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The flow of rumors is down to a drip as we near the Christmas break. Yet the Cubs are without a first basemen or much of a starting staff and still employ Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano. There is still work to be done JedStein.

- Early in the day yesterday, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN reported that "there were signs today (I can't say precisely what) to indicate the Cubs are stepping up their pursuit of Prince Fielder." Four hours later Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, claimed the "Cubs are not major players for Prince Fielder. Not ready to spend big." I hate when my baseless rumors contradict. WHO AM I TO BELIEVE?!?!?!?!

I'd like to move on from the unfortunate business in the last thread of comments. So have it...

The only news I can find is Rafael Furcal headed back to the Cardinals on a 2-year deal, around $14M. The Brewers found their SS in Alex Gonzalez on a 1-year deal with a vesting option for 2013.

Bruce Levine and Wittenmyer both had articles on the Cubs new third basemen.

I liked Baseball America's take on the trade. Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus share their thoughts as well.

Ho Ho Ho!

The long rumored deal to nab Ian Stewart from the Rockies went down last night, and the Cubs also received pitcher Casey Weathers in the deal. The cost? Tyler Colvin and D.J. LeMahieu.

To the analysis...

The same deal as yesterday, keep the rumors flowing and check the twitter box on the right.

The news from the Cubs is that Carlos Pena has declined arbitration, although Levine indicates he may return on a free agent deal. If he signs elsewhere, the Cubs will get a compensation pick between the first and second rounds of the draft. Aramis hasn't formally declined, but obviously very unlikely he would accept since he declined the Cubs $16M option already, unless he misread the market and a multi-year deal isn't really out there, but that seems unlikely. My guess is he goes to the Brewers.

- Talks continue on Ian Stewart with names like Blake DeWitt, Tyler Colvin and DJ LeMahieu being mentioned.

- Albert Pujols had 10-year offers from the Marlins and Cardinals and it appears he's headed back to the Cardinals. The Cubs were in the mix somehow, but don't appear to be a real threat to land him. Marlins may move on to Fielder or focus their dollars on pitching.

Unfortunately I won't be around my computer much today to keep up on the rumors, but feel free to bombard the comments. I won't be on twitter much either to update the right sidebar, so it's up to you guys, although Cubnut may be on twitter some to keep that going.

Latest Cubs news is that they did offer Albert Pujols a contract, one considerably shorter than the 10-year offer the Marlins gave him, but likely for a much higer average annual salary. The Cubs seem to have the same mindset about Prince Fielder, preferring a shorter deal with a higher average annual salary than the 7-8 year deals that are being rumored.

Happy Rumoring!!

(props to Jacos for the headline)

The Cubs signed OF David DeJesus to a 2-year/$10 million deal with a 3rd year club option. It's actually $4.25M for the next two years with a $1.5M buyout or $6.5M in 2014. A Jim Bowden tweet indicates that the Cubs told him DeJesus will be the everyday right fielder.

Dejesus will be 32 next season and played for the A's last year and had the worst season of his career, a 93 OPS+ on the back of a .274 BABIP. His career slash line is 284/356/447 with a 106 OPS+. Great for a center fielder, kind of okay for a right fielder, but he's getting older and probably gonna be as good or worse than his career numbers going forward. That means baserunning and defense will have to make up some of the difference and if you believe in some of the defensive numbers out there, he seems to been quite an asset. Most of that time was in center, so a move to right field should be no problem. (Correction, played right for A's last year for the most part and put up great UZR numbers if you care for that).  Although he doesn't steal a bunch of bases, his baserunning numbers seem to border on neutral to a slight positive. He's cheap enough and lefty enough that this isn't too big a deal to me and he does nearly see 4 pitchers per plate appearance which fits into the mold of grinding out at-bats. That all being said, it's a big old "meh" move. As Kevin Goldstein tweeted, it's a warm body that fills a need, and for a guy that at best should be worth about 2 wins over replacement, the cost makes it about right. But I have a hard time seeing the big difference between him, Byrd or Fukudome.

- Former major league catcher Jamie Quirk has been named the Cubs bench coach. His last job was as the Houston Astros bullpen coach under manager Brad Mills, who of course came over from the Boston Red Sox.

- Ken Rosenthal reporting that the Cubs are looking in on Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, with a preference for Pujols because, well, he's better, at least in the all-around game. Of course he's also older and possibly could be doping up on HGH. Stark confirms that a phone call was made.

- Good chat with Jim Callis over at NSBB on some of the Cubs prospects.

- Speaking of prospects, Kevin Goldstein put out his Cubs Top 11 for 2012...I believe the article is free. Past BP lists can be found at Wiklifield.

- Kaplan and others reporting that Cubs are listening on offers to Matt Garza. Apparently though Sean Marshall is off limits, which makes little to no sense. They've also "kicked the tires" on free agent David DeJesus.

- Cubs have also asked about Rockies third basemen ian Stewart.

After what felt like months of chatting about compensation, GM's, presidents and managers, the new powers-that-be finally get around to some player juggling. The deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 draft is soon approaching and the Cubs had some decisions to make. The lucky 4 deemed worth protecting were Josh Vitters, Matt Szczur, Jeff Beliveau and Junior Lake. The Cubs cut some dead weight by outrighting Esmailin Caridad, Luis Montanez and Kyle Smit and according to the press release, their roster stands at 34 at the moment. Ideally AZ Phil will come along here shortly and remind us who that leaves unprotected, although I do believe the big surprise is Ryan Flaherty being left off. I wonder what the Cubs brass knows that I'm not seeing.

UPDATE: I recovered Phil's work and on the lower right sidebar, you'll see an updated list through 11/4/11 with whom is eligible, including such names as Ryan Flaherty, Jay Jackson, Blake Parker, Dae-Eun Rhee and Marwin Gonzalez.

AZ PHIL UPDATE: I have updated the 2011 Rule 5 Draft eligible list, the post-2011 Minor League FA list, and the current Cubs Roster & Contract Status lists on the right side-bar to reflect today's roster moves, and I have also updated the 40-man roster file in AZ PHIL'S CORNER.

and apparently Dale Sveum is about to be named Cubs manager...the value of my 1989 Donruss Set is going to go through the roof!!!

If topics among major league teams trended like twitter, "building the farm system" would certainly be near the top. All the new GM's and some of the old ones alluded to it one way or another as the key to sustained success and of course, there's a lot of truth to it. But there's also a lot of truth to the famous phrase, "it's easier said than done".  For the new Cubs in charge, they'll be taking over a farm system that will likely rank in the lower third as an organization in overall talent that many of the self-proclaimed experts believe has lots of depth and marginal major league talent, but very light on the upper tier players. Unfortunately, it's those upper tier players that the Cubs are sorely in need of at that moment as they try to reverse a 3-year trend of losing while in the midst of saying goodbye to their aging core of players. Not only do the Cubs have to find(or soon find) replacements for the likes of Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Zambrano, Kosukue Fukudome, Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano, Marlon Byrd and so on, but they have to find players that are cumulatively better than those in order to improve. Just finding the equivalent isn't going to get the Cubs back into the division hunt. Personally, I don't see those players in the Cubs farm system right now and certainly not anyone ready in the next year or two. So to me that means having to dive into free agency and/or be willing to trade some of that depth for a few stars (much like the much aligned Garza trade last year) if the Cubs intend to compete next year and the subsequent years. Now if they want to go into a full 3-year rebuild, more power to them, but I don't see the Cubs taking that path. To me, it's identifying whom on this list and subsequent lists are going to be the average or above average major league contributors and not just roster filler, protecting those players and thus making everyone else expendable if a trade presents itself.

Before we get to the rankings, I like to share this bit of insight from Bill James via Joe Posnanski. Something to keep in mind that not all top 10 lists are the same.

A few years ago, Bill James told me something I had never thought about before but now think about all the time, especially after trades like this one: Every single baseball team has prospects. Every one. The best teams. The worst teams. The smartest teams. The dumbest teams. They all have prospects. Not only that — every team has enough prospects to fill out a Top 10 list. You never see a team’s “Top 7 Prospects” list because the team did not have enough to fill out 10. No. They all have 10.

To the list...

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