Cubs Off-Season Kicks into Gear

The Cubs off-season picked up a little steam when news surfaced that the team had a low-level, informal discussion with Ryan Dempster about a possible return to the North Side of Chicago. The Cubs down played the discussion. Dempster is a free agent and is expected to sign a multi-year contract.

The Cubs announced Thursday the hiring of Anthony Iapoce as a special assistant to the GM for player development. Iopace spent the last three seasons as the minor league hitting coordinator for the Toronto Blue Jays. Anthony Iapoce will serve as the Cubs’ minor league hitting coordinator and contribute to other projects within the organization.

The Cubs announced Thursday that pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on February 9 with the first on field workout scheduled for February 10.

Ryan Dempster
The unexpected news surfaced Thursday that the Cubs had a low-level, informal discussion with Ryan Dempster about a possible return. Dempster was finally dealt to Texas at the deadline after turning down a trade to Atlanta. The messy trade deadline saga with Dempster alienated some of the fan base and appeared to irritate the front office at the time.

Jed Hoyer said there are no hard feelings between the team and Dempster over what went down in July that would prevent the Cubs from bringing him back. Hoyer added there is mutual respect on both sides.

After the initial report surfaced from Carrie Muskat, the report was confirmed but it appears that it was a preliminary discussion between the team and Dempster.

Pitching, Pitching and More Pitching
The Cubs are looking to add at least two starting pitchers this off-season. According to a report from the Tribune, the Cubs “have spoken with representatives of several potential free agents, including Ryan Dempster, though it’s likely Dempster will be seeking a longer term deal that the Cubs are willing to touch.”

According to the Tribune, the Cubs “will have to convince any pitcher it’s in his best interest to come to a team in a rebuilding mode” unless the Cubs pull off a trade for a pitcher, like the Angels’ Dan Haren. Hoyer refused to discuss Haren with the Tribune but said “a one-year rental is a possibility for the Cubs.”

The Cubs could look at signing a pitcher like Brandon McCarthy to a one-year contract.

News and Notes
The Cubs confirmed that Javier Baez has a non-displaced fracture of the tip of his right thumb. Baez is expected to be ready to go when Spring Training begins. The injury occurred off the field in some sort of celebratory high-five according to multiple reports. Baez tried to play through the injury before leaving last Saturday’s game in the sixth inning.

According to a report from AZ Central, a proposed deal that would have allowed Arizona State University to share a new Chicago Cubs stadium in Mesa is dead. The report indicated ASU broke off talks with the Cubs.

Matt Garza remains on schedule to have another scan on his elbow this month according to a report from the Sun-Times. If all goes well, Garza is expected to begin a throwing program, The Cubs are still optimistic he will be at full strength when Spring Training begins on February 10.

According to a report from Bruce Levine, Dan Plesac will interview for the Cubs’ broadcast job next week. Eric Karros is also expected to receive an interview for the job to replace Bob Brenly in the Cubs’ booth.

Nick Struck made adjustments to his delivery during the season and he’s refining them in the AFL according to a report from the Tribune.

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  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Jon Heyman: Cubs and Red Sox among teams in on Dan Haren trade talks. north siders a new entry./cbsprt.co/ViNUl6

  • daverj

    If Haren could be obtained for one of our lesser C level prospects (no one in our Top 20), then I’d pull the trigger. He could return an A level prospect come July. If a quality prospect was required, then I’d pass.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    Cubs claimed RHP Zach Putnam off waivers from Rockies. Putnam is 19-12 w/ 26 SV, 3.90 ERA, 270 K & 94 BB over 295.2 IP in 171 MiLB games.

    • paulcatanese

      Neil, on paper he (Putnam) looks good. Could be OK.

      • Aaron

        Could be ok? Sure….just like “politicians COULD BE decent human beings and not corrupt”….in either case, it’s highly unlikely. LOL…just giving you a hard time

        Putnam throws a 92-93 mph fastball, and in the past, supposedly hit 96 mph. There are two very different scouting reports on him though, as that one says 92-93 mph that I am referencing above, and says he has a “high impact arm”, while the other one makes it sound like he’s just average. Here they are:

        http://cleveland.cbslocal.com/2011/09/13/indians-promote-pitcher-zach-putnam-from-aaa-columbus/

        http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/events/draft/y2008/reports_popup.jsp?popup=yes&content=putnam

        The proof is in the pudding with him though…295 IP, 305 hits.

        That’s an awful lot of hits given up over the course of his career.

        However, if signing him was with the intent of just letting Camp walk, then it’s a good move. The thing is, the Cubs have a lot of very decent young arms already in the pen, or at the higher levels of the minors, such as:

        Dolis
        Cabrera (being converted to starter)
        Beliveau
        Russell
        L. Castillo (he was horrible last year, but has a live arm)
        Gutierrez (just claimed as well)
        Batista
        Rhoderick
        Zych

        This move reeks of trading pieces to get Haren. We saw the same thing play out last offseason

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          Thanks for the scouting reports Aaron.

          • Aaron

            no problem….just don’t know which one I trust more. One makes him sound like he has potential, while the other makes it seem like he’s just an average arm. That’s why I noted that his hits/9 IP seem pretty high to me (9.1 vs 8.2 K/9 IP)….that’s a pretty dangerous recipe for a reliever if you ask me

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        I agree Paul.

  • paulcatanese

    I really hope the Cubs do not re-visit Dempster. IMO that would be a direct contradiction with trading him away. Why bring him back? He is older and would seek an increase and multi year
    contract.
    The Cubs do not need an inning eater with his qualifications, I don’t see the wisdom behind it. It dosent fit in with going forward
    under Epsteins theories.
    All that would be achomplished would be to pacify the fan base, but not an advancement to the playoffs. I dont think the move is what the fans are being told to believe about patience, and I doubt whether or not he would win with the Cubs.
    Let him go somewhere else.

    • Tony_Hall

      Actually, Paul if he would accept a 1 or 2 year deal, and not ask for a NTC, he would be exactly what they are looking to add to the rotation. Not saying he is my first picks, but I know have to add him to the list of pitchers that make sense under the right deal.

      • paulcatanese

        Thats true, but the right deal would mean a big dip dollar wise to make sense Tony. If he would accept what you say, then that would have been a super deal by Epstein in the first place, planning to bring him back at a lower cost.

        • Tony_Hall

          Don’t be surprised if we don’t sign a SP, at a higher salary, but at 1 or 2 years. We can overpay on the short term, but not in years.

  • Tony_Hall

    I have heard an interesting trade “rumor” for Haren.

    Marmol for Haren

    The Cubs get Haren, but offset some of his pay with Marmols.

    Now this may require another player added in or even some cash, but it would be an interesting trade.

    • Aaron

      Tony,

      I like that. Was that your idea? LOL….

      No, but in all seriousness, I mentioned that a week or so ago, as the Angels already had rumored interest. I also believe Josh Johnson makes a lot of sense as well…perhaps even more sense, as the Cubs could get even more in return for Johnson (provided he’s healthy) next year at the deadline. Haren’s a few years older, and doesn’t throw as hard as Johnson, so, who knows…

      • Tony_Hall

        No, just something I saw on the ever reliable twitter.

        Maybe you put it there :)

        I am sure the activity on Haren today is pretty strong and they are weighing different type of offers. Either way, they will take whatever, as it saves them $3.5M in the buyout and if they fill a need they should be even happier.

        • RynoTiger

          so then I guess the question that would remain is: who is the Cubs closer if Marmol is traded? Please don’t say Dolis or Russell.
          Would then the Cubs pick up a FA closer?

          • Tony_Hall

            The best plan to me would be to sign a FA you can buy lower than normal closer money that needs an opportunity to close, and give him a chance to close. If they make it, you will have increased their value.

          • Tony_Hall

            We may find out…looks like it may have happened.

          • Tom U

            While not necessarily endorsing him, the coaching staff has been reported liking the “mound presence” of Jaye Chapman.

  • Tom U

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  • Tom U

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  • Tom U

    RHP Michael Bowden is starting for Aguilas Cibaenas in the DWL tonight.

  • Tony_Hall

    I think Haren could be a nice pick up and to have him on a 1 year deal, even at $15M, could be better than trying to outbid other teams for FA looking for 3-4 year deals, and trying to overpay on a 2-3 year deal.

    If we ended up with McCarthy as well, we would be looking much better with Garza, Samardzija, Haren, McCarthy, T Wood and Vizcaino coming up mid-season to replace whoever is traded.

  • gary3411

    McCarthy is the guy I’m really looking for the Cubs to sign. He can very good and is young enough that if he enjoys his time and regains form in the first half, it is possible for a multi-year extension at some point making him a big part of our future rotation. He is a championship type 3/4 when healthy and should age well with his stuff.