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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...

I'm gonna attempt to write this on my IPhone. I won't be able to link to articles, so you'll have to take my word for it. Let's see what happens...I'm also going to leave in most of the autocorrects just for giggles.

- Sandy Alomar Jr. had his interview yesterday and Bruce Levine considers him the front runner only because he's not sure if Mike Maddux would take the job. Jed Hoyer says they're happy with the 4 candidates so far and it's unlikely, but possible they'd bring in another. And it's really 5 candidates as Terry Francona still seems a real possibility.

- Theo has reached out to Carlos Zambrano over the phone and the two may meet sometime after the GM meetings.

- Kerry Wood has had preliminary talks with the new front office crew. No details though on what he's expecting or what the Cubs will offer.

- The Miami Marlins unveiled their new logo and uniforms last night and would love for Mark Buehrle, Jose Reyes and Albert Pujols to be wearing them next season. They'be allegedly already offered competitive contracts to each of them.

- Rumor on Rotoworld that that Padres would listen to offers on Chase Headley. No idea what they may be expecting to get, but certainly a guy the Cubs should look into.

- Another guy the Cubs should consider s Grady Sizemore who seems willing to take a 1-year deal and try to build up his value for a bigger payday after 2012. I'm not sure what type of real he's willing to take, Hutu but he could make sense in any of the OF spots. If he's looking for a center field gig, I'm certainly happy to trade Byrd or move hi. To the bench or a corner spot if absolutely necessary. If you're worried about blocking Brett Jackson, I'd be more worried about avoiding Super 2 status and not calling him up until June. At that point, injuries, production and a variety of other things. Oils happen to open up a spot.

Enjoy the weekend, Bears 34 - Lions 32.

Word is that Mike Maddux took his name out of the running of the Boston job citing a desire to keep his family in Texas, probably a good bet that the same thing will happen to the Cubs, but haven't heard about it yet.

On to another Brewer coach...Dale Sveum.

Mackanin is the first to interview and the first to be profiled. Next up is Greg Maddux's big brother, Mike Maddux who will interview sometime next week after he gets over a case of laryngitis. Gordon Wittenmeyer pegs him as the early favorite because he's a pitching coach and the Cubs need better pitching. I hope that makes as little sense to everyone else as it does to me.

It appears at the moment that the Cubs are focused on three names to take over for Q-Ball, shockingly three names that the Red Sox are also interested in.

Let's do a little vetting starting with Pete Mackanin.

From Jon Morosi of Fox Sports...

#Cubs announce Mike Quade won't return in 2012.

and adds...

Theo Epstein says #Cubs' next manager "must have managerial or coaching experience at the major league level." Fact: Ryne Sandberg doesn't.

Meh on the last part...more in a bit.

UPDATE: More quotes...

"The managerial search process begins immediately. We are looking for someone with whom and around whom we can build a foundation for sustained success. The next manager must have leadership and communication skills; he must place an emphasis on preparation and accountability; he must establish high standards and a winning culture; he must have integrity and an open mind; and he must have managerial or coaching experience at the major league level.

The news broke last night that MLB and Frank McCourt came to an agreement to sell the Dodgers...possibly at gun point. That's real good news for baseball and Dodger fans that truly couldn't stand the guy. That's bad news if you thought any bargains were going to be had in free agency for the big names. For let's remember the Cubs offseason of 2006 when they were ready to sell and Tribune racked up a giant bill that they didn't have to pay.

Rumors on XM radio and from Ned Colletti were that the Dodgers already had some money to spend this offseason, agent and former player Dave Stewart commented that they approached him about an extension for Matt Kemp and he took that as they're not as handcuffed as some want to believe. And they very much need a big bopper in that lineup and I wouldn't be too surprised if they made a run at Jose Reyes as well.  Anything can happen of course and they may go after Pujols instead, but I wouldn't be surprised in the least that McCourt makes one more fame grab and tries to load up the Dodgers this offseason and then take as much credit as he can if they're successful, even after he sells it.

I believe the press conference is scheduled for 3pm CST, maybe EST...so soon. You can allegedly watch a live stream at CSN Chicago.

In the meantime, read up on the new scouting director with this very well done Q&A.

The rumor mill is rather quiet at the moment, last bit of "news" was that Theo and Jed (sounds like a sitcom title) met with Q-Ball for 7 hours last week and have a second meeting this week. I want to imagine the 7 hours was spent getting as much information about the ballclub out of him before they canned him.

On the manager front, Peter Abraham reports that the Cubs and Red Sox could both be interested in former Brewer player and their current hitting coach, Dale Sveum.

After the jump, I'm trying to embed the live stream...see if it works.

The best thing MLB Trade Rumors ever did was buy the rights to Eddie Bajek's reverse-engineered Elias rankings. This year he nailed all but two free agents before the official list came out (Kelly Johnson and Joel Zumaya).

As for the Cubs, Ryan Dempster exercised his $14M option for next year, so his Type A status is a moot point. But the Cubs did exercise their $16M option on Aramis Ramirez last night and it seems to be a mere formality at this point that Ramirez will decline it to seek a multi-year deal. That saves the Cubs $2M on the buyout and the Cubs will likely get a supplemental draft pick if and when Ramirez signs somewhere else as he just missed Type A status and is a Type B free agent. Carlos Pena also qualified at Type B status and his situation is a bit trickier as he could potentially accept the Cubs arbitration offer.

Late Friday night, Bud Selig apparently had enough of the Cubs and Red Sox distracting from what now appears to be a real good World Series and the two teams sent out press releases saying Theo to the Cubs is official. The issue of compensation still needs to be resolved, with talks picking up after Tuesday's press conference and they have until November 1st before big bad Bud has to settle it for them through a game of RBI baseball.

- Theo stopped by the Cubs' offices today and the press conference is Tuesday at 11AM. On his way out, he fired everyone (well I'm sure he really wanted to).

- Boston Herald has a nice rundown of the Theo years. Here's a good one of Jed Hoyer by Tom Krasovic.

- The Sun-Times has some nice things to say about Randy Bush (and more bad things to say about Crane Kenney). One of those, "thanks for all the info over the years, hope this helps your future job search" articles.

- I wonder how the Theo jerseys will sell.

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