When the Baseball World Slows to a Halt
Who do you turn to?
It's been really slow in the Cub universe of news. The baseball winter meetings were a horror show as far as this Cub fan could tell.
I'm incredibly news starved when you consider that I took running notes on BL's "Talking Baseball" show on ESPN-1000 radio. This week, his 2 hour baseball gab session with sidekick Jonathan Hood covered three main Cub topics: CF, 2B and the bullpen.
So here's an IV dose of baseball, Bruce Levine "Talking Baseball" style. What follows are my notes and occasional commentary from the Saturday post-Christmas program. After the jump...
BL's Opening statement: Cub fans may still be disappointed with Jim Hendry not adding to the team yet (no kidding!).
Matt Capps - Bruce Levine said he's not sure Hendry got beyond the basic parameters of a contract. BL couldn't confirm that any formal contract offer was made. He thought Hendry needed to do a back loaded 2 year deal to get Capps. Ultimately, Capps took a one year deal as a closer thinking that he'll do even better in one year, either in his last year of arbitration eligibility or as again a non-tendered free agent. BL says Hendry would backload a one year deal if that were possible but BL says they don't allow that. We can expect Jim Hendry will recommend a backloaded a one year deal with Dunkin' Donuts though (insert your own gratuitous donut joke...ta da boom).
If the Cubs have about $8M to spend for 3 players (OF, 2B, BP), Hendry will need to do his backloading thing on whoever they sign (for any contract beyond one year).
Cubs needs: CF
Marlon Byrd is probably the fit, given the Jaramillo factor which will provide a comfort level for Byrd. Byrd is coming off of a career year at age 33. Where does hit in the order? Batting #5 thru #7. How much of a contractural commitment beyond one year is an issue.
The Cubs had no interest in Coco Crisp (now signed with A's) because of concerns about his health and that he's too far away from his peak year.
Why consider Scott Podsednik? Because he's a leadoff man. Adequate LF, not a good CF. Not good on the base paths with lots of gaffs and he gets picked off a lot. Theriot is better as a #2 hitter or 7,8 (but not a leadoff hitter).
Trade possibilities for CF - David DeJesus (KC).
Reed Johnson - Levine says that his agent is talking to Yankees.
Cubs needs: 2B
Caller mentions consideration of a one year deal with Orlando Cabrera or Miguel Tejada at SS, moving Theriot to 2B while waiting for Starlin Castro to develop. Levine is a big Cabrera fan because he manages to go to the playoffs every year. Levine mentions he's got a rep of not being a team guy but can lead off because he takes pitches. Cabrera is coming off of a $7M deal so a lowball deal might make him disgruntled. BL recalled Cabrera's involvement in the three team 2004 trade that netted the Cubs Nomar Garciaparra (Cabrera went to Boston, who did eventually did win the World Series that season).
Bruce Levine discussed Ryan Theriot in detail, in the context of the Cubs evaluation of their own minor league system's talent. Theriot could have easily fallen through the system (I remember the failed experiment to turn him into a switch hitter). BL says nobody in the Cubs system projected him as a starting SS, but when Piniella saw Ceasar Izturis was not bringing anything, he gave him a shot. Theriot is a gutsy little guy. Coaches (Trammel and DeJesus) worked on his footwork to help some. Theriot has been a very good offensive player and an adequate SS but he'll never remind one of Omar Vizquel. I (don't we all) expect his ultimate destination is 2B, but who knows if that shift can happen as soon as this season.
Zambrano in a trade?
Put those rumors to rest. Cubs weren't interesting in trading Z but like any team they should be listening to offers (to understand his market value). Z will not waive his NTC per his agent Barry Praver. Z has been living in Chicago this winter for the first time and working very hard with a personal trainer. Levine said that it was a mistake to use Z as a pinch hitter letting him run the bases and risking him to injury if you are wanting Z to pitch more than 30 games a season.
Cubs needs: Bullpen
Caller asks about who is next on their reliever acquisition radar. Cubs have extreme interest in Kiko Calero. Makes me wonder what he was thinking when he unloaded Michael Wuertz for Billy Goat Beanes (see the above comments on evaluating your own talent). At least we've gotten rid of Aaron Heilman and all the other mistakes named Aaron from the 2008 offseason.
The Cubs have talked to Jose Contreras agent considering him as a starter/swingman.
Caller asks about the using the upcoming minor talent for the bullpen. BL says Esmalin Caridad will get a shot in the pen and Cubs are expecting Samardzija to be a starter (at some point).
Bruce Levine's Cubs top 10 of the Decade: 1. ARam, 2. Zambrano, 3. DLee, 4. Kerry Wood, 5. Dempster, 6. Sosa, 7. Moises Alou, 8. Theriot, 9. Prior, 10. DeRosa
I'm going back to my cave to hibernate.
Over/under on HBP tonight?
Yes, I know KB played LF and Szczur played RF last night, but there's a legit case that RF is the easier draw at PNC.
Seems an odd lineup -- Soler in LF and Bryant in RF? Two guys out of position? I guess Fed has to catch tonight so All Star Gramps can catch Lester tomorrow. Or maybe Joe just wants somebody else to catch a no-hitter. Would love to see KB get the power turned on. C'mon Jorge -- channel your playoff self!
All it took was Schwarber, Heyward, and Szczur getting hurt for him to get to play again. Let's go ahead and call this little stretch your last real chance to prove you belong on this team, Jorge.
soler hitting 2nd...didn't expect that one.
tonight: Fowler, Soler, Bryant, Rizzo, Zobrisjt, Baez, Russell, Federowicz, Arrieta
roster shuffle official per Sun Times, Gordon Wittenmeyer on twitter...Szczur to DL with minor hamstring strain, Chris Villanueva to 60 day DL, Ryan Kalish to 40 man roster and gets the call-up.
There's an interview with Heyward up on ESPN where he says the wrist thing has been lingering and he just brought it up with the team as it didn't go away. So that could very well explain why he hasn't had the same hard contact recently.
Ryan Kalish writeup (by Peter Gammons last November):
Villanueva goes to the 60 day DL.
Peter Gammons just tweeted that teammates are tweeting Kalish is getting recalled. Not sure which ones and what they'll do with the 40 man but there we go.
Jesee Rogers just said he thought Ryan Kalish would be the call up.
Ryan Kalish is not on the 40-man either.
Schwarber hurt, Heyward hurt, Szczur hurt. Let's see how many guys have to go down before Soler gets his job back.
RHP Jake Arrieta (5-0, 1.00)
Neat. This ought to be a good game.
Unless somebody goes on the 60-DL or ouright them they can't call up Shane he's not on the 40 man roster, he still on a minor league contract