Pitching Remains at the Top of the Cubs List

Weekend Update

The next seven days should be very interesting throughout the game. The Hall of Fame announcement will be made on Wednesday (Jan. 8) and it appears four players will join the trio of managers in Cooperstown this summer. Greg Maddux is still on 100 percent of the ballots that have been made public, but he will not be the first unanimous selection into the hall. A couple of the BBWAA writers are not expected to vote for him. As it currently stands, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, Frank Thomas and Craig Biggio are on their way to enshrinement.

Also this week, the arbitrator’s decision on how many games Alex Rodriguez will be suspended for next season could be announced as early as Friday. And the number of games Rodriguez misses will impact the Yankees’ payroll for next season which will in turn affect their negotiations with Masahiro Tanaka.

According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs are still looking to add one or two more pitchers to the roster before Spring Training. The Cubs are thought to be interested in re-signing Scott Baker or inking Jason Hammel to a contract. Clayton Richard is thought to be on the Cubs’ radar but as a reliever and not as a starter, the same as Jonathan Sanchez. The Cubs have also scouted Joel Pineiro in winter ball. Levine did say if the Cubs add a pitcher it would likely be an “injury rehab guy.”

Masahiro Tanaka

The Masahiro Tanaka Sweepstakes will really begin on Monday according to Andrew Marchand. Teams like the Cubs, Dodgers and Rangers “could go dollar-for-dollar” with the Yankees for Masahiro Tanaka according to Marchand and the Diamondbacks could be players too. But the team he says that could really challenge the Yankees for Tanaka is the Seattle Mariners. Marchand pointed out that Seattle could really use Tanaka even with Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma already in their rotation.

Buster Olney made the case for why he thinks the Astros should go all out for Masahiro Tanaka. And the reasons Olney gives for Houston needing to land him are similar to why many think the Cubs will be involved in the process until the end. The Astros have prospects on the way to the big leagues, plus Mark Appel and very likely Carlos Rodon, along with Tanaka would make for a very good rotation, at least on paper, in a couple of years. As with the Cubs, Houston would have to sell him on leading a young team and staff as well as overpay him for his services.

Olney pointed out that no one knows what Masahiro Tanaka is looking for in free agency. Rumors have suggested Tanaka would like to pitch on the West Coast and some think he would welcome pitching in the same rotation as Iwakuma again. And for every report that says Tanaka would like to pitch on the West Coast and would not mind be reunited with Iwakuma, there are reports that say the exact opposite. Olney also explained no one knows if he is looking for the best contract or what will motivate him to sign with a certain team.

The field of teams interested in Tanaka should drop to five or six next week when teams begin discussing what it would take to sign Masahiro Tanaka with Casey Close. Once the dust clears, the Yankees, Cubs, Dodgers, Mariners, Angels and the Diamondbacks should be the teams Casey Close remains in constant contact with over the next three weeks.

Jim Hendry

Former Cubs’ General Manager, Jim Hendry, joined Bruce Levine and Ben Finfer during Hot Stove Saturday on The Score. Jim Hendry is currently the Special Assistant to Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman.

Bruce Levine started the interview by acknowledging the fact he could not ask Hendry directly about Masahiro Tanaka and the interest the Yankees may or may not have in the 25-year old right hander. Levine asked Hendry to comment about the international players currently in the big leagues and how international players may be viewed differently in the game than they once were.

Hendry said that pitchers, like Yu Darvish, have made a huge difference with the way teams view players from the Pacific Rim. Hendry added the landscape has changed in the last 10-15 years. Hendry pointed out baseball is a global game now and teams must scout and develop players from all over the world. Hendry said the Asian market is a big part of it.

Each team probably sends 10-15 scouts to watch the high end players and pitchers. Hendry explained the hope is teams are able to benefit from the work they put in to find the best talent possible and that the rewards outweigh the risks teams take on the players.

Ben Finfer asked Hendry about how the talent level in Japan compares to the majors. The talent level in Japan “has made great progress” according to Hendry and “the depth of it is much better than it used to be years ago in terms of quality and especially in terms of pitching.” Hendry feels that besides the high end players that are posted, there are a lot of players in Japan that could play in the big leagues.

As for working for the Yankees as a Special Assistant to Brian Cashman, Hendry said the Yankees do everything at the highest level and the entire organization is full of quality people and full of quality baseball people from top to bottom. Hendry added he thinks working for the Yankees is something everyone in baseball should be able to do at some point during their career.

Ben Finfer asked Hendry if he is able to keep up with the progress of some of the players he brought into the Cubs’ system such as Javier Baez, Starlin Castro and Jeff Samardzija. Hendry explained he “still has a good relationship with a lot of people” with the Cubs and that he and Theo Epstein have a good relationship. Hendry said, “I think the Cubs have some real, real quality young players and I think people in Chicago are going to start seeing the fruits of their labor here in the next few years. I think position player wise they’ve got some of the better prospects in the game. It will be fun to see and hopefully they will be able to get it going again. And I think they will. I think that Tom Ricketts is committed to finishing it off and getting the job done and having a quality team for a long time. There is no reason why they can’t.”

News, Notes and Rumors

The Orioles are still in the market to add a starting pitcher according to Roch Kubatko. Baltimore could be looking to sign a starter and not trade for one but Dan Duquette will not be signing Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jimenez or Ervin Santana. Duquette is not looking to trade one of his young pitchers and will not surrender his first round draft pick to sign a player tied to draft pick compensation. The O’s were thought to be interested in trading for Jeff Samardzija at one point, but if they are not willing to part with multiple top end pitching prospects, the Cubs and Orioles will not match up on a trade for Samardzija.

And … Pitchers and catchers report to the Cubs’ new facility in 39 days (Feb. 13).

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

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  • Ripsnorter1

    Joel Hanrahan is available. I don’t think the Cubs will look at him. He’s good, but I think they will balk at the money.

    Speaking of money, Japan and bullpen help, think Mr. Fujikawa and his $9 million contract for 2013 and 2014. We got 12 IP last year. This year he’ll open the year on the 60 day DL. It’s a cinch that he won’t pitch 90 innings for us in that entire 2 year deal. If he did, that would work out to $100,000 per IP. And yes, I do know that he is also signed for 2015 at $6 million.

    Hey, that’s expensive! At $25 million per year, Grienke gets less than $1 million per start, if he nets 32 starts.

    • Tony_Hall

      There is risk in all pitchers, relievers, starters, abused or having done everything perfectly from the they threw their bottle out of the crib in perfect form and on a bottle count. Pitching is not a good thing for the arm and all arms are at risk.

    • Scott

      Fujikawa was an elite pitcher for years, that had not been over used and had no major injury history. The day the contract was signed, it was impossible to know if he would get hurt on day 1 or pitch 200 innings with a 2.00 ERA/1.00 WHIP.

    • John_CC

      I know! Can you believe the luck of having the only pitcher ever to get injured right after signing a contract with a new team!

    • No Baseball In Indiana

      In what world is Hanrahan good? He had ONE good season. He’s a two pitch pitcher with a career 3.85 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 4.4 BB/9, and 1.40 WHIP. I hope the Cubs FO balks at the money.

  • jtrain23

    What justification could you find to NOT vote Maddux into the HOF. I am interested to hear from the voters that do leave him from their ballots. Unless I hear something good, i will be forced to believe it is ignorant pride and reluctance to vote 100% on a candidate. If any voters are smug enough to do that, then it’s time for some change.

    • Tony_Hall

      It is not wanting any player to be voted in with 100%.

      • Tony_Hall

        Here is the list in order by highest percentage. Babe Ruth only received 95.13%. Tom Seaver is #1.

        http://www.baseball-almanac.com/hof/hofmem4.shtml

      • jtrain23

        I get it and I know it has never happened. I’m just saying that this is one example of the flaw in thinking by these voters. It is a very antiquated system and style in a new world.

        • Tony_Hall

          I agree, but I also don’t believe you can tell someone else how to use their votes. I just hope that this year, players like Jeff Kent don’t fall off the ballot because of the 10 vote max system. To me, that is the worst part of the system, not whether someone will be unanimous (you are either in the HOF or you are not), but there should be no max number of candidates you can choose in a given year. Same concept, you either think the player is a HOF or you don’t. In many ways I would eliminate the 10 max and then require anyone who didn’t vote for a player previously, who now wants to change their mind, to write an article on why they are changing their vote. That might stop guys from not voting for a player in year 1.

          • paulcatanese

            Agree, and in a perfect world it would happen. Writers are a tight group that just follows the system even a bad one.

          • Dorasaga

            Paul, sometimes I wonder if you are from the 22nd Century!

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            It does need to change. Some traditions are pointless. Just because something is old, or has been done a long time, doesn’t make it right.

            I like air conditioning, flat screen tvs, refrigeration, automobiles, etc… And even though I divorced my ex, I don’t begrudge her the right to vote.

            Change is good…embrace change.

          • Bredstik

            Couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, baseball is about as bad as it gets at making changes because they go against tradition.

          • JasonOfTheBurbs

            writers shouldn’t vote. players and coaches with “x” number of years experience should be allowed to vote.

          • Tony_Hall

            Not sure if there are any HOF’s that do it that way, and I don’t really trust the players and coaches to vote either.

    • John_CC

      It is complete ridiculousness. Egotistical, smug, adhereing to some unwritten dogma, these writers think way too much of themselves.

      I understand not wanting to give it away, but there really is no reason to not vote for one of the best pitchers EVER to play. What would be the harm?

      Whatever, it doesn’t matter. Unanimous is as good as it gets, no one will ever get 100% simply because no one ever has.

  • cubtex

    Buster Olney said Astros would be a good fit for Tanaka because of Appel and if they draft Rodon. Hmmmm. I heard that before from somebody :))

    • dicepaul

      Yes, from about everybody that has looked at the Astros possible future rotation. Wow, you probably really do think that song is about you.

      • cubtex

        lol

      • John_CC

        10,000 pts!

    • Ripsnorter1

      Buster told me that he reads the CCO–articles and posts. He’s in touch.

  • SuzyS

    Vogelbach got married this weekend…His comment is: “2014 is my year!!!”https://twitter.com/svoges24/status/419601486730231808/photo/1, from his sister Sarah’s twitter.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Tom Seaver will make sure Maddux does not get 100% vote…….

    Vogelbach has motivation to win that Cubs first base job now…..

    Jack Morris not in the HOF……something is wrong with the system…
    .
    List of teams that I am 100% sure are out of the Tanaka Race……Cubs, Astros, Red Sox, Twins, Orioles, Blue Jays, Braves, Diamondbacks……

    Who is in……Yankees, Giants, Seattle, Dodgers, Angels, Rangers, Nationals

    • bpot92

      Wait so teams that are said to be all out like the Cubs ad Arizona are out but teams like the Rangers, who have said they arent probably going for anyone big, are in?

      • CubbyDenCritic

        Beware of Smoke Screens by GM’s.

    • daverj

      Unless you are Tanaka, how can you be 100% sure of any of that?

    • mutantbeast

      Mike Mussina and Jim Kaat have better numbers than Morris, and arent in the HOF. Some guys just arent colorful enough, and Morris was neverknown to be a pleasent personality with writers, so he likely didnt make a lot of friends.

  • Eugene Debs

    Any updates on the bunting competition? Are we sticking with that great plan?

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Cubs Video Assistant has the odds on favor to win again this season.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Just came across some of the Cubs Spring Training Competition Events……
    - Lester Strode Bullpen to Mound Sprint Race.
    - Starlin Castro Sun Flower Spitting Event
    - Eric Hinske Base Running Event
    - Name Our Third Base Coach?
    - Brandon Hyde Hand Signal Contest
    - Who Wins Third Base Contest
    - Guess How Many Inches of Snow on Opening Day
    - Rick Renteria Baseball Spanish Quiz
    - Find Logan (Waldo) Watkins Event

  • Tom U

    Jerry Crasnick feels the Cubs are players for Nyjer Morgan

    http://outsidepitchmlb.com/2014/01/04/potential-suitors-for-nyjer-morgan/#!

    • texcubnut

      Say it ain’t so, Tom.

      • Tom U

        Don’t shoot the messagener!

        • Bredstik

          I’ve actually always liked Nyjer Morgan aka Tony Plush aka Tony Gumbo! He’s entertaining if nothing else…

    • Ripsnorter1

      I was in Cincinnati and watching the Brewer play the Reds in 2012. This guy almost cost Grienke the game all by himself: horrible fielder. Wasn’t hitting a lick. Throwing to the wrong base. All the things that we don’t want in a player.

      Just bring up Brett Jackson and have a better OF than one with this guy.

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  • Tom U

    Watching The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly on TCM instead of the NFL Good (Forty Niners), Bad (Green Bay) and Ugly (Packer’s fans).

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Can’t go wrong with Kelly’s Heroes, Where Eagles Dare, Play Misty For Me, Thunderbolt & Lightfoot and Eiger Sanction.

      • Tom U

        Saw “Where Eagle Dare” at the Patio Theater in Chicago when I was 6.

        • CubbyDenCritic

          Saw those movies at Marquette……they had a candy/popcorn shop next to it….really good carmel corn….I think that whole city block was torn down.

          • paulcatanese

            Was that on the south side? If so I remember it. Also the Capitol theater, as a boy I heard about Pearl Harbor there.

        • CubbyDenCritic

          If you ever go to L.A,, many of the neighborhoods still have the old movie theaters…..the city and various groups restored the pre-1940 theaters….the exterior lights & architecture are really something……large movie screen….not these 24 screen outlets that are like a show box.

      • paulcatanese

        Yeah, but Eastwood can’t hit the curve ball:)

      • mutantbeast

        Clints best movies all started with Dirty Harry…..

    • No Baseball In Indiana

      I heard Joe Buck had a very serious medical condition that almost led to permanent voice loss. Cubs lose, Bears lose, Bulls lose, Buck keeps his voice… *sigh*

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    The hall voters are idiots. Anybody that doesn’t put Greg Maddux on a ballot first year should be taken out and shot…

    • Ripsnorter1

      Wow. You really think they ought to stand before a firing squad?

      • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

        Just kneecap them Rip, not headshots. Jeez, what kind of a person you take me for? ;)

  • No Baseball In Indiana

    “Hendry said the Yankees do everything at the highest level… and [are] full of quality baseball people from top to bottom. ”

    This comment of course was immediately invalidated by Hendry’s presence.

  • Tom U

    Statement from Commissioner Selig on the passing of Jerry Coleman: pic.twitter.com/PCRHhEggYG