November 2011

(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.

Pitchers Marco Carrillo and Justin Berg will be back in the Cubs 0rganization next year, as two more post-2011 Rule 55 Minor League Free-Agents have re-signed with the Cubs.

Pre-holiday musings while waiting for some real news about PLAYING personnel:

•Due to overcrowding in the front office the saber-squad works out of the Wrigley Field scoreboard. You know, inside the numbers.

•Prince Fielder re-ups with the Brewers and gives them a substantial hometown discount now that Sveum is finally gone.

•Sveum’s brother, Sven, joins the team as a rowing [pronounced roving] instructor.

•Alfonso Soriano finally goes to the wall on a ball and gets lost in the ivy. After the search is called off the team schedules “burn the contract night.” The first 10,000 through the turnstiles get facsimiles of Soriano’s contract and matches with which to light them during the 7th inning stretch.

•During Miami’s first visit to Wrigley Carlos Zambrano defects to the visiting clubhouse where Ozzie Guillen grants him asylum. Negotiations lead to the Marlins’ sending Andre Dawson back to the Cubs as compensation.

•Theo does away with the celebrity sing-alongs in favor of medleys performed by him, Hoyer and Wayne Messmer. Besides “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” repertoire includes old Lettermen and Kingston Trio hits like “Shangri-La,” “Greenback Dollar” and “Hang Down Your Head, Mike Quade.”

•Sandberg is hired as Sveum’s understudy and later suspended when he tests positive for HPH (Human Personality Hormone) after knocking a few jokes out of the park in meetings with the beat writers. Quade is heard somewhere saying, “&%$@#* Sandy!”

•Change the Culture Night features espresso flowing from the taps and in the dugout water coolers in twin spirits of urgency and hustle. 11 Cub base stealers thrown out, including Bryan LaHair trying to stretch a HBP into a double.

•Cubs begin selling “gull safari” packages as a new revenue stream, allowing fans the chance to shoot birds from the bleachers after daytime home games.

•Team finishes out of the money in Year One but Hoyer does win the MLB General Managers’ Fantasy League with no Cubs on his roster.

Have a great Thanksgiving everybody. Never thought I'd say this but, GO PACKERS!

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...

In a recent Paul Sullivan Tribune article, Cubs new GM Jed Hoyer was asked what are the greatest needs short term to fix the roster. Hoyer said, "It's no secret we need to get some depth in the rotation. Depth in pitching hurt the team last year." To complete the quote: "We have to find a way to improve the defense, and we probably need to find a little more athleticism on the bases." Improving the defense, of course, will help the pitching (which might be as simple as including more pfp/pitcher fielding practice for Matt Garza).

We all recall the 2011 season started with significant pitching injuries to the starting staff. After one week the Cubs lost their number 4 and 5 starters.

Where is this leading? Baseball Prospectus' Corey Dawkins just ranked the NL Central using their metric for team/player injuries called T.A.W.L (Total Adjusted WARP Lost). More after the jump...

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.

If you're a "South Park" fan, hopefully you get a laugh here.
Yeah, the collective dislike and bashing of Cub Suit Crane Kenney is pretty old news, but this cartoon just popped in my head.
Of course, it would be awesome if this gif had an accompanying story about Kenney actually being dismissed or moving on, but that didn't happen.

What's really going on?

Why, the Cubs will interview Mike Maddux for their manager job.
Lets see what happens...

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.

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