Cubs News

Some quick hits...

- Frankly, i have no idea what effect this has on anything, but the Cubs are one of three teams to have opted out of the MLB/StubHub agreement that was recently renewed. I imagine tickets for Wrigley will still be available on StubHub, but not in some official capacity. I also imagine the Ricketts didn't like seeing tickets going for $2 on game day on StubHub that still cost $20 or more if you purchased from MLB.com.

- Jason Grilli ended up officially resigning with the Pittsburg Pirates today, although it was rumored last week that would be the case.  It was claimed he had a better offer that he turned down to return to Pittsburgh, which may or may not have been the Cubs offer.

This all seems still seems a little less than 100%, but there was a report early in the evening from the Tribune and Dave van Dyck saying the Cubs are "expected" to sign Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler according to "multiple reports" from the Dominican (it's more fun if you read that with air quote hand gestures).  The folks at Cub Hub seemed to have heard from the Score confirming the deal. Kevin Goldstein has no reason not to believe the reports, saying Soler's agent made similar agreements with other players he's represented before they offiicially became available to sign. Soler of course has yet to complete the legal gymnastics that Cespedes had to go through, so any confirmation from the Cubs is probably not going to come anytime in the near future. One report is suggesting a 3-4 year deal in the $27.5M range. The difference in that deal to Cespedes is that Soler would not get the clause in his contract where the club would not offer arbitration or auto-renew him once the deal is completed, meaning he'd be under the Cubs control for 6 full years of major league service time which doesn't start until he makes his major league debut. Once the initial contract runs out, he'd either sign a new one or just default to either pre-arbitration or arbitration depending on where he's at with his service time, similar to what Jeff Samardzija is going through right now.

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I was trying to get my prospect list-mania article up and then Firefox ate half my work. I'll save it for a future date. In the meantime, now that the A's have signed outfielder Yoenis Cespedes to a 4/$36M deal, I'm comfortable calling him totally overrated. Jorge Soler is the real prize of the Cuban "draft class" and the guy the Cubs should be pursuing. I'm kidding around of course, Cespedes would have been a nice get for the Cubs, but it was not meant to be. The latest report was that the Cubs were now stepping up their pursuit of Soler with a number of $27.5M being thrown out there to try and land him. That report is from the same guy that said Marlins were the clear frontrunner for Cespedes as of yesterday, so salt meet grain. Of course, if I understand this correctly, Soler hasn't been declared eligible yet nor established residency, so certainly more teams will be rumored to be involved once that all falls in line. The last I heard on the timetable was to expect something around the start of the season.

Baseball Prospectus put up their top 101 major league prospects. On the topic of Soler, Goldstein says he'd rank him #38/#39 depending if you count Cespedes as a prospect. As for the Cubs, Brett Jackson at #44, Javier Baez at #66 and Anthony Rizzo at #75. Former Cub Hak-Ju Lee at #65 on his list.

Thanks for all the feedback on the survey over the weeked, a lot of good ideas in there and a lot of nice complements as well.

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(thanks to aaronb for the headline, now enough with the jokes)

The Cubs shortstop phenom Starlin Castro has been accused of sexual assaulting a woman last fall. The event occurred on September 29th, right after the Cubs season ended and Castro flew back to the Dominican Republic.

(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.

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.

The Tennesee Smokies lost in the Southern League championship yesterday and the Mobile Bay Bears take the series 3-1. The upside for two members was a call-up to the Show to watch the other Cubs players over the last 10 days of the season. Congrats and here's your steak knives.

This is one of those times I wish I could adjust the headline size so it could fill the whole front page.

Anyway, ninja Hendry finally bit the bullet as Ricketts wasn't kidding when he said a major announcement was coming. Hendry says he was informed as of July 22nd that he wouldn't be retained for next year.

"He never missed a beat; it's a credit to his character that we were able to operate the way we did and get the job done," Ricketts said. "We had the trade deadline coming up and I didn't think it made any sense to change horses in mid-stream."

Followed by this little quip...

Hendry, 56, said Cubs Chairman notified him July 22 that he wouldn't be retained. He indicated that was one factor in deciding not to trade away veteran players at the deadline, figuring he should leave those decisions to his successor.

That, along with just naming Randy Bush as the interim sort of defeats the whole purpose of keeping him an extra month, but who am I to question the reasonings of billionaires.

I can't find a good link for this, but it's all over the twitter-sphere that Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild has accepted a 3-year deal to join the Yankees in the same capacity. Allegedly the motivation, besides the Cubs sinking ship, is his family and the Yankees training in Tampa where he resides.

So the quest begins and the first name to come up will be Greg Maddux. I think almost all Cubs fans would want that and probably Cubs management. But from what I've read, Maddux is more interested in an upper management role eventually and isn't all to eager to take on the responsibility of a major league traveling schedule quite so soon. I'm sure some names will come up soon enough, but I'd love to see Maddux's old coach Leo Mazzone get the gig.

The other news is the Cubs added pitchers Chris Archer, Kyle Smit and Alberto Cabrera along with outfielder Brandon Guyer to their 40-man roster. And Hoff-power cleared waivers and will indeed be a Ham Fighter.

- Despite the claims of the Illinois speaker of the House that the bond deal was dead, Tom Ricketts is pushing forward with union leaders in hand about how the Wrigley improvement project will do magnificent things for everyone. The drawings sure are pretty.

- The same link has Hendry's annual offseason quote that the trade market looks good this offesason.

- At cubs.com, Hendry says a lot without saying anything about first base. He does seem to indicate they'll take their time since there are so many options which is code for going on the cheap. He also indicates that adding pitching depth (relievers and starters) is the focus so don't expect any big names, if for some reason you were. Looks like the Cubs are gonna be dumpster diving this offseason for players, which certainly can work out...or not.

- Heyman says the Cubs and just about the entire National League isn't very interested in Adam Dunn.

- Harry Caray's in Wrigleyville is closing down, bad mojo between the resteraunt and landlord. They are seeking another Wrigleyville location.

- The BP Cup - given to the winner each year of the Cubs vs. White Sox interleague series - earned the honor of one of the lamest sport trophies...well done everyone involved.

BONUS LINK: Jayson Stark has his take on the Cubs and that take is that Mike Quade can turn water into wine.


How much difference did Quade make? Well, the Cubs went 24-16 in the 40 games he managed -- after going 24-42 over the final 66 games Lou Piniella managed. And the changes didn't just show up in the standings.

Scouts who followed the Cubs said they saw young players and the bullpen crew, in particular, relax and perform without the high-strung Piniella around. And Fukudome was also a different guy, hitting .277/.390/.482 (with more walks than strikeouts) from Aug. 20 on -- after hitting .258/.365/.425 before that.

He goes on to say that Hendry isn't all that motivated to move  Fukudome and Carlos Zambrano now because of the work of Jesus Quade, or at least the improvement seen under Jesus Quade's leadership. Stark also echoes that it's Dunn's glovework, or lack thereof, that is going to keep him out of Chicago and the Cubs would like someone that is an "above-average defender" to chase down all of Castro's bad throws.

(pounds fist on keyboards, feigns anger over Cubs rumored thought process)

- BONUS JAPAN NEWS: Micah Hoffpauir has signed a deal with the Nippon Ham Fighters. How the hell he didn't become an Oriole, I'll never know. And if you missed the news, Scott Moore is back in the Cubs organization after his tour of duty with the team that Ripken built (and MacPhail is trying to destroy).

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Some day olds news for everyone...

Muskat Round-up

- Hendry flew out to Arizona yesterday to interview Ryne Sandberg for the manager's job in 2011. I like to imagine that hiring the owners choice in Sandberg is the only way Hendry keeps his job, but I've been surprised before.

- Tyler Colvin is out of the hospital and back home in South Carolina after surviving the Flying Bat of Death.

- Tom Gorzelanny will pitch Friday against the Cardinals with Coleman and Samardzija pitching the other 2 games. Carlos Silva is still attempting to make one more start before the season ends. I hear the starting pitcher gets to go first for the post-game spread.

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The Cubs aren't doing much but a couple of nifty P.R. moves before the Cubs convention. The first is a rumor that if Cooperstown puts Andre Dawson in as a Cub, the Cubs will likely retire his number 8.

Dawson has been promised by the Cubs to have his No. 8 uniform number retired if he goes into the Hall of Fame as a Cub, a source close to Dawson said on Sunday.

The articles do say that if he goes in as an Expo, they still might do it, but it appears if it's as a Cub, it's a certainty. And this is where I unpopularly wonder out loud why they're going to retire Dawson's number in either case? I say he should be lining up behind Sammy Sosa, Mark Grace and even Rick Sutcliffe before getting his number retired, as all are far more identifiable with the Cubs than Dawson in my not-so-humble opinion (and no Sutcliffe should not get his number retired). And if Dawson is the Cub standard for getting a number retired, Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez might as well send out their  "set-the-date" cards for their eventual ceremonies.

*historical footnote at end of the post

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- Nick Steiner takes a look at Milton Bradley using Pitch F/X data and comes away impressed.

The fact that Bradley has such a bad year - and it wasn't even that bad
- can be placed solely on a huge drop in ISO from his previously
established norms. His plate discipline and contact skills were just as
good as they were in 08 and the year before that, and there is no
evidence that the drop in ISO is anything "real". Despite the
personality problems, teams are apparently lining up to try and steal
Bradley away from Jim Hendry because he is still a very good player.

You'll make no friends around here Mr. Steiner with that sort of reasoned analysis.

- Speaking of Bradley, he makes MLBTR's list of bad contracts along with Soriano and Aaron Miles. All the hype to date has been that the Cubs will have to take on one of those (or something similar) to move Bradley.

- Bruce Miles says the Cubs should pass on Gary Matthews Jr. and responds to my inquiry in the comments that there are indeed clubs interested in Bradley.

- Bruce Levine concurs with Chris DeLuca that a payroll around $140M for 2010 should be expected and save up for another ticket price increase. He also says the Cubs are in talks with "Tampa, Toronto and three or four other clubs with players with big contracts that they would like to move."

- Dave Cameron at Fangraphs is thinking about bad contracts as well and suggests a ratings bonanza would follow a GM summit where each team brought one bad contract and threw them into a pile. Then each team picks one from the pile and has to go home with it in what he has dubbed Bad Contract White Elephant.

- The Ricketts family are the new official owners of the Chicago Cubs and will have a press conference on Friday. Maybe they'll bring a new GM with them.

 "My family and I are thrilled that this day has finally come and
we thank Commissioner Bud Selig and Major League Baseball owners for
approving our ownership," said Tom Ricketts. "Now we will go to work
building the championship tradition that all Cubs fans so richly
deserve.  

- It's hard to tell how much is Chris DeLuca taking educated guesses or basing his column off some sources, but he seems to expect much of the same for the next two years with Ricketts in charge. Certainly don't expect a big jump in payroll (he throws out $143M) and Hendry isn't getting a blank check to rid himself of the Bradley mess.

Alright, here's my half-ass plan for the next few weeks...try to get one of those offseason target posts up sometime in the morning and then some type of quick notes/news of the moment update in the afternoon or early evening if there's enough news out there and if Phil doesn't have an update from Arizona. I will inevitably fail at keeping up that pace...

- Naples, Florida is making their run at the Cubs to be their new home for spring training.

The Cubs’ 25-year lease with the city of Mesa expires in 2016. However,
the team has an escape clause, allowing them to pay $4.2 million to the
city next spring in order to leave Mesa in 2012.

That's a pretty well-done and detailed article at the link, so I encourage everyone to check it out. I will say while it's probably better for many Chicago residents, who I know would prefer the shorter trip to Florida, it would likely mean the demise of Arizona Phil here at TCR, so suck it up and write a letter to Ricketts that you want the Cubs to stay in Arizona. 

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