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Surprise: there’s plenty more to discuss about the Cubs’ almost-definitely-soon-to-be-GM-or-maybe-President-well-Dude-we-just-don’t-know, Theo Epstein, later this morning. For now, the rest of what’s going on in the Cubs’ world…

  • Sigh. So, the Cardinals won the NLCS last night, and have empowered Cardinals fans to be intolerable douches for at least another two years. A World Series victory extends that another two years. You can’t get here quickly enough, Mr. Epstein. Oh, have a mentioned that I love the Texas Rangers? Love ‘em. I will do lines off of Josh Hamilton’s forearms if they sweep the Cardinals (except not really, because that would be kind of insensitive).
  • Increasingly, pundits are becoming convinced that Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish will be posted this Winter, and, if some team ponies up, will be a MLB pitcher come 2012. I previously wrote a bit on Darvish and wondered whether the Cubs should go after him if he becomes available. My conclusion at the time: kick the tires, and if his cost averages out to $10 to $13 million per year, you’ve really got to think hard about it. If Darvish is posted, and the new sheriff is in town, I do expect the Cubs to at least see what’s what. He’s 25, has ace potential, and those guys don’t just become available every year. On the other hand, he’s thrown a crazy amount of innings in his young life, and Japanese stars don’t always translate here in the States. It’s a tough call, and that’s why, as is usually the case, it comes down to the money.
  • Some of the Cubs’ top prospect continue to tear it up in the Arizona Fall League. Chris Carpenter struck out five of the six batters he faced on Saturday (Sunday was an off-day), Junior Lake went 3-5 with a homer, and DJ LeMahieu also went 3-5. For the season, Lake has a .333/.400/.639 line with three homers (tied for second in the league) and seven stolen bases (leads the league). Josh Vitters’ line is .405/.425/.649, good for the 11th best OPS in the league (yeah, it’s a crazy offensive league), but he’s got more at bats than anyone ahead of him.
  • AFL schadenfreude? Bryce Harper is currently hitting .111/.172/.185. I doubt he’s blowing too many kisses these days.
  • From another Winter league, Bryan LaHair is destroying the Venezuelan Winter League to the tune of a 1.482 OPS and a league-leading four homers.
  • Despite reports to the contrary, Richard Justice says the Astros’ sale is not all sewn up. Justice believes MLB remains uncomfortable with prospective owner Jim Crane’s past, including allegations of racism and sexism. In case you wonder why I keep bringing up the Astros’ sale, it remains, perhaps, the only vehicle by which MLB can accomplish realignment, which would have a directly beneficial impact on the Cubs. So, like, this is a big deal. The owners’ meetings are in mid-November, and Crane’s agreement to purchase the Astros expires November 30.
  • Kyle

    Have to pass on Darvish, imo. The Cubs still aren’t in a position to be taking big risks in free agency. When we got some true stars out of our farm system in their cost-controlled years (Castro looks like he’s closing in on that status, but not yet), we can afford to start throwing our money around on risky, high-reward guys like Darvish.

  • JP

    Is it too early to start hoping for Epstein to be finalized and sign Fielder before the World Series starts? I guy can dream can’t he….

    I also think if anyone will be a bit gunshy on signing the next BIG thing from overseas I think Epstein will proceed with caution because DMat was also the next big thing

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Dreams, of course, are permitted. But signing free agents before the World Series, however, is not. :)

      Free agency doesn’t open until five days after the World Series (which is actually considerably sooner than it used to be (15 days last year)).

  • Cliffy

    Nothing new to report on from the two Boston radio stations. Too much football talk.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Thanks, Cliffy – today’s Theo post is going up now.

  • Andy

    I wouldn’t even offer $12-$14 mil to Darvish. The payroll on top of the posting fee would make him the next Daisuke. Japanese players very rarely translate to the same level of talent in MLB. Ichiro is the only player that comes to mind that was even close. If AAAA players can go to Japan and be awesome, it makes you wonder what you’re getting with Japanese players.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      $12 to $14 million total cost, though, you’d have to consider.

      • Spencer

        I think Epstein coming actually makes it LESS likely they make an offer to Darvish….bad Daisuke memories for Theo.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Interesting point, though, again – I think the money is the thing. He won’t feel that former burn simply because it’s a Japanese pitcher who is being posted. He’s a pragmatic dude – if the price is right and the scout’s are telling him the right things, I think he’d kick the tires like any other player.

  • JP

    So far as FA quality starting pitching it’s not a big class correct? So if CC Sabathia opts out of his deal I wonder if we would make a run at him? Seems like that’s going to be one of our many weak points next year.

  • Vinestal

    Brett can you point me toward a good article about realignment? I haven’t seen much press about it. All I’ve seen is talk about how they might move the Astros to the AL, which seems to make little sense to me since Texas already has an AL team. What else would happen if they do that, does the NL central stay the same minus 1 team?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yes, it evens all divisions at five, and squares the leagues 15-15. I’m not aware of a good article explaining how scheduling would work (most assume it would require interleague play throughout the year), but the players want it to happen and MLB wants it to happen. They’re trying to include it in this round of collective bargaining discussions for implementation in the 2013 season. That’s just about all there is to know right now.

  • Bails17

    Here’s the deal….if you go after more than one (I think we will go after Fielder hard) big name free agent….you go after 4 or 5.  No reason to sign 2 big names as this will not help us compete in 2012.  If you go after Darvish and Fielder….you might as well go big.

    It will all depend on if we could land someone the brass feels is a real difference maker….like CC or something like that.  Then you sign CC, Fielder, Darvish, and even Reyes or Rollins.  Who knows.  But….don’t go somewhere in between.  Will not do any good

  • JP

    Yeah I agree Bails17. Go big or go home, last offseason we definitely went in between and look where that got us. Signed Pena to a backloaded $10 mill deal that made him harder to deal later as well as traded for Garza for a handful of decent prospects.

  • Vinestal

    maybe I’m in the minority but I don’t see Theo going after any of the big name free agents this offseason. I think he’s going to spend this offseason getting his front office in order and restructuring everything the way he wants it, hiring scouts, coaches managers ect. I think he’ll see this team isn’t going to be competitive this year with or without Fielder, and he’ll save his budget to upgrade the pitching significantly next year. I’m not a big proponent of signing Fielder or Pujols because both are prone to break down over the length of the long contracts they are asking for. Pujols because of age and Fielder because he’s gonna be having weight issues that will eventually effect his legs/back in the coming years.

  • LouCub

    Guys the Cubs aren’t in a position YET and I stress YET to go after big name starters in Free Agency..Plus both Darvish and CC both have thrown a huge # of innings and a red light should go off there, CC’s been around awhile and not in really great shape..If Dempster picks up his option this year, i’d try really hard to deal him to a playoff caliber team looking for a solid #3 and try to pry some young arms loose like we should have done with Marmol to the Rangers at the deadline..I think the Cubs are going to be in the market for young near ready starting pitching.Hopefully McNutt can crack the rotation this spring too.

  • al

    reyes NNNNNNOOOOOOOOO>>> hes a douche…..not a team player …please please noooooooooooo!!

  • kansas cubs fan

    With the money and years Fielder will want hes going to be Soriano number two, let him go to the AL where he belongs.

    As for starting pitching try to trade Zambeano +13-14mil and Soto to the Marlins for Anibal Sanchez!
    That way Ozzie, Zambrano, And Soto can be together in florida, and we get a good starter and a chance for our young catchers to play!

    • Kyle

      Alfonso Soriano, in his deepest dreams, has never been half the hitter Prince Fielder is. If you don’t want to pay elite money for elite players, that’s fine, but the fact that the Cubs once foolishly played elite money for a merely good player doesn’t enter into it.

      • kansas cubs fan

        I never said prince wasnt a good hitter just saying i think he will wear down and not live up to the long lucrative contract he wants, just like soriano!!!

  • Bails17

    I would be more than happy to stay where we are at for 2012!  I just don’t want to be somewhere in no mans land with the liability of signing one or two free agents and still not compete!

     

    • hansman1982

      you would sign the two free agents with the hopes of a prospect or two having a breakout season and/or signing a couple more next winter and competing in 2013

      2012 is a lost season and I am guessing that the TNT (Tom and Theo) Show knows this…

  • LouCub

    Reyes would be the worst possible influence on Starlin Castro and there is no way Theo goes after any of the big time free agents except maybe Papelbon IF Marmol is moved and if Theo doesn’t want Chris Carpenter in that role… I’m thinking Soto, Byrd, Marmol and Demp are moved for young arms this offseason or before July and that the Cubs are going young..Ricketts wants to build from the ground up, not like Hendry did from the penthouse down..

    • http://TheoWaiting Cheryl

      I hope Theo does exactly that. We had an excellent draft this year and we do need the young arms because of the concentration on position players. I’m anxious to see Vogelbach in his first full season in the minors and hope LaHair wasn’t a flash in the pan. See if they are what we need rather than go after Fielder, But if Theo can trade Marmol, Dempster, Soto and Byrd that will help. There’s also the chance Dempster will retire.

      • Toosh

        Dempster has 10 and 5 rights, so the Cubs wouldn’t be able to trade him without his consent. Also, he has a $14 million player option for 2012. I don’t think he’ll retire.

    • Kyle

      This doesn’t have to be an either/or. The Cubs can use their considerable financial advantages and the intelligence of Epstein and his soon-to-be-built brain trust to simultaneously rebuild the farm system through draft and IFAs while competing at the MLB level through free agency.

    • Joe Cartwright

      Totally read that “IF” as infield.

  • Hawkeye

    Go Rangers!

    The worst part about the St. Cardinals winning the WS would be seeing that little prick Theriot celebrating.   I can almost guarantee that some reporter will ask him some loaded questions about coming from the Cubs where he never won anything, and he will be a loser and take the bait.   I strongly don’t like that guy.

  • Deer

    I’ve never seen Darvish pitch, but to say no just because he’s from Japan and Matsuzaka didn’t live up to his contract is silly. If the posting fee and contract is Matsuzaka like, then forget it, but otherwise, it should be considered.

    No reason to believe the Cubs scouted him, but I bet Boston did. Also, Matsuzaka was pretty solid until he got hurt. He pitched hurt for a while before finally getting operated on. Matsuzaka had thrown a lot of innings in Japan prior to coming here too.

  • die hard

    they use aluminum bats in winter baseball

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      At first I was going to blast you, but then I thought, “maybe that’s a joke.” You haven’t earned the benefit of the doubt lately.

    • TWC

      In a pinch, an aluminum bat makes an excellent rolling pin for pinwheel cookies.  Just be sure to use plenty of butter.

      • Dick Tidrow

        I prefer snickerdoodles.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          *Swoon*

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      Dick Tidrow doesn’t use a bat he hits 600ft HR with his fully aroused member.
      Oh
      Quadruple Stuffed Oreos are difficult to make

      • Hawkeye

        I heard that Dick Tridrow refers to Reggie Jackson as, “Mrs. October.”

        • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

          Everyone he comes in contact with becomes his bitch

          • Dick Tidrow

            You could be next MG.

  • Sam

    I think that the Cubs should pursue Yu Darvish but only if the price is right. In 4 seasons Darvish is 58 and 22 with a 1.81 ERA and 807 strike outs. Granted he has pitched 792 innings in 4 seasons, but his stats are pretty damn good not to mention he is only 25… The one thing that the Cubs need above all else is pitching, and now we have an opportunity to get a potential ace. I know that Japanese players have not done so well in the states BUT Darvish is still pretty young, most of the players that have made the trip across the pacific have been older ( 27-30) Kosuke came over here he was 30. Everybody is so quick to rip on Daisuke but he did pretty damn good in the majors untill he got hurt. His last full season in the majors which was in 2008 ( he went 18-3 with a 2.90 ERA), not to mention he was 27 when he came over to the MLB. If the cubs can sign Darvish for $10-$15 mil I think they should do it. He has the potential to immediately upgrade the cubs rotation

    • Fishin Phil

      Kind of agree with Sam.  When it comes to starting pitching, we need to at least look at every option.  I don’t want to see the same washed up trash we saw last year.

    • Bails17

      Why?  So we can win 80 games instead of 75?  And that is no guarantee.  Plus…we are going to have to bid on him just like with DiceK.  That’s even more money off the budget!!

      • Fishin Phil

        You can start building around young starting pitching now.  You may not compete in 2012, but come 2013 you’ll have that piece in place already.

        I’m not saying go sign him no questions asked.  I’m saying that as empty as our current starting pitching cupboard is,  we need to at least explore all kinds of possibilities.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        The move would be less about 2012 than about 2013 and beyond.

        Edit: What Phil said.

        • CubSouth

          If Fielder and Pujols go to different teams next season, u almost have to believe that the division will be up for grabs again. We may not go to the WS next yr or even win our division, but u almost have to believe we could stay competitive until mid September and that’s fine with me. Then in the 2012 off season go after the missing pieces Theo needs to have a Championship team. I like the idea of getting a couple of big pieces now cause (1) u never know who else will have a breakout yr and we actually do win the dogfight called the NL Central and (2) it will b less to worry about come the off season and (3) these guys don’t come around every year.

  • Roland

    I can understand everyones feelings on not signing Pujols as he is older and will not live up to his contract. But Fielder is just in his prime and will live up to his contract unless it is a 10yr deal. When you have an opportunity to sign an elite player you do it. Maybe we will not compete in 2012 but you sign fielder patch up or make a trade for some starting pitching, roll the dice on 2012. Then in 2013 we have more kids ready and make a few shrewd signings as the pitching free agent class is deep you are right there. Now I think with a new mgr, Fielder, resign Aram, and shore up the pitching maybe a trade for a young guy and hope one of our own steps up. We could make it interesting and then if we are there at the deadline maybe a free agent to be sp falls in our lap who knows that is why they play the games.

    • Mikey

      There’s no way pujols is going anywere. His lame cards made the World Series pukols will now be content in staying in St. Louis, I say keep Lahair save BIG money maybe make a trade and get some pitching we’ll be contending in 2013

  • Dan0mite

    I would like to point out that “Dick Justice” would be the greatest porn name ever.

    • Katie

      I would like to point out that I couldn’t agree more. The only one that’s better is a guy I went to high school with had a dad named Dick Stuck. No joke. Also there’s a fairly famous high school girls basketball player from the 70′s here in Iowa named…..wait for it….. Fonda Dicks.

    • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

      I had a teacher named Dick Bender. He honestly went by that name, not Richard Bender or Rich Bender, nope Dick Bender

      • Bails17

        Went to school with a guy…Mike Hunt.  Yup…love that one.  And….had a client once named Richard Head.  Just sayin!!

         

        • Dan0mite

          I know a guy named Dick Kuntz. Absolutely serious. He is a pretty nice guy, I couldn’t imagine living with that name.

  • amoo22

    everyone is soriano bashing, yea he blows now, but he was a huge reason we were even in the postseason two years in a row. without him who knowsif we would have ever made it.

  • Andy

    When signed to any real money, very few players play up to the value of their contract. Players are almost always going to take the most money the system will allow them to take. Look at the top 10 paid players for 2011 (all making at least $20m).

    A-Rod – meh year, paid $32m
    Vernon Wells – Horrible
    Sabathia – very good, but is 19-8 3.00 worth $24+ mil?
    Teixeira – rough year for $23m
    Joe Mauer – down year and hurt constantly – $23m
    Johan Santana – 11-9 2.98… worth $21.6m?
    Todd Helton – hit for avg and obp, but 14hr and 69 rbi for a guy getting $20m
    Miguel Cabrera – awesome year… maybe the one of top 10 guy that “earned” his $20m
    Roy Halladay – Probably Cy Young… and he’s been doing it forever. Fine. $20m.

    Howard, Carlos Lee, Soriano, Zambrano, Torri Hunter, Barry Zito, Jason Bay. All earning $18m+ and all had less than extraordinary seasons. It’s just the nature of the beast. Teams pay high based off player history, player projection and the market. More often than not, the player never really “earns” the pay.

    • hardtop

      ill add adrian gonzalez.
      plenty of offense, trailed off a little, and excellent defense. i dont know if he was in the last year of his padres deal or the first year of his 21 mil: if he played for pads money he was the best value in baseball, if for a 21 mil paycheck, still a bargain. one of theo’s really great signings.

  • fearbobafett

    I would love to see Darvish in a cubs uniform. No matter what i think he has at least 3-4 years in that arm before it starts to fall off. if he is NOT your ace you keep his innings down. Price tag has to be right however, no reason to have his net average salary be near 18 million.
    Plus we all know we are not going to be playoff bound this year so when we hit August shut the kid down to save his arm and let some of the rookies get a shot.
    Cubs didn’t stick it to Kouske, so i would think players would still want to play for us if we won the bidding.

  • Mike

    I think after Boston’s signing of Matsuzaka and Cubs signing of Fukudome, the two sides will get together and hopefully decide a big contract deal to another unproven player is simply not worth it.

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