back a top prospect at half the cost.

          • calicub

            Lol fair enough but its hard to ‘get’ sarcasm via the internet. Im not sayng Feldman is going to be a stud, nor am I saying he is going to be flipped for top prospects at the deadline. Sure, if he studs out in the first half they might flip him, but i think the purpose of this signing was to get a warm body in the rotation who could possibly be the 5th starter the whole year through if they are not able to sign one more guy to the rotation. Look at him as an upgrade to Germano. If they do sign another SP, and it seems likey I see Feldman as the longman/backup SP for injuries or under performance by Wood or if Wood starts the year in AAA.

            Bottom line, the options for the back end this year are much more pleasing than they were last year

  • paulcatanese

    Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa on the HOF ballot, a joke right?
    This is a total waste of time to even consider any of them.

    • Dorasaga

      A past-time for baseball writers to waste.


      • paulcatanese

        On the other side of the coin, apparantly you spend a great deal of time in the Far East.

        One of my favorite programs features Andrew Zimern

        on a travel show featuring very odd food from the places he visits.

        A short while ago he did a program from China, Bejieng, that featured Donkey meat and is quite the favorite there. Watched and couldn’t comprehend that as a meal have you tried that?
        They even have Donkey farms to supply.

        • Dorasaga

          Never heard of donkey meat. That’s amusing. But I’m not surprised Chinese eat whatever. Monkey brain and bear palm, among other expensive meats.

    • Brp921

      I agree 100%. Cheaters don”t belong in the HOF.

  • calicub

    If the Cubs plan on having ten starters going into spring, they’re very close with what they have on the 40-man. They have (8) dedicated starters on the list:

    1 Garza
    2 Shark
    3 Baker
    4 Feldman (Spot #41)
    5 Wood
    6 Vizciano (AAA)
    7 Rusin (AAA)
    8 Raley (AAA)

    And depending on how and where they are used, there is also:
    Casey Coleman (designated)
    Michael Bowden
    Alberto Cabrera(AAA?)
    Trey McNutt (AAA? plus his recent ‘success’ as a reliever may preclude him from this list)
    Whitenack (AAA?)

    Doesn’t that list just feel better than what the Cubs had last season to start out with? Rodrigo Lopez, Randy Wells, etc. Even with Dempster and Maholm in there. I expect the Cubs to make some more moves to pick up Pitching, but for some reason I don’t see it happening until late winter…

    As for Keppinger, I wouldn’t expect him to preform anywhere near where he did this year. Jeff is an 8 yr vet starting with the Mets back in ’04. In those years, Jeff has averaged .288/.337/.396, not bad for a guy with no real power. The odd thing is that only twice has he hit for a higher average than his career line, once in ’07 and again in ’12 batting.332 and .325 respectively. Without these two career years, his avg. dips closer to around the low .270’s/.320’s/.380’s range.

    Only four times in the past 8 years has he played in more than 100 games; 121, 107, 137 and 115.
    His WAR of 2.4 in 2012 is nearly double his career avg. and, aside from his 07 campaign which was a small sample size, has never had another WAR above .6 and in four of his years in the ML he has had negative WAR including 2011 in which he was traded at the deadline to the offensively struggling Giants, where he saw his avg drop from .307 with Houston to .255 with the Giants, from a 0.3 WAR to a -0.8, ouch!

    And his fielding at 3B leaves a lot to be desired. With that being said, if the cubs could get him on a similar deal to what he got last year with the Rays ($1.525MM) i would pull the trigger. He has experience at 1B, 2B, SS, 3B, LF, and RF. Its been a while the cubs have had a super-sub who can actually hit… If he puts up numbers anywhere near the .288 level over the course of the year, I’d be happy. The defense wouldn’t be as neat as Stewart, but at least with Keppinger there is more of a consistent track record. I wouldn’t mind both either though as he could be moved anywhere in the field ala DeRosa if Stewart proves to be healthy.

  • calicub

    well you can take Casey Coleman off that list