Weekend Update … News, Notes and Cubs Rumors

Major League Baseball will be front and center with the announcements of the AL and NL Rookie of the Year (Monday), AL and NL Manager of the Year (Tuesday), AL and NL Cy Young (Wednesday) and AL and NL Most Valuable Player (Thursday) awards this week. And while baseball is focused on awards week, the Cubs will continue working on the roster.

The deadline for clubs to file reserve lists both at the Major League and minor league level is looming (November 20) and the Cubs have decisions to make. The 40-man roster currently has four open spots (36 players) and plenty holes to fill, plus players to protect from the Rule 5 Draft (December 6).

In case you’ve missed it, the Los Angeles Dodgers are buying up as many players as they can get their hands on. The Dodgers outbid the rest of baseball for the right to negotiate a contract with Korean lefty Hyun-jin Ryu. The Dodgers bid more than $25.7 million, nearly $6 million more than the unnamed team that reportedly turned in a $20 million sealed bid. The new Dodgers ownership has apparently dusted off George Steinbrenner’s old manual of how to build a team.

The rumors continue to heat up with the Winter Meetings three weeks away …

Rumors, Rumors and More Rumors
The Cubs reportedly tried to lay a lot of groundwork for the off-season during the recently completed GM Meetings. The Cubs’ front office had multiple conversations with agents and teams about acquiring players that will make them more competitive next season.

The Cubs are trying to acquire players, mainly pitchers, that will lead to more wins at the big league level next season. The Cubs feel if they can add a couple of starters to the likes of Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza and Travis Wood they will be more competitive in the National League and play closer to the way they did prior to the trade deadline than in August and September.

According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs are not trying to acquire players in order to just flip them for younger talent and prospects.

The Cubs are interested in trading for Lonnie Chisenhall and according to Levine, they have checked in with the Indians recently on his availability. The Cubs are looking for a short-term solution at third base and view Luis Valbuena as more of a utility infielder than a starter. Both Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein have stated they feel good about the depth at third base in the system (Josh Vitters, Junior Lake, Christian Villanueva, Jeimer Candelario and Javier Baez) but there is a big hole at third base for next year. The Cubs have until November 30 to make up their mind on Ian Stewart and whether or not they will tender him a contract for next season.

The Cubs have checked in with the agents for nearly all of the free agent starters on the market, including Scott Feldman according to Bruce Levine. Fangraphs recently labeled Feldman “The Poor Man’s Brandon McCarthy”. Feldman turns 30 in February and posted a 6-11 record in 29 games, 21 starts, for the Rangers last season with a 5.09 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP.

As for Brandon McCarthy, the Cubs and White Sox, along with several other teams, have spoken with McCarthy’s agent, Craig Landis. There is a lot of interest in McCarthy throughout the league after he was medically cleared to pitch. McCarthy started 18 games for Oakland last season.

Another pitcher the Cubs could be interested in is Jon Garland. Levine spoke with Garland’s agent during the GM Meetings and he told Levine that Garland is healthy and ready to pitch. Garland is “the type of pitcher” the Cubs are looking to sign this off-season according to Levine. Garland is represented by Craig Landis, the same agent as Ryan Dempster and Brandon McCarthy. Garland also has a history with Jed HoyerGarland pitched for the Padres in 2010.

The Cubs are focused on re-signing Shawn Camp and he could end up being a closer option next season if they find a deal for Carlos Marmol. The Cubs are still shopping Marmol and could end up trying internal options for the closer’s job next year.

News, Notes and Other Rumors
Baseball lost one of the greats in the game on Thursday when Lee MacPhail passed away at the age of 95. Lee MacPhail was the father of Cubs’ former GM Andy MacPhail and the oldest living Hall of Famer.

Bruce Levine reported during Talkin’ Baseball on Saturday morning that the announcement of the Cubs’ new color analyst could be made during the coming week. Levine thinks Dan Plesac and Eric Karros on the two finalists with Plesac the favorite to land the job.

The Cubs are reportedly looking to add a veteran catcher this off-season and one possible option is no longer available. David Ross signed a two-year, $6.2 million deal with the Red Sox. Ross had not been linked to the Cubs but his unexpected signing with Boston could have an effect on what options the Cubs might have for a back-up backstop.

Baseball Prospectus debated who is the top Cubs’ prospect the day after BP’s list of the Cubs top prospects hit the world wide web.

David Kaplan asked how much would the naming rights to Wrigley Field be worth.

Bruce Levine thinks the White Sox will re-sign Kevin Youkilis.

And … a tip of the cap goes out to all Veterans and those who continue to serve our country every day.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"The man says 'play ball' not 'work ball,' you know." - Willie Stargell
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  • Ripsnorter1

    So the Cubs are interested in Scott Feldman. Hmmm….let’s see….6-11 for the team that was #1 in all of MLB for runs scored. 5.09 ERA for a team with a great bullpen, too. When it comes to fielding, (and thus saving runs for the pitcher) Texas is one of the best at #4 in all of MLB. One should expect regression for anyone leaving paradise for the Cubs.

    Feldman had 21 starts, of which only 6 were quality starts. Gave up more hits (139) than innings pitched (123). Doesn’t walk too many (32) but fans about 7 per 9 IP.

    Went 17-11 with 4.08 in 2009. Has had difficulty keeping his ERA under 5.00 in almost every other year.

    Why would we want this guy? Unless we are trying to accumulate more Germanos and more Berkens and more Volstads, I don’t see the point.

    • SuzyS

      Well said, I was going to make exactly the same points.
      Blahhhhhhhh!!!

    • Tony_Hall

      The Cubs are interested in every SP that is on the FA market. Don’t read too much into it, as in Feldman’s case, he would be asked to go to the bullpen and be the swing guy, not be one of our rotation guys.

    • calicub

      Texas is a hitters park! All the defense in the world cant stop a ball from going over the fence. Just look @ how dempsters era spiked between Wrigley and Arlington. I’m not saying this guy is my choice, but i think an improvement in numbers from a switch in the two parks wouldnt be an outrageous concept

      • Tom U

        Here’s am article about Logan Watkins’ big day yesterday:

        http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20121110&content_id=40236716&vkey=news_chc&c_id=chc

      • Ripsnorter1

        I think it is an outrageous concept in this way: Feldman gave up a mere 14 HRs in 123 IP. That’s about 1.1 HR per 9 IP, which isn’t too bad. I do not think he’d be giving up any less in Wrigley, or the NL.

        • Ripsnorter1

          Let’s look at Dempster’s Texas numbers for a momento….

          His WHIP at Chicago in 2012: 1.038
          His WHIP in Texas in 2012: 1.435.

          He just lost his control once he moved to Texas. He walked too many. He gave up more HRs (10 in 69 IP) than he did in Chicago (9 in 104). He went back to being the same Dempster we’ve had the past 4 years–he lost his control and was up in the zone. And of course, they hit him then.

    • Tony_Hall
      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Tony, thanks for re-posting. I hope you saw I linked to the fangraphs article in my report.

        • Tony_Hall

          Sorry, didn’t read it before and ran across it and remembered Rip wondering why Feldman.

          Thought the phrase sounded familiar…

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            No worries …

  • Ripsnorter1

    The FA market is REALLY GETTING EXPENSIVE this year.

    David Ross…36 yrs old in March…lifetime backup catcher…..$6.2 million for 2 yrs in Boston. Played in only 62 games in 2012. That’s including PH and sub appearances in 15 games, folks. He only started 47 games.

    I admit…he’s a good sub. But he’s also expensive.

    • Tony_Hall

      I think I have been saying that for awhile. The supply of talent is much lower due to so many teams locking up their young talent and/or trading their young talent to teams that lock them up. Players that hit FA, are the ones that made it 6-7 years in the league with no team willing to give them long term security or a player who is willing to roll the dice on getting injured. Obviously some players out there are good, but just not like it use to be. The other thing is that most all of players are in their 30′s. Not many of the 27,28,29 years olds ever hit the FA market anymore, as if they were good enough to make the majors at 20,21,22, they are usually given a contract that keeps them locked up until they are 30+.

      Scouting, drafting well, and developing your own players has never been more important than today. Just think where our future would be with the extremely small front office of the JH era.

      • SuzyS

        Tony, You bring up a good point….”Scouting, drafting well, and DEVELOPING your own players….”
        Regardless of who is at the top, (currently Theo), the Cubs HAD to revamp the entire organization to bring it up to the times. We’ve had a dismal track record under the old regimes of developing talent.
        It will be a few years before we can really judge the new organization…but it APPEARS that the organizational structures being put in place are going in the right direction.
        There’s a reason the Cardinals are competitive year after year…and we haven’t been. I really hope we are watching the generational solution develop before our eyes.
        It would be interesting to see posts from someone like me…10 years from now.

        • Ripsnorter1

          The Cardinals are a small market team that signs FAs.

          • RynoTiger

            The Cards sign some FAs..to compliment the talent they do a great job of developing. Which is what the Cubs need to do.

            The Cardinals WERE a small market team at one point but they’re a large market team now.

            What they spend doesn’t indicate small market.

            http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/salaries

    • Dnuge

      Boston has overpaid for Ortiz and now Ross !

      • Ripsnorter1

        Next, they’ll be overpaying for Germano!

        • Tony_Hall

          Germano already signed with the Blue Jays

          • Ripsnorter1

            What were they thinking?

          • Tony_Hall

            Minor league contract.

  • Tony_Hall

    Looking at the 40 man roster sitting at 36. With needing to protect guys from the Rule V, AND wanting to add at least 2 SP’s to the rotation, and I expect signing 3 pitchers total and needing to leave a roster spot to be able to participate in the Rule V draft, doesn’t leave the room to protect guys right now.

    So, even if we protect 3 or 4 of Watkins, Villanueva, Struck, McNutt, Rhee, Batista, Whitenack, etc, we will be leaving some players exposed we really don’t want to lose and then hoping they don’t get picked. It has almost made it necessary to not sign free agents until after the Rule V, so that you can protect as many players as possible and release as few of players as possible until after you see who you lose.

    With that said, we will obviously be releasing some more players and hoping to pass them through waivers to go to Iowa or in some cases lower.

    So who can be released.

    Batters

    13 spots on the 25 man roster

    C – Castillo, Clevenger

    IF – Rizzo, Barney, Castro, Stewart, Valbuena, OPEN

    OF – Soriano, DeJesus, Campana, Sappelt, Lahair

    Even if we release Stewart and pick up someone else those spots are a given. And someone will be the utility guy on the 25 man roster.

    Also, these spots are a given (6)

    #3 Catcher

    Szczur, Soler, BJAX, Lake, Vitters

    So if they add an OF, expect Campana or Lahair to be released from the 40 man.

    If we add a 3B expect Stewart to be released and/or for Valbuena to move into the OPEN utility man spot.

    We will add a #3 catcher on the 40 man roster.

    Figure Watkins and Villaneuva to be added to round out the batters.

    Pitchers

    12 spots on the 25 man roster.

    SP – Garza, Samardzija, OPEN, OPEN, Wood

    RP – Marmol, Russell, Chapman, Belivaeu, Bowden, Chapman, Dolis

    SP – Cabrera, Raley, Rusin, Brigham

    LH – Concepcion,

    RH – Castillo, Coleman, Gutierrez, Putnam

    Plus the need to protect 2 or 3 of Struck, McNutt, Rhee, Batista, Whitenack…maybe more.

    So, my question is why is Coleman on the 40 man roster?

    If they released Concepcion, would anyone pick him up with $3M left on his contract?

    Would Castillo pass through waivers, when he is AA at the highest?

    Would they release Rusin and Raley and hope they pass through waivers?

    I expect to see a trade before November 20th, that fills spots that have to be filled (OF spot, utility spot, SP spots), to open up more spots on the 40 man. Let’s face it Marmol for Haren was smart for many reasons, but would have filled one of the SP slots in exchange for a bullpen slot that may not be filled or wouldn’t need to be until after the Rule V draft.

    There are some roster decisions that need to be made and made soon on players like Lahair, Campana, Coleman, Castillo, Concepcion, Raley, Rusin in order to not lose a young arm that could be stashed in a bullpen like we did with Castillo.

    • SuzyS

      Can they release Concepcion? He hasn’t been with the Cubs a full year. What’s the rule?

      • Tony_Hall

        Not sure how that works with an international signing…but would like to know, as right now I would have a hard time believing that anyone would claim him for a $3M commitment. This could be a great time to clear him off the 40 man roster, if they can.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        Suzy, unless something has changed that I am unaware of Concepcion would have to be placed on waivers just like any other player in order to remove him from the 40-man roster

        • Tony_Hall

          I know it was in his contract that it be a major league deal, and therefore required him to go on the 40 man roster.

          Is there any reason they can’t do this, except for risk of someone claiming him on waivers?

  • SuzyS

    Neil,

    Thanks for linking the BP debate on the Cubs’ top prospect.
    It was a thoroughly enjoyable read!

  • paulcatanese

    Someone enlighten me on this. Previous rumors have led me to believe that the Cubs may resign Dempster, and even Johnson or Baker.
    To me, thats counter productive with the plans they have had with going forward. What would be achomplished with bringing them back?
    They already lost over 100 games with getting rid of these players,
    but to bring them back is contradictive to the original plan, why bring them back to win a few more?

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

      If Dempster returns on a contract that doesn’t include a no-trade clause, the Cubs can trade him again at the deadline if they’re not in contention. They do need starting pitching.

      • paulcatanese

        That would be the key, without a no-trade contract,
        and of course less money.
        I really dont think he would get a better deal somewhere else.

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

          The Cubs will probably have to overpay any free agent they sign.

          • Tony_Hall

            Very rarely can you ever say that a FA was NOT over paid. The reason you signed them is because no one else was willing to pay as much.

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

            To come to a team that’s not expected to contend and accept a contract without a no-trade clause, the Cubs will have offer more money than other teams.

          • Tony_Hall

            Wouldn’t that be exactly what I said “no one else was willing to pay as much”?

            Someone who is needing a makeup year, who may not get an opportunity with a “contender” may like going to the Cubs, where they can get an opportunity, and then know if they perform well can get traded to a team that is in the playoff hunt.

            Nothing is one size fits all.

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

            It’s not quite that simple.

          • Tony_Hall

            How often have you heard of a player taking the “lesser” contract offer?

            It happens, but usually only if the player is signing back with the same team (original team matches the best offer or almost does) or a player signs with a team to try and win a World Series that never has, or a player signs to be close to home. Other than that, high offer, usually in total value over AAV, Wins.

            The Cubs are not going to sign the top FA’s, but guys like McCarthy, Liriano, Marcum, etc, who need to regain value. They will also like the idea of being traded to a contender at the trade deadline, as it assures them of getting more national attention and increasing their value (Anibal Sanchez this year) if they are able to succeed.

            Bottom line, of course the Cubs will have to offer more money, that is how FA works, almost always, high bidder wins.

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

            I’m just saying that the Cubs will have to offer more money to any free agent that they sign than that free agent’s 2nd choice. To overcome the facts that the Cubs might not contend in 2012 and that free agents won’t be getting contracts with no-trade clauses from the Cubs. As for players taking the “lesser” offer, I’ve seen it happen.

          • Tony_Hall

            You are saying the same thing I am, the Cubs will pay more to any FA they sign, and it has happened, that a player has accepted a “lesser” offer for various reasons….

            One case where they can pay the same or less. Team A has an injury concern or two, wants to sign a guy as insurance. Offers rotation spot until player x comes back, then bullpen. The Cubs will be offering a rotation spot guaranteed. Opportunity is a reason the Cubs could get a FA pitcher for the same or less money.

    • Tony_Hall

      They took a short term asset (Dempster, Maholm, Johnson, Baker, Soto) and traded them for equal (or about equal) value (we could argue value all day long), that were long term assets (and younger). Now they are going to sign 2 SP’s, etc, whether it is Dempster or Guthrie or anyone else, it really doesn’t matter if they played for the Cubs last year, all that matters is the contract is a good value and can be traded, once again, turning a short term asset into a long term asset.

      This is exactly the plan they have right now when it comes to FA acquisitions and anyone on the roster that is near the end of their control years.

      • paulcatanese

        Thank you Tony.

  • Vivid_Reality

    Vogel-Buick, wow, what a horribly awesome nickname.

  • Ripsnorter1

    I like Jon Garland if he can stay on the field.