Can't Buy Me Lovie

So the Bears won yesterday and finished 10-6 on the year, a 2-game improvement upon 2011. Normally this doesn't get your coach fired, but when the coach has been there for 9 seasons and has only put together back-to-back winning seasons once, normal doesn't apply. So the Bears owners (maybe management) did what I'd say 99% of Bears fans wanted and fired Lovie today.

These few paragraphs from the Trib story sum up his Bears' career best.


Since Smith took over in 2004, the Bears have ranked higher than 23rd in offense only once. They have ranked 28th or lower four times.

Since 2004, the Bears defense ranks first in the league in takeaways, three-and-out drives forced and third-down percentage and is fourth in scoring defense.

Smith's defenders scored 34 touchdowns, which became a signature of the Bears' style of play.

There was some good, some bad and I'm sure after 9 years of a defense first team, many fans will be screaming for an offensive first coach. Sure. But if that happens, you know by mid-season the same fans will be complaining why the defense doesn't get takeaways anymore. Regardless of what the future holds, the Bears finally got rid of the past they held on well past the expiration date. So as the hope of the New Year approaches, the hope for a new Bears dynasty comes with it.

In other news, I'm going to go back to the old comment system (it's active for this post). Thanks for being my guinea pigs with the Disqus experiment, but I just don't think it works as well. All your old usernames will still work and you can email me if you have issues logging in (upper right, look for the envelope icon). I think I will be disabling new registrations though, at least as an automatic process, and anyone that wants to join will just have to email me and I'll set up their user accounts. Hopefully that'll curb the 200+ bogus registrations I get a day. I know, first world problems, but the things that annoy me to no end. Anyway, let me know if there are any issues.

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See note above...here's what Cubster wrote

 

ESPN has a list of the hot coordinators, and two oldie but goodies...

Jay Glaser has tweeted that the Bears have already requested to interview Bronco's offensive coordinator, Mike McCoy.

The list of rising coordinator candidates around the league is long; should the Bears want to bring in a new offensive guru to work with Jay Cutler, there's men like Denver's Mike McCoy, Cincinnati's Jay Gruden, Indy's Bruce Arians, San Francisco's Greg Roman and Atlanta's Dirk Koetter. If they pick from the defensive side of the ball, Cincinnati's Mike Zimmer, Jacksonville's Mel Tucker and the Giants' Perry Fewell are possibilities. There are also the "big name" candidates -- Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher -- though it's unclear whether Chicago would go in that direction.

I think my wish is Jon Gruden. Why? I think his power WCO works well with the personnel in place. It's close to the system the Shanahan's ran in Denver (not the pistol offense they run now), and he has a star back and 2 big WR's to work with. Gruden could have a chance to keep Marinelli (although if Lovie gets a HC gig, first bet is that Rod joins him), and if not Marinelli, Gruden could potentially bring Monte Kiffing. Considering the veteran core to the defense is more of a 4-3 fit, running the same/similar defensive scheme would be a big plus.

That said, Gruden is going to want control, and Emery isn't going to give that up. So, I think this is going the highly respected offensive assistant route (should note, I do wonder if Kyle Shanahan might be in the mix once the Redskins are out of the playoffs). I really can't see them hiring a defensive guy, and the early names suggest they aren't going that route.

______

As for the offseason, they simply have to do whatever they can to make a play for a LT. Could be a guy like Branden Albert from KC, who Emery knows. I'm still of the belief that we have solid enough options inside and at RT ... so fixing the LT hole would make things that much better. The Webb experiment at LT should end - I'd be okay with him at RT, but it's time to move on from that and to try and get better. After that, they need depth on defense, and maybe they need to go search for a pass-catching TE (or find a HC that can use Evan Rodriguez's athletic gifts).

Don't know if there is an actual link saying it, but either on ESPN or another one of the Sunday shows, heard they said Rick Dennison was a possibility. Like Kyle Shanahan, that would be a fascinating guy, a guy who knows Cutler and can institute a similar offense to what helped Cutler succeed (and Jeremy Bates probably gets kept around, and Cutler likes him). The one thought running through my mind is could they find the necessary OL talent to switch for that scheme in one off-season. Under Tice, we were big, big, big. Those guys like quicker, more athletic offensive linemen.

_______

I've been pondering the defense of late. Don't get me wrong, finding a 4-3 DC is the most sensible way to go. But I've been pondering whether or not they could make a conversion to a 3-4 if a new HC wanted to (side note: I've pondered the Bears and the 3-4 off and on for close to a decade ... it's not that I have any special affinity towards the 3-4 ... under Jauron, we had 3-4 personnel with Rosy Colvin and the big ends (Daniels/Robinson), along with Traylor/Washington).

Anyhow, I think we could probably make a conversion to some sort of aggressive 3-4 1-gap type defense, akin to what the Chargers did under, um ... Manusky?, for a few years. The long term fit isn't great, but it would reduce the footspeed needed from our interior LB's (so Urlacher could be back), perhaps put McClellin in a better role as a rush backer, and allow us to move Peppers around. Paea/Toeaina are decent to solid NT options, and I think Melton could transition to a 1-gap 3-4 scheme. The problem would be finding additional bodies - Corey Wootton probably could work too as a DE in the 30 front.

Tis a thought. A 4-3 DC is still the best way to go, as the personnel is a better fit for the 4-3, but a transition to the 3-4 could probably work with the right scheme. We don't have your classic hold the edges 5-techniques, though, and it doesn't seem likely we could find enough in an offseason.

I agree that the 3-4 switch wouldn't mean certain doom. In fact, I think it would require about as much roster adjustment as changing away from a cover-2 scheme (I know they're not all cover-2).
I see Peppers and McClellin as OLB, Briggs and Urlacher/Roach inside. I think the closest thing to a 5-technique would be Wootton and Paea. You have to find a real NT to use those guys at 5, though.

I actually think Paea would be fine on the nose, with Toeaina as a backup NT. Paea's a big strong kid with a low center of gravity. Paea is definitely better as a 4-3 NT, but I don't think he fits as a 3-4 5 tech in a 1-gap (not explosive enough) or 2-gap (hard to see him holding the edge considering his size/length, or lackthereof).

Melton, at 6'3" 290ish, would be a much better fit on the edge. Wootton would need to put on some weight again, which is doable. The beauty of running a 1-gap 3-4 scheme would be that you could roll Peppers around - he could be off the edge as a rush backer, or you could have him play an attacking 5-technique role that allows him to get upfield, giving you more athleticism at LB, or an additional safety. Add in that Urlacher/Briggs inside would have less footspeed concerns, and there's positives to a switch.

Anyhow, in saying all this, the best fit is still in a 4-3, as Peppers/Paea/Melton are all better fits with their hands in the dirt.

You can log-in from the menu bar (Comment Log-In) or from the bottom right sidebar. You can log out from the bottom right as well.

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Dis cuss sucks IMO but I didn't want to say anything because it's always good to try a new approach once in awhile. I will definitely miss the take aways. But Tillman will still be here next year, no matter what, and he's still going to try to knock the ball out of hands. There's also an argument that the focus on take aways makes the Bears vulnerable against the run, since you have to focus on the take down there, instead.

Anyway, it was time for a change.

Hmmm, threaded comments albeit enabled, do not seem to be working. For fuck's sake.

Bears D never had a problem against the run, great at gap control. The only problem I ever had with the defense under Lovie was how they played with leads late in games. It was always a "bend, don't break" defense, but they were too relaxed at end of the games for some reason...case in point the devastating Seattle loss.

Sometimes they had a problem vs the run. You could see guys going after the ball when a simple tackle would have been better, but overall I'm going to miss the D. And I just kind of liked Lovie, for a variety of reasons. But the bottom line is winning, and watching the offense bordered on the excruciating this year.

Obviously, latest comments applied to the disqus comments, I'll see if I can replicate it for this.

As for Mike McCoy, I would strongly discourage hiring a guy that's riding the coat tails of QB/offensive coordinator Peyton Manning.

I don't know if McCoy is as good as his press clippings these days, but he did have a good offense with Kyle Orton, and he created an offense for Tim Tebow. So it isn't all Peyton. And I sort of like his WCO background, as I'm a believer that that style of offense is probably the best fit for Cutler.

just going to go ahead and give that credit to Josh McDaniels for Orton's "success".


As for the Tebow offense, I don't think 4th quarter miracles should be hiring criteria.

New recent comment block is up, although it doesn't quite look the same...yet

alright, gotta take a break from this...I'll continue to work on the bugs throughout the week.

reply test...okay, replies seem to work if I disable the AJAX comments. Unfortunately that means you have to reload the entire page for each comment.

Nice.

The archive of Disqus comments are still stored. But when I turned off Disqus comments, it turned them off everywhere. I'll investigate how to make them viewable.

Or we can just erase all memory of the Disqus Era. It was a sad time for all.

Happy New Years you goofy bastards!

Wish Lovie well, and I believe he will make an outstanding DC.

Lovie's success can be summed up in two players- Urlacher and Hester.

Even with all the openings I believe Bears most ideal situation with Cutler here to get best coach.

Get an offensive coach and let's get with today's NFL.

Really wouldn't surprise me if Lovie got another chance as a HC. Seems like he's akin to Jauron, a guy everyone respects and likes, and with his track record, I could see him getting a gig sooner than later. The Buffalo talk makes some sense, with the heavy emphasis they've placed on acquiring defensive assets, provided he could offer a sound offensive plan.

Wow! No Discus! Thank the TCR Gods! I can comment again! (I know many of you were waiting with bated breath;)

I had myriad problems with DITHCUS so, thank you ROB G and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

The Bears are a mess right now even with squeaking out 10 wins from their scoring defense.

I am frankly very surprised that Phil Emry was given this confidence. Historically, the Bears do NOT leave money on the table. As many note, this should have been done at the same time with Angelo. It wasn't.

I like Lovie quite a bit. But he and Angelo together made some very questionable decisions over his tenure. The new NFL is run by those who know how to leverage the tight end, move the football with the FORWARD PASS, and make adjustments quickly - as well as having a keen eye for talent that can adapt to this style. Lovie did not learn this and his loyalty to the dinosaurs who (with the exception of Rod Marinelli) couldn't succeed finally did him in. And, finally, to have a QB like Cutler without the line to protect him is inexcusable.

HELP...I CAN'T FIND THE UPVOTE BUTTON!

lulz...also, woo no discus.

^

VVV

...for those who are starved for baseball talk, Jim Callis from BA updates the order for the first two rounds of the draft and comments on where a few recently prospects rank with their newly acquired teams.

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/prospects/ask...

This better.

I'm back!

OMG I can comment again. Johann was taken with other system.

Anyway, other problem with defense at times was a refusal to adjust in game to a wide receiver torching them, as happened at times. I remember that playoff game where Steve Smith destroyed us and yet the defense was never changed.

Other problem is how obviously dependent defensive organization was on Urlacher. When he went down, the defense looked very disorganized. He might not even be with us next year but certainly not past that and we have no one really ready to take over for him, which is a GM issue more than Lovie.

In general, I blame GM a lot more than Lovie for the current situation with no offensive line and only just getting receivers this year but Lovie was also never willing to intervene with poor offensive play calling, which especially should have happened last year when Cutler was getting killed.

He's a good coach imo, but this team needs some overhaul with a whole new line and a defense that has some major pieces all close to not being with us and I can see the team wanting to go ahead and start fresh with a new coach too. Just yeah we can't do what too many teams do and swing all the way to offensive coach and neglect the defense.

Hey maybe the Bears will actually get a offensive line now. I would have fired him years ago for failing to address that glaring problem.

I still contend that there is enough talent inside and at RT that if they fix the LT issue, they should be fine. But it's time to ditch the J'Marcus Webb at LT experiment, IMO, and go search for someone better. Any offensive coordinator is limited with the amount of protection they need to give for the OL.

To be fair to Lovie, I blame a lot of the OL issues more on Jerry Angelo and his lack of OL emphasis in the draft. I think it was time to move on from Lovie, as we seemed to swing from extremes in terms of offensive systems (and I was never a big fan of Lovie canning Rivera to give his buddy Babich the DC job).

I believe that the blame is pretty equally shared between Angelo and Lovie. Lovie had gained tremendois influence in the Bears org as the years went on. The decisions to add Adam Archeletta, Martz, Tice, Rex is our Quarterback, Hester as a #1 wide-out, Babbich, lose Kyle Orton, play Todd Collins with a passer rating of 5.9 (not 59 - 5.9!), dump the best tight end they had in a long time in Greg Olson, etc., etc., was influenced by Lovie.

It was way past time for a change. But MIKE points out that indeed they are going to have to upgrade the talent evaluation and bring some strong OL help in thru draft and FA.

As Emery mentioned, two top targets they wanted to sign for OL retired, and another one resigned with their team. He knows he didn't get the job done.

Green Bay in the NFL Central is like the Cardinals to MLB. Fuckers.

Last night's Orange Bowl was an exaggerated illustration on how football games are won in the trenches. NIU somehow kept it close in the first half, despite getting absolutely demolished on the front lines, but eventually FSU just mauled them in the fourth quarter in every way as the game broke open. No matter who the Bears pick up as a coach, the O Line needs work. I love reading toonster's posts but I disagree with him a bit on the O line - it's just not been a very good one at all for a long time and I'm a huge believer that an O-line should be an elite one, not just an adequate one. Obviously, you can't have 50 pound differences between an O line and the opponents' defensive lines, as in last night's game, but a premium should be placed on O Line talent. It just opens up an offense in so many ways when holes are made and the QB is protected.

Just to be clear, I'm not saying the OL is good right now. What I am saying is that I think there's enough talent that if we upgraded at LT, the entire OL would be much better. Would it be a great, elite OL? Probably not, but it might make the difference, in the waning days of this veteran defensive core, to give the offense enough juice in the next year or so.

O and B - I guess, let's put it on a more specific level. I think I'd be okay with J'Marcus Webb at RT. Granted, there are moments where Webb looks bad against speed and power, so maybe he's simply a nice physical talent (as per Tice's perception) with a great punch, but an average OL guy, someone who lacks the instincts and footwork. All that's possible, but at RT, I think, on paper, I could live with him there. I still really like Louis inside. I can live with our other combinations inside. Heck, I think I'd still like to give Carimi some rope at RT, but I really love the idea of Carimi inside adding a power presence. Garza at center is a question mark, but overall, O and B, that's what I'm getting at - that I think the combinations for C/G/RT are solid enough and that we need and that an upgrade at LT makes things look a lot better. Furthermore, with the lack of a 2nd round pick and off the top, limited financial flexibility (I think), we're limited in the upgrades that we can make this offseason. You really only need an elite talent at LT.

One example I would point to would be the Redskins. Trent Williams greatly improved his play this year, and the entire Redskins OL looked that much better ... even though the personnel wasn't that much more improved (now, I haven't actually looked at the OL numbers that sites put out there, so that's more anecdotal evidence, maybe the Redskins OL isn't as good as I think it is).

I'm not sure what the answer is at LT. We certainly aren't getting Joeckel. The OL class in the draft is solid, but with the veteran talent, I think you try to make a move for a veteran upgrade. Jake Long would be nice, if rumors are true that Miami will part with him, but do you fork over a first? Branden Albert is probably a decent Plan B. More than likely, any move will involve our first round pick.

I know Long is kind of a lazy name to bring up, but I agree that if you go get him or another top FA LT then the rest of the pieces can fight it out.
RT - winner of Webb/Carimi/Scott
LG - winner of Brown/Spencer/Carimi/Williams

Starting Line: Long, Louis, Garza, Carimi, Scott
Backups: Webb, Brown, Williams, Spencer

Take your pick as to who's the best, but this gives you some depth that has simply not been there before. Ideally you drop one of Williams/Spencer and get a C in the draft to take over in the next year or two.

The offensive core looks pretty good with a decent line along with Cutler, Forte, Bush, Marshall, Jeffery, Bennett. Add another WR and a real TE and the personnel looks a lot better for the offense. The rest is the scheme.

Defense has some good players , but many are suited to the Cover-2 scheme and may not hold up in another defense. Interesting to see what happens here.

I read some reports from Bowen and maybe Biggs predicting 30-40% roster turnover. Can't find it now, but a lot.

Normally I'd say it's a classic problem, but not so much with the Bears. In baseball, everybody wants pitching, so these guys are at a premium and they're hard to find. I would think most football teams are also, generally, looking for solid O Line help. Except, of course, the Bears. Now they're paying a price in that they need to actually look at giving up a first round pick to get one. Luckily, it looks like Emery's eyes are opening up to this.

http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-01-01/spor...

It does seem that Emery is torn in his own mind about how to allocate his resources - playmakers vs O line, but as much as I like Cutler, he's not Aaron Rogers. He needs a better O line than he has, but he also needs a better offensive scheme, so we shall see how that plays out.

And I didn't disagree with the Jeffrey pick at all at the time. Hopefully he'll have a better year injury-wise next season, because he looks talented. So yeah, you're right, if they can address LT they'll be in much better shape. Maybe a new coaching staff will help, too. Webb, to me, should be a better player than he has been so far. He seems to have the raw tools. Carimi hasn't panned out to the be the explosive guy I thought he'd be but it would be silly to give up on him, and I'm sure they're not going to. Overall, the Lovie firing gives me hope. I liked Lovie, but it was time for a change. It shows Emery is absolutely focused on getting to the next level and I'm pretty sure he's way more qualified than I am to figure out how to do it. As long as he addresses the O Line! Haha.

Garza was awful this year. Time to stop recycling crap. They should've left him at guard, and put Spencer at center, which is where he played his first 4 seasons.
That's another Lovie thing I'm sick of....we got a linebacker..let's make him a safety..or a long snapper...he's a QB...move him to fullback.....or whatever.

I found it odd, though my brother defended him, there were over 6 false starts called on Garza. A Center. Twice in one game. How does this happen?

Garza's not good anymore. Don't think I really want him at guard either, as I think he's lost a step, and depending on scheme, we might need a more athletic guy at guard (anyways, if Webb is at RT and Carimi inside, then there really isn't another spot open at guard). I don't know if they think his value as a veteran line guy, that is, knowledgeable with the calls, is enough (and that knowledge is out the door with a potential new regime).

I don't know what the options are, though. Haven't paid attention to the interior OL class in the draft or FA, so maybe someone is there. I'm not huge on Chris Spencer at C. He was a good talent out of college, but he never showed well enough in Seattle as the starter.

but as much as I like Cutler, he's not Aaron Rogers.

He's had for worse protection and far worse playmakers for years than Aaron. At the start of the year when Aaron was getting pressured more, you saw him unable to complete any passes either. They shored up their protection and he started completing passes.

Our protection has been atrocious and the run blocking was bad too. Can't even mention all the times I saw short yardage situations with our line pushed back and unable to create any lanes, forcing Cutler to then throw in those short yardage situations.

Cutler was amazing at being able to escape pressure and make something out of nothing considering he only had one receiver to throw too this most of this year (with Jeffries being hurt) and basically no one last year. Our tight ends can't hold on to the ball, Hester despite being forced into schemes is unable to do anything with the ball, Jeffries was hurt, our line is awful all over the place (and it's not just left tackle, go back and watch tape and you'll see blocks missed all over it, especially in the center). Cutler is very, very underrated imo and because of his attitude I think is held to a standard we don't apply to any other QB.

I don't know if Culter's attitude is really in question among the guys that play with him. The guy is tough as nails, takes a real pounding, just bounces up for more. The media doesn't like him because he has that smug look on his face when he talks to them but hey, who can blame him. 3/4 of the questions he is asked are stupid.

I'm afraid that so far, the Bears have really squandered an opportunity with Cutler. Now, for the reasons you've mentioned, they are forced to figure out if they should extend him. If they don't, I doubt he returns to the Bears as a free agent.

I personally don't think the GB O line is that great, but they have more receivers who can go get the damn ball, so that always is going to help.

I want a HC that's going to take advantage of Cutler's physical ability, move him around a bit. We had Mike Martz and the 7 step. Mike Tice seemed confused at times (that first game against GB had some awfully playcalling), and then you add in the general OL issues, that was a problem. Honestly, with better playcalling, we would've had a decent shot to win both Packers games this year, IMO.

I'm really coming to wonder if Emery might consider Kyle Shanahan after the Redskins are out of the playoffs. I loved the offense he had for Schaub in Houston (and most indications were that, despite Kubiak being a former playcaller, it was Kyle's offense). He's done wonders with the Redskins offense this year, doing a really great job developing Griffin by slowly building up the amount of stuff RG3 had to do. We know his dad was/and still is (IIRC) high on Cutler.

One big advantage that Rodgers had is that he's had better playcallers. McCarthy and Clement did a wonderful job with what was a very mediocre, IMO, OT combination in Green Bay this year. They had a lot more creativity in how they used their weapons (loved Randall Cobb out of the backfield, love the movement they had with TE's). While individual OL, and namely, OT, talent is the biggest upgrade needed, upgrading our playcalling, our ability to disguise things and move things around, is a must.

Indeed, Toons, however they also have stepped into 2012 with...wait for it...

a TIGHT END THAT CAN CATCH!

The Bears do not have one of those. Well...they did, but he could not reach his potential in their neanderthal offense.

As my daughter used to say when she was five and throwing a tantrum , "STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!!".

Imo, I happen to think the Bears should also draft the best QB available in the 2nd or 3rd round who can move around a bit and has had tremendous success in college at a Division I school, and train them with a modern playbook. I don't know any longer if Cutler can take this team to the Super Bowl - and one or two more concussions may make him think about playing past 2013.

I think they were hoping for a little more out of Kellen Davis this year, but I think Emery and his new coach need to take a Theo-like approach and gut the franchise of its old ways of doing things. Davis showed enough the year before that maybe he could have been better, but I think the receiver coaching with the Bears is just not very good. Hester, Davis, two guys that come to mind that should be better than they are. I'm glad to see a new offense come in before Jeffrey ends up another coulda been.

I hear ya O & B. I was referring to Greg Olson, if I did not make that clear. Letting him go was fucking stupid. I believe that the aggragate total of TE catches for the 2012 Bears was 17.

less to do with Olsen, more to do with Martz.

his scheme rarely used the TE and needed a blocker at that position, making Olsen expendable.

can't teach hands...or brains...two things Hester lacks.

Haha, point taken

Unless I'm mistaken, they don't have a 2nd. This should be a good draft to find a QB in that 3rd-5th range, though. I do sort of agree that they need to draft a guy. I'm still a Cutler guy, but he's at the age where, the next contract is going to be costly, and they need to make a determination if he fits with whatever new regime they bring in.

I like Kellen Davis, Matt Spaeth, Kyle Adams ... as number 2 or 3 TE's. I actually think Davis is a very good number 2 TE - solid blocker, decent enough hands (that's a big qualifier), and solid athleticism. I actually think the most talented TE was idiotically moved to FB in Evan Rodriguez, but I'm not sure if Evan is a starter in this league yet (but he does have the most athleticism and probably, at least based on college, the most dynamic ability).

I don't the financial situation off the top, but with limited picks and LT being a bigger priority, I am okay with another mid-round TE.

What I really don't want, draft wise, is another damn safety. And yes, I'm a bit frustrated with all the safety picks through the decade.

They're missing a third. It was two third round picks for Brandon Marshall.

We'll agree to disagree. I think Kellen Davis has bricks for hands and has shown it with his 10 or whatever drops, taking points off the board in several cases. He does not belong on. Championship caliber team.

As a number 2 TE, though? As a starter, don't want him. He's not going to make the tough seam catches, and he's lost a step from his MSU days. But as a #2 TE, I don't have a real problem with it. Athletic, can run block, and is enough of a threat that teams can't leave him open.

That's the point, though--Davis has proven to be such a bad playmaker that defenses absolutely would leave him open and use that 11th defender to do something more worthwhile with their time.

Thank you. That was my point.

Fixed the "Recent Comments" sidebar so it only displays the first 600 characters of the last 16 comments, unfortunately there's no indication if there's more to the comment, but clicking on "view" will get you the rest.

At the bottom of the sidebar is a "more" link, that will go to a page that has the last 50 comments in their entirety.

Love having new comments back. Previously I would wait until the number of comments topped out (or for a new thread) and then go read them all.

I just use the sidebar now, saves a lot of clicking and reloading.

b.myers is joining the indians and he's going to transfer back to the rotation. leave it to HOU to make the mistake to take him out of their rotation to begin with. even if he "only" throws 150-ish IP they're still "only" paying $7m.

Jim Callis/Baseball America tweet...

@davidrelliott: Cubs in 9-12, 13-16, 17-20, or none of the above for system rank?

I have them at 12, little higher than rest of staff.

Mildly surprised that that is considered a bit higher than the rest. I though tthey would for sure be in that 10-15 range.

I want a configurable color for the "new" text. The red is a bit too harsh for my eyes.

AZ PHIL: Happy New Year! Thanks for updating the Depth Chart for us. I notice you have Edwin Maysonet behind Castro at SS, not Barney who was a solid SS at Oregon.

You have opined on him previously, but its been a while.

What do you make of him and do you really think he'll make the club out of ST?

E-MAN: Happy New Year!

Players are only listed once on the DEPTH CHART, and it's the player's projected "primary position" going into Spring Training. 

In the case of Darwin Barney, he would probably slide over to SS if something happened to Starlin Castro, but his primary position on the DEPTH CHART right now is the Cubs starting 2B.   

Edwin Maysonet's primary position on the DEPTH CHART (right now) is the Cubs #2 SS, although he will actually be competing for the Cubs back-up utility INF gig (SS-2B-3B) in Spring Training, and he will likely eventually compete with Alberto Gonzalez for the AAA back-up utility infielder job at Iowa.

Minor league transactions

Chicago Cubs
Signed:
RHP Zach Putnam (non-tendered and re-signed)

They were able to resign Jaye Chapman too.

and the World Series roster is complete.

COL (both AAA and very limited majors) was killing his slider. It's a bit slow to begin with (very low 80s), but it might as well have been a crappy changeup with the lack of break in COL.

i like the upside on this one. he could be this year's M.Bowden (though for different reasons...and with only 2 pitches).

To non-tender a player on 12/2 (moved up to 11/30 in 2012 because 12/2 fell on a Sunday) and then subsequently re-sign the player to a minor league contract is a great way to remove a player from a club's MLB 40-man roster without having to place the player on waivers and risk losing him to another club.

Of course the player has to agree (in advance) to the maneuver (usually a nominal pay raise plus an NRI to Spring Training will get it done), and the club also needs to wait until after the conclusion of the Rule 5 Draft to "officially" re-sign the player so that the player can't be selected by another club in the Rule 5 Draft.

 

I presume Lendy is the next DFA candidate when Villanueva signing is official...or possibly the Ian Stewart scenario AZ Phil has been mentioning.


Prefer a T. Wood trade myself....figuring Raley and Rusin don't get you anything in return.

very thorough rundown of a Theo interview on WEEI

http://www.bleachernation.com/2013/01/03/theo-epstein-speaks-organizatio...

re: the RSox/LAD trade... "Everyone talked about the money, but not enough about the talent the Red Sox got."

along with the MIA/TOR trade it showed that you can use your money to take a risk on players while not be handicapped by being locked into keeping them. there seems to be a lot less risk involved as long as they're not getting no-trades. as long as they're not hobbled 35+ year old players it seems there's a team out there that's interested in having them.

I thought one of the more interesting aspects of that interview was Theo's discussion on the limited impact of having payroll flexibility. Nothing new there, but he points out how every team has money to spend these days.

well everyone but the Rays and A's.

Here's the weei writeup on the Theo interview. The Bleacher Nation is more detailed and more Cub focused. Obviously WEEI only wrote about the RedSox based part of the interview.

http://www.weei.com/print/250831

here is the audio link to the Theo interview on WEEI:

http://audio.weei.com/a/69448610/theo-epstein-says...

the scott feldman kool-aid is still very very weird to me...especially how championed he is by some stats guys.

being a low-flyball pitcher can only take you so far when your stuff is so damn hittable...especially weird given his home/road splits the past few years.

also, some of those WAR projections are...interesting...especially at 2nd/3rd/CF.

ex-cub whoring news.

"Yankees claimed INF/OF Russ Canzler off waivers from the Indians.
Canzler has now gone from the Indians to the Blue Jays back to the Indians and now to the Yankees in the span of two weeks."

Canzler has now gone from the Indians to the Blue Jays back to the Indians and now to the Yankees in the span of two weeks
---
Russ wins the coveted Sandy Rosario award for 2013.

---
Rosario started the 2012 season at the Marlins' Triple-A affiliate New Orleans Zephyrs and later pitched in four games for Miami, yielding six runs in three innings over four relief appearances. He was sent back down to the minors. After not receiving a September callup, Rosario was claimed by the Boston Red Sox on waivers on Oct. 17, 2012. On November 20, Rosario was designated for assignment along with 4 others. On November 28, 2012, he was traded to the Oakland Athletics. He was claimed off waivers by the Boston Red Sox on December 10, 2012, and then again by the Chicago Cubs on December 12. On December 20, he was claimed off waivers yet again. This time by the San Francisco Giants.

wow...not only has ARod not had his surgery yet...he's not even scheduled it yet.

neat.

wow...not only has ARod not had his surgery yet...he's not even scheduled it yet.
---
I don't quite get that either but I've read that the delay is because ARod's orthopod wanted him to work on hip strength to get to a certain level before the surgery is performed. They do that often with acute ACL tears. That makes sense to me because of the swelling in an acute ACL injury and the surgery when it used to be done right away often left patients with a stiff knee because of the double hit from the injury and the surgical trauma making early rehab really difficult. Techniques are much less invasive for ACL's these days but they still wait a few weeks until the swelling from the injury is minimal and the knee strength is better.

I don't know how that applies to ARod though. From what I read the hip he's getting surgery on wasn't painful, it was just weak. Plus he's had previous hip arthroscopic surgery (although I'm not sure if it's the same hip or the other side).

Lastly, hip arthroscopic surgery is still in very early stages. It's new enough that there is no long term data on whether these labral repairs really prevent long term problems such as arthritis. Most of the patients these days are fairly high performance athletes who get referred to a limited circle of docs that have developed some expertise in hip arthroscopy. The knee is a much more commonly operated on joint and the technology has been evolving for 30 years now, with the knee arthroscopic tools evolving since the early 1980's. The shoulder arthroscopic techniques developed later in the 1990's and each joint has has specific tools developed to perform various procedures but the tools develop over time as creative ideas lead to improved technology. The hip arthroscopic techniques are at most in the 5 yr range. When they start working on new techniques they usually use the tools from other joints (knee/shoulder) but over time new tools are coming into play for the hip scopes. It's a much more difficult joint to access because it's deeper and surrounded by more musculature in every direction. The hip arthroscopic surgery needs a traction table and available X-Ray equipment to access more of the joint

I might do a writeup on this but I don't think any Cub has had a hip scope to date, which is why I've not covered it yet. I'd be interested if someone knows of a Cub that has had his hip scoped though..

it's the other side of his hip + his ortho supposedly wanted him to strengthen it before surgery. when the news was broken in early Dec he had supposedly known about it for a couple of weeks and he was expected to have it done after the new year's.

i doubt he's on any surgeon's 3-week waiting list, but i'm a bit surprised he hasn't figured out when he's having it done, yet.

no arod, no swisher...and supposedly they're looking to shift granderson to avoid the luxury tax threshold. b.gardner is a good option (as well as ichiro) for CF, but the power outage would be "woah" with all 3 gone. ...more like lacking woah, and bringing them closer to reality, though. =p they still got some power in there.

Olney reporting JP Howell (age 29 but he missed all of 2010 due to shoulder surgery) goes to the Dodgers at $3M/1yr. Supposedly the Nats were hot to sign Howell.

I wonder who gets DFA'd from their 40 man? Oh, wait...didn't they just pay the commissioners office for 10 more roster spots for just $10M per? Do the Dodgers have a 50 man roster or did Magic Johnson just rule that the overflow of the Dodgers talent can go to the Continental Association (not to be confused with the their ability to work around the CBA).

Actually, he's replacing 37 yr old Randy Choate in a lefty slot for their bullpen. Choate signed a $7.5M/3 yr deal with the Cardinals and that is also one of the more perplexing offseason signings because of the length of that contract. Which sends echo's of Stevie Eyre signing with the Cubs.I had no idea that Choate was a Dodger last year but do remember him as a Marlin.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=2227664

...and Howell's wife wrote the book, "The Adventures of Dangles"

http://heatherhennessyhowell.tateauthor.com/about-...

Really think that the Orioles/Nats match up well for a trade. If the Nats get LaRoche signed, they could send Morse out for some pen help (Matusz?) and prospects. Either way, the Nats do need some pen help, losing Burnett to FA.

Jon Heyman‏@JonHeymanCBS

#cubs sign dontrelle willis to minor-league deal

BOOM.

Cubs sign D-Train to a minor league deal. The lefty comes home.

https://twitter.com/JonHeymanCBS/status/2873882710...

On March 27, 2002, the Cubs traded Willis (then a minor leaguer), fellow pitchers Julián Tavárez and José Cueto, and catcher Ryan Jorgensen to the Florida Marlins, in exchange for pitchers Matt Clement and Antonio Alfonseca

On December 5, 2007, the Marlins traded Willis along with fellow All-Star Miguel Cabrera to the Detroit Tigers for Andrew Miller, Cameron Maybin, Mike Rabelo, Eulogio de la Cruz, Dallas Trahern and Burke Badenhop.

lefty with no control that throws 87mph...nice!

so much for retirement.

This format is great...just sayin.

l.berkman TEX deal imminent...supposedly vesting option for 2014 with 550+ ab.

it's practically a given he'll be the DH. this should keep m.moreland at 1st and almost assuredly make m.olt trade bait.

fwiw, j.upton (ARZ) is still linked as a possible trade candidate to TEX.

Nick Cafardo's Sunday notes...

http://bostonglobe.com/sports/2013/01/04/for-baseb...

(also, Rob...somehow commenting isn't available on Tim's latest post, not sure what caused that)

“We’re certainly farther along than we were last year at this time,” said Epstein. “When we got here, we identified one core player [Starlin Castro] and now we can look around and see Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney, Jeff Samardzija , and others. We do have more positional prospects than pitchers, so we felt Jackson will be with us for many years to come.”

...matt garza...sigh.

fwiw, it seems likely matt garza could be the top (definitely one of the top) FA pitcher next year so he may be pricing himself out of what the cubs would like to pay in negotiations. still...sigh...

Edit, comment ended up blank

Az Phil

Any idea as to how the Kane County team will look to open the season? I'm itching to get out there to some games since I moved to Naperville.

Here's my guess at the lineup until the great one chimes in:

IF: Vogelbach, Amaya, Hernandez, Candelario
OF: Trey Martin, Almora, Reggie Golden (though Soler here would be pretty sexy)
C: Wilson Contreras

As things stand now (subject to what happens in Minor League Camp)...


KANE COUNTY COUGARS


Projected 2013 Opening Day roster/lineup


* bats or throws left # bats both


LINEUP:
Gioskar Amaya, 2B
Albert Almora, CF
# Marco Hernandez, SS
* Dan Vogelbach, 1B-DH
# Jeimer Candelario, 3B
* Rock Shoulders, LF-1B-DH
Steve Bruno, DH-2B-SS-3B-LF-CF-RF
Wilson Contreras, C-1B-3B-LF-RF-DH
Trey Martin, RF-CF
NOTE: Bruno could start season at EXST if he is converted to catcher, in which case another catcher (either Yaniel Cabezas or Sergio Escobar) would probably take his roster slot until conclusion of EXST. Also, Reggie Golden will likely spend first two months of season as DH at EXST while rehabbing from 2012 knee surgery (two torn ligaments), then he'll probably be assigned to either KC or Daytona (wherever he can DH).


BENCH:
* Sergio Burruel, C
* Wes Darvill, SS-2B-3B
Yasiel Balaguert, RF-LF


STARTING ROTATION:
Juan Carlos Paniagua
Pierce Johnson
Tayler Scott
Jose Arias
Justin Amlung


BULLPEN:
Eddie Orozco (co-closer)
* Nathan Dorris (co-closer)
Mike Hamann
* Michael Heesch
Steve Perakslis
Carlos Martinez (piggy-back/long-relief)
Felix Pena (piggy-back/long-relief)
James Pugliese (piggy-back/long-relief)


And here is the projected 2013 Opening Day roster/lineup for the DAYTONA CUBS:


LINEUP:
# Zeke DeVoss, 2B
Tim Saunders, DH-SS-2B-3B-LF-CF-RF
Javier Baez, SS
Jorge Soler, RF
Paul Hoilman, 1B-DH
Dustin Geiger, 3B-1B
Chadd Krist, C
Taiwan Easterling, LF-CF
* Pin-Chieh Chen, CF


BENCH:
Anthony Giansanti, RF-LF-3B-1B-C
* Rafael Lopez, C
* Bijan Rademacher, RF-LF
NOTE: It's possible that Rademacher could get converted to LHP at EXST, in which case Oliver Zapata would probably be the D-Cubs "4th OF". Also, Reggie Golden could be moved up to Daytona after conclusion of EXST


STARTING ROTATION:
Ben Wells
Michael Jensen
Marcelo Carreno
Yao-Lin Wang
Jose Rosario
NOTE: RHP Starling Peralta was selected by AZ in Rule 5 Draft, and if he does not make Diamondbacks MLB 25-man roster and gets returned to Cubs he will almost certainly be in Daytona starting rotation, in which case either Wang or Rosario would move to bullpen and be co-closer with Suarez


BULLPEN:
Larry Suarez (closer)
Luis Liria
* Sheldon McDonald
Austin Reed
Zach Cates (piggy-back/long-relief)
P. J. Francescon (piggy-back/long-relief)
Joe Zeller (piggy-back/long-relief)
NOTE: Zach Cates, Su-Min Jung, and Hayden Simpson will probably compete for last slot in the D-Cubs bullpen, with the other two getting released.

Shit, son.

Cubs minor league teams are going to mash for a few years until some of these high-ceiling bats graduate to the MLB or to levels where they cannot dominate. I'd hate to have to take the mound against Kane County, especially.

Thanks PHIL.

I was wondering if you had ever seen the ill-fated, and stupid (but supposedly extremely talented) Ben Christensen pitch? As I recall, Big Ed and McFail chose him in the first round and he was touted as "The Goods". That draft was pretty spectacular with pitchers like Zito, Beckett, and (no)Sheets. And - Josh Hamilton, pre-addict perhaps.

I know he would have spent some time out your way, so was just curious as there ain't much else goin' on.

Thanks!

i never saw him pitch, but followed him. he went from a low-mid 90s fastball to barely being able to throw mid-80s by the time he was released. he was starting to show he was worth something until he got injured in 2000...he returned with severely diminished velocity and lost the control he gained in the 2000 season...along with on/off injuries that kept him performing regularly.

Wow. Thanks. I know he got his ass sued as well as disgraced for life.

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