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.
To be fair to Emery and Trestman the foreshadowing of last year started happening well before them with the failure or mismanaging of multiple draft classes forcing the team to overspend in a free agency market that is even worse than baseball. Kyle Long seems like a good pick but they traded away another good one in Olson because of Martz's stupidity and inability to change his offense to fit the team talent.
HAGSAG: I think Domonic Brown does fit the criteria of a reclamation project, but unless he is willing to accept a minor league contract with an NRI to Spring Training, I don't think the Cubs would be interested given where the Cubs are right now. A couple of years ago? Yes. But probably not now.
Brown would be better-off going to a club that is rebuilding and re-establish his value there, like Chris Coghlan did with the Cubs. And if he can re-establish his value, he could get traded to a contender at the trade deadline and take it from there.
"they just fade away"
(Except in the cases of no-fade lefties like Moyer, Orosco and Rich Hill.)
Amazing to me how quickly it fell apart under Trestman. Year 1, they were a Chris Conte brain fart away from making the playoffs. Year 2 -- coach, staff and GM all fired.
I am sure Jonathon Mota will be signed next.
AZ Phil, what is your thoughts on Domonic Brown as a reclamation project?
He also played LF in deference to Curtis Granderson.
Meh... other moves to make...hope to see a move or two soon.
I haven't seen much Bears football this year - difficult to watch the games out here, but the game I saw the week before I was watching in shock as I saw them actually make tackles. And Cutler has looked really good, too.
I guess people can quibble about play calling, but the team I saw is way more than 50% better coached (my only very minor disagreement with your comment).
Under Trestman, the team didn't do anything right. This team played like a well coached team when I saw them play the Rams.
"What is sometimes overlooked about Vogelbach because of his "bad body" and because he has struggled so much defensively is that he is a hard worker, has a great attitude, loves to play the game, and is very well-liked by his teammates, and while that may not seem important, teams do actually value stuff like that. "
As well they should. Replace a word here and there and you are describing any worker someone would hire.
Hak-Ju Lee signs a minor league contract with SF Giants.
Some closure on the 6 degrees of Separation for Matt Garza/Chris Archer
-0.3 WAR in 7.1ip last year...
-3 WAR projected over the course of a season.
the cubs just added an all-star reliever's worth of work by losing b.schlitter.
Rockies sign Brian Schlitter to a minor league contract. Good luck in Coors Field. Enough said.
i'll take him over frandy since it's unlikely he'll progress as a SS (and 2nd isn't looking much better).
i hope patton's delivery deception skills play well in the bigs over time. cubs need pitching options that are MLB-ready and dude fits the bill for a MLB/AAA mix...both needed.
I'm not saying he's great, but can we agree on the word "decent"? Became a pro at 23, called up at 26; nothing wrong with that trajectory, he hasn't been knocking around. Even in the majors his SO9 is 9.7. In the minors it's 12.2, so he's always missed bats, and without being a wild man: his walks are low. He cost the Cubs an unheralded A-ball middle infielder and a roster spot.
he's a righty (a 27 year old one that's going to be 28 before spring training starts) that throws low 90s with a low-80s slider. that's as ordinary as it gets for a righty reliever.