Theo Epstein met with the beat writers prior to Tuesday’s game in Milwaukee and discussed multiple topics in length, including Dale Sveum and his coaching staff.
From all indications, Dale Sveum’s job for next season appears to be safe. Dale Sveum is under contract for one more year and has an option for 2015. Epstein said on Tuesday that all aspects of the organization, including Sveum, will be evaluated at the end of the season. Epstein said the front office will also take a look at the decisions they made during the year.
According to multiple reports, Sveum is not on the hot seat and the job he has done will not be judged on wins and losses. Epstein added that Sveum has done a “remarkable” job of keeping the clubhouse together over the last two seasons. Epstein did not say that Sveum would be back next year but there are “no alarm bells to ring.”
Theo Epstein addressed the team’s plans for Javier Baez on Tuesday. Epstein confirmed that Baez will see playing time at both second and third base during the Arizona Fall League.
Javier Baez is ticketed to begin next season at the Triple-A level and the team will leave him at shortstop, at least to start out next year. As has been reported, Baez has the ability to stick at short and be successful at the position at the Major League level.
Epstein indicated on Tuesday, “If we’re fortunate to get to that point in time where Baez is pounding on that door and Castro is healthy, then we will look to move Baez around so he can perform at other positions.” Epstein thinks Baez has “tremendous baseball instincts” and can handle being moved to another position in the field.
Theo Epstein took responsibility for the “bullpen that didn’t perform well” at the beginning of the season and pointed out that he feels the pen has shown steady improvement this year.
Epstein did not rule out bringing back free-agent-to-be Kevin Gregg to close out games next season but also indicated that Pedro Strop and Justin Grimm could be options for the ninth inning.
Theo Epstein reiterated on Tuesday that the Cubs are “unlikely to make big splashes in the big-money free-agent market this winter.” Epstein explained that the team is “not going to have the ability to add like multiple impact pieces in free agency.”
Epstein indicated the Cubs are “going to have to take a multi-dimensional approach to changing things.”
The Sun-Times reported that the Cubs are preparing for another losing season in 2014 and pointed to the team not being able to add the necessary revenue from the stalled Wrigley Restoration project as one of the main reasons. Theo Epstein admitted as much on MLB Network Radio several weeks back. The Ricketts family is not willing to move forward with the restoration project until they are sure the rooftop club owners will not pursue legal action to protect their views of Wrigley Field.
Josh Vitters’ days as an everyday third baseman appear to be over, at least for now. According to reports, the Cubs have scraped the idea of Vitters’ playing third base and he will be moved to left field. Theo Epstein confirmed on Tuesday that Josh Vitters will not play ball this winter. The Cubs would like to see Vitters report to Spring Training “ready to re-establish himself and force himself into the mix” as one of the Cubs’ right handed hitting outfielders.
It appears that Brett Jackson will also take the winter off while trying to recover from the various injuries that derailed his season. Theo Epstein said on Tuesday that Jackson may follow the same program as Josh Vitters this off-season.
News and Notes
According to multiple reports, Albert Almora’s rehab from a groin injury that cut his season short is going well. Almora is healthy and on track to be ready for the start Arizona Fall League.
Jeff Samardzija and David Bell downplayed their discussion in the dugout on Tuesday night.
Jorge Soler is back to “doing baseball activities” and preparing for the AFL according to a report from Carrie Muskat. Soler is recovering from a stress fracture of his left tibia.
Dale Sveum discussed Starlin Castro’s improved defense with ESPN Chicago.
The Cubs do not see Anthony Rizzo as an “all or nothing” hitter and they feel he will hit for a respectable average.