The baseball world has set up shop at the Manchester Grand Hotel in San Diego for the Winter Meetings. It is expected to be a busy week throughout the game as teams attempt to fill holes on their rosters. The annual gathering does not officially begin until Monday, but the Twitter Machine figures to heat up and begin firing one rumor after the other by Sunday afternoon … so stay tuned.
On the Cubs front, Theo Epstein addressed the unresolved tampering charges and coaching changes before he left Chicago for San Diego.
Major League Baseball began its investigation a month ago into tampering charges filed by the Tampa Bay Rays. The Rays claimed the Cubs talked to Joe Maddon before he opted out of the last year of his contract. The Cubs and Joe Maddon’s agent, Alan Nero, were notified by MLB on Nov. 10 that the matter was being investigated.
Theo Epstein denied the charges and said he welcomed the investigation because the Cubs had nothing to hide.
The Rays allowed Dave Martinez to talk to the Cubs about a position on Joe Maddon’s staff. Even with Martinez resigning after being passed over for the Rays’ managerial opening, he was still under contract for the 2015 season.
Patrick Mooney asked Epstein if he had an update on the situation. Epstein said as far as he knows “that’s still ongoing” but he’s not “in the least bit worried about it.”
Doug Dascenzo and Coaching Responsibilities
Theo Epstein addressed Doug Dascenzo’s role with the Cubs moving forward and Dave Martinez’s responsibilities when he met Friday with the beat writers.
Epstein said Doug Dascenzo “is a Cub” and handled his new position “with complete grace.” Dascenzo was hired to be Rick Renteria’s first base coach and among his responsibilities at the big league level were to be working with the outfielders and with the team on baserunning skills.
The Cubs moved Dascenzo to an outfield and baserunning coach at the major and minor league levels in order to create room on Maddon’s staff for Dave Martinez. Brandon Hyde was shifted to first base coach from his position as bench coach. Dascenzo will “spend significant time with the big league team” working with the young outfielders and the team’s baserunning, which the front office would like to see a lot of improvement made in that area next season.
Brandon Hyde “will continue to run Spring Training” according to the report from Carrie Muskat.
The Cubs like the “edge” that Dave Martinez has and his ability to “communicate well” with players. Epstein said the front office is excited to have Martinez on Maddon’s staff. Epstein explained Martinez is “Joe’s right-hand man” and the two have “proved to be a winning combination in the past.”
Dave Martinez and Doug Dascenzo were teammates on the Cubs in 1988.
News, Notes and Rumors
The Cubs are believed to be interested in Miguel Montero. And he almost became a Dodger. According to Ken Rosenthal, the Dodgers and Diamondbacks discussed a Montero for Andre Ethier swap that would have included other players … but Arizona’s ownership would not approve the deal.
Cubs still looking to upgrade at catcher after Russell Martin pursuit according to a report from Comcast SportsNet … and Miguel Montero is a name to keep an eye on.
Free agency isn’t a strength for Cubs bosses Epstein and Hoyer according to Gordon Wittenmyer.
The front office has a history with Luke Gregerson and the free agent reliever was connected to the Cubs early in the off-season. With Andrew Miller off the board, the market for the other setup men is heating up according to Ken Rosenthal.
According to Buster Olney, more and more agents are questioning why David Robertson did not accept the Yankees qualifying offer.
LHP Brett Anderson and RHP Carlos Villanueva are two of three pitchers that could interest the Twins according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Joel Sherman broke down 28 teams with 28 agendas at this week’s MLB meetings.
The Yankees are still interested in re-signing Chase Headley, but according to Ken Rosenthal, the Giants are being very aggressive in their pursuit of Headley. According to Buster Olney, the rumored four-year, $65 million offer that Headley has is not from the Giants.
Jayson Stark surveyed nine baseball men for his annual post about when the big name free agents will sign. This year’s poll was the starting pitching market of Jon Lester, Max Scherzer and James Shields. The average date of when Lester will sign was Dec. 10, on Scherzer the average date was Jan. 22 and on Shields, Dec. 16. The consensus was that Lester would end up in Boston and Scherzer in the Bronx with one AL exec predicting the Cubs would sign Scherzer on St. Patrick’s Day. Shields’ destination could not be predicted because the team that signs him could be one that lost out on Lester. The consensus on Shields was the Cubs if Lester signs elsewhere.
Buster Olney provided an update on the Jacob Nix-Houston situation. Nix and the Astros have not settled the dispute … and Houston has not resolved the dispute with Brady Aiken either. Olney was told there are four possible resolutions with Nix. 1) Nix follows through with his grievance, wins, Houston is forced to sign him and loses two draft picks. 2) Nix follows through and losses. 3) The least likely scenario, Nix drops the grievance and returns to college. 4) The Astros and Nix reach a financial settlement, which might be a preferred outcome for the Houston. Olney pointed out, the Astros stand to lose two No. 1 draft picks, “which would be a significant defeat with major consequences.”
And last, but certainly not least, I was made aware of a Cubs book Saturday after tweeting out ‘This Day in Cubs History’ information. The Cubs selected Willie Hernandez from the Phillies in the 1976 Rule 5 Draft and according to the book by Chris Neitzel, trading Hernandez is one of the 105 reasons the Cubs have not won a World Series. ‘Beyond Bartman, Curses & Goats: 105 Reasons Why It’s Been 105 Years’
Minor League News
According to Baseball America, catcher Charles Cutler signed a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Angels. The Cubs selected Cutler in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 Draft and he spent last season in the Cubs’ system. The 28-year old batted .310/.415/.412 in 102 games with 14 doubles and five home runs for a .827 OPS for Double-A Tennessee.
Several former Cubs’ farmhands signed, or re-signed, minor league contracts … C Blake Lalli re-signed with the Diamondbacks, RHP Justin Germano signed with the Mariners, OF Cole Gillespie signed with the Marlins and SS Andres Blanco re-signed with the Phillies.
This Day In Cubstory
2012 – Cubs signed free agent Kyuji Fujikawa to a two-year contract
2012 – Cubs signed free agent Jensen Lewis
2006 – Cubs selected Jim Henderson from the Nationals in the Rule 5 Draft
2006 – Blue Jays selected Jason Smith from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft
2006 – Cubs selected Josh Hamilton from the Devil Rays in a pre-arranged cash deal with the Reds in the Rule 5 Draft. Reds purchased Josh Hamilton from the Cubs.
2005 – Cubs signed free agent John Mabry
2005 – Cubs traded Sergio Mitre, Ricky Nolasco and Renyel Pinto to the Marlins for Juan Pierre
2004 – Cubs re-signed free agent Nomar Garciaparra
2004 – Cubs re-signed free agent Todd Walker
2003 – Cubs re-signed free agent Tom Goodwin
2003 – Cubs re-signed free agent Mark Grudzielanek
2001 – Cubs signed free agent Luis Ordaz
1998 – Cubs signed free agent Gary Gaetti
1998 – Cubs signed free agent Glenallen Hill
1996 – Cubs granted free agency to Luis Gonzalez
1989 – Kyle Hendricks, born
1989 – Cubs traded Paul Kilgus to the Blue Jays for Jose Nunez
1988 – Cubs re-signed free agent Scott Sanderson
1987 – Cubs signed free agent Manny Trillo
1984 – Cubs re-signed free agent Steve Trout
1983 – Cubs received Scott Sanderson from the Expos as part of a three-team trade. The Padres sent Gary Lucas to the Expos. Montreal sent Al Newman to the Padres. The Cubs sent Fritzie Connally, Craig Lefferts and Carmelo Martinez to San Diego.
1981 – Cubs traded Doug Capilla to the Giants for Allen Ripley
1979 – Ryan Theriot, born
1966 – Cubs acquired Ray Culp and cash from the Phillies for Dick Ellsworth
1955 – Scot Thompson, born
1953 – Braves purchased George Metkovich from the Cubs
1935 – Don Cardwell, born
1930 – Mark Freeman, born
1916 – Jorge Commellas, born
1911 – Don Johnson, born
1847 – Deacon White, born