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A large part of me hopes that not only are the Cubs able to finalize the Theo Epstein deal this week, but also that the news leaks during the World Series. Because I want the Cubs to get Theo? Well, yeah, obviously. But also because it will take the focus off of St. Louis’ World Series berth. The Cubs were terrible this year – and last year – but they can still steal the headlines, and I wouldn’t hate an opportunity to prove it.

  • The Arizona Instructional League (not to be confused with the prospect-heavy, competitive Arizona Fall League), which was the first taste of professional ball for many of the Cubs’ 2011 draft picks, has wrapped up. The Cub Reporter has a full rundown of player stats from the league (which, keep in mind, can’t really be evaluated like stats from a regular league, because of the instructional nature of the league). If you’d like a broad review, it’s this: 2011 draft picks didn’t put up great numbers, more advanced prospects who’ve been in the system a year or two put up good numbers. The lesson? Adjusting to professional ball – even at the instructional level – takes time.
  • Speaking of the Arizona Fall League, Josh Vitters hasn’t played since last Friday. I asked Carrie Muskat why – she suggested that it was because Vitters was only on Mesa’s roster as an “extra” outfielder (his natural position is third), and he was only seeing regular action previously because the team’s top first baseman was out with an injury. I can only assume that’s true, because Carrie tends to know these things – why this information wasn’t reported when the AFL rosters were announced, I cannot say. I asked about Vitters’ status in order to clear up any whispers that Vitters was sitting at the request of the Red Sox. It seems unlikely the Sawx would want him to stop playing an offseason Winter ball league just because he’s being traded (that’s not to say Vitters is definitely not going to the Red Sox; I’m just saying I doubt that his sitting has anything to do with the Theo compensation talks). So, instead, it looks like he’s sitting behind some other players, despite his huge OPS, which had him near the top of the AFL.
  • Junior Lake continues to tear the league up, adding another homer and stolen base yesterday. He’s at the top of the league in both. Lake was already moving up prospects lists after a solid 2011 season (including a half season at AA, despite being just 21), but I would imagine his AFL production is going to rocket him up even further.
  • Congress is once again injecting itself into the mores of substance use in professional baseball. The substance this time around? Smokeless tobacco. Now, you’ll hear a lot of people grumbling “don’t they have better things to do?” They probably do. But, chew is dangerous, addictive, and easily emulated by the younger generation. I’m not here to tell you what to do with your own mouth, but if I don’t have to watch another big leaguer with a wad in his mouth, brownish slime dripping down his chin as he spits, that’ll be just fine with me. I kind of hated the bubble gum antics of Darwin Barney this year, too, so maybe the health part of things isn’t really what gets stuck in my craw, as it were. I’d say I’m all about sunflower seeds (and I was, as a player (in high school)), but we saw where that got Starlin Castro…
  • I missed one bullet in this morning’s Epstein post: Nick Cafardo quotes a Boston Red Sox source who says, “We need to get on with our business. And I would think the Cubs would as well. We feel Theo Epstein has a value and we’re going to get that value.’’ Step on their throat, Mr. Ricketts. You have my permission.
  • The only chance Mike Quade stays on as manager in 2012 to complete his contract? If the Cubs have to wait until this time next year to official hire Epstein (relax: it’s a super long-shot (of course, then again, so was hiring Epstein in the first place)), it’s possible they could install a GM like Josh Byrnes, Jed Hoyer or Rick Hahn to start the process of lining the team up for 2013 success. If that happens, it’s conceivable the Cubs would just let Quade manage the 2012 team, knowing that competitiveness would not be along for another year. Would the Cubs really openly shrug off an entire season like that, though, even without Epstein? I doubt it.
  • Assuming Quade is gone, keep your eyes on whom the Cubs bring in for an interview to replace him. If Ryne Sandberg gets an interview to be the Cubs’ next manager, there will then be a 99% chance he gets the job, says Paul Sullivan. I have to agree: the Cubs can’t take the PR hit of passing over Sandberg twice (thrice, really). If they don’t want him, then don’t interview him. Seems unfair, but that’s the reality.
  • Carrie Muskat takes questions, but there’s not a whole lot of info in there this week. The same is true of Bruce Levine’s weekly chat. He thinks Edwin Jackson should be the Cubs’ top target this offseason, which, like, eh. I suspect, in a weak pitching market, Jackson will get a handsome contract that belies his inconsistent career.
  • Randy Wells is hosting a “Boot Bash” on Friday, which, in the shortest possible description, supports the troops. It’ll be at Joe’s Bar, and will feature music and an auction, among other things.
  • The city of Mesa has officially approved the Cubs’ $99 million Spring Training complex plan, and things are locked in for 30 years. The plan is to break ground in the summer of 2012, and have the facility ready for Spring Training in 2014. Meanwhile, the Cubs will continue to work with private companies to develop the Wrigleyville West portion of the plan (the entertainment/resort/destination part of the things).
  • Ken Rosenthal runs down the current labor talks. MLB remains hopeful that it can announce a new deal during the World Series. Recall, the big issues being discussed are: (1) adding another Wild Card playoff entrant to each league, (2) realigning the leagues to be 15/15, (3) “hard-slotting” in the draft (i.e., no huge bonuses for later round picks – you get what you get), and (4) a world-wide draft. Your rooting interests are as follows: (1) Yes, provides a greater chance the Cubs can make the playoffs, (2) Yes, ditto, (3) No, the Cubs are more likely than smaller clubs to spend big on later round picks, and (4) No, the Cubs are heavily involved in international free agency.
  • Montelle

    Is there any possibility we could still get the deal finalized before game-time tonite? This is KILLIN ME, SMALLS!!

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Growing infinitesimal by the moment.

  • http://bleachernation.com ricosanto

    Forget Edwin Jackson , he is like Vasquez..Swoop in and get Buhrlie. The sox are going to offer him a 2 year deal . Jump in with 3 years 30 mil. He has one of the best inter-league records, and is more suited for the NL. His sinker is ecellent for Wrigley and he is a better
    # 3 than Demp.. He can stay in his same house, kids stay in school etc.

    • Hogie

      I am amazed at the lack of respect he seems to be getting! The guy pitches 200+ innings every year with a sub 4 ERA! He does have a lot of miles on that arm, but he isn’t even 32 yet, and he has been nothing but consistent his whole career. If we can get 3 for 30 I would jump all over it, but I suspect as the market shapes up his price is going to rise. I would say closer to 3 for 40, which I would still probably take since there is nothing coming up the system anytime soon.

  • CubFan Paul

    any guesses at which young guy makes the 25man roster out of spring training next year? Barney in 2011, Castro in 2010 & randy Wells in ’09..

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

      It’s bound to be a pitcher since I don’t think the Cubs can sign or trade to complete the rotation. The other possibility would be a 2B or 3B player.

    • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

      Brett Jackson, D.J. LeMahieu, Ryan Flaherty, Wellington Castillo, Steve Clevenger and Bryan LaHair (if you can call him a young guy…) would be my picks on the diamond.

      On the mound, Chris Rusin, Scott Maine, Rafael Dolis, and maybe Brooks Raley or Nick Struck. Ryan Searle is a wild card – some of his numbers look very good, and some look… not so good. He’s had some success with Austrailia in the World Cup, though, so I’ll toss his name on the heap.

  • baseballet

    In addition to Junior Lake’s exploits in the AFL, Bryan LaHair also homered for the third straight game…

    • Hawkeye

      I have a feeling that all these young names are going to get plenty of chances to show what they can really do this year.   I don’t think we are going to go out and break the bank, but see if these kids really are good, or just AAAA-ball talent.

  • Mike Foster

    I think tobacco is a personal choice and Congress should be paying slightly more attention to creating JOBS!!!! That said it’s the constant viewing of players spitting that bothers me. Nothing can happen in the game unless someone spits. What’s that all about! Congress should pass a law against spitting in baseball. Yeah, yeah, that’s the ticket…no spitting….no spitting in baseball…..or crotch scratching, yeah, no crotch scratching either, Congress should ban that too. And blondes….blondes should only be allowed into games if they pull their hair back, yeah, pull their hair back…and wear ……..

    • http://www.frenchrocks.net Ian Afterbirth

      No batting glove adjusting!

  • bacboris

    So I’ll admit I never expected to see a: “I’m not here to tell you what to do with your own mouth” on this site but considering some of the trolls i’m guessing it was just a matter of time.

  • John

    Cubs offseason targets after Theo officially becoming GM/President. Go after either Pujols or Fielder. 6 years, 150 MIL. 25 MIL a Year with team options for 7th and 8th years.
    Two starters. I would go for Buehrle and Darvish. At most 10 MIL/year for Buehrle and 12 MIL/year for Darvish. Either Wells or Cashner would be 5th starter. Give Vitters or Lemahieu a shot at 3rd. Keep Lahair for left if you can trade Soriano or right if you think Colvin can not handle it. Maybe keep Baker. TRADE ZAMBRANO!!!
    Rotation: Garza, Buehrle, Demp, Darvish, Cashner
    Bullpen: Marmol, Wood, Marshall, Wells, Samardzija, James Russell, and Chris Carpenter
    C: Soto and either Clevenger or Castillo
    1B: Pujols or Fielder
    2B: Barney or Lemahieu
    SS: Castro
    3B: Vitters or Lemahieu
    LF: Soriano or Lahair
    CF: Jackson or Byrd
    RF: Lahair or Colvin

    • Kansas Cubs Fan

      I doubt Pujols is going to leave STL.

      And Fielder is a DH

    • TSB

      6 years and $150 million? Is that for Prince Soriano, or Alfonso Pujols?

    • Theo

      lol, HA, HA, HA.

  • cubsklm

    Jackson or Buerhle plus Maholm would be good additions to Garza, Dempster, and Wells.

    It still gives the option to stretch out Cashner.

    The bullpen is set, I like Carpenter’s potential to also fit in.

  • fearbobafett

    Do we know at what point demp needs to make his decision about accepting or declining his player option? I really can not see him coming back to us on a 1 year deal when this is probably his last chance to cash in on a 3 year contract at decent money.

    To John’s rotation, i would just slide another one of the kids in there or get a vet that could chew up some innings with a 3.5-4 era and NOT be a cancer in the dougout. then again i would be just as happy with one of the young guys in there for ’12 seeing as i still view it as a lost season then grab another arm for 2013.

    Better yet, trade Soto for another arm.

    • JulioZuleta

      5 days after the World Series. Here’s hoping he declines it, although I’m a big fan and don’t even want to think of what that rotation could look like next year without him. I want Theo to have as much of a clean slate to work with as possible from day one.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Yeah, I hate saying it too loudly because I like Dempster, but I’m hoping he decides it’s time to move on.

  • die hard

    This link has what purports to be a relatively complete history of Theo transactions

    http://www.bleedcubbieblue.com/2011/10/13/2488143/theo-epsteins-transaction-history

    One observation is that he has a throw it against the wall to see if stick approach…Dont know if Mr. Ricketts would allow such recklessness…If reined in, will Theo be as effective using a pin point rather than scatter gun SOP?.

  • http://bleachernation.com ricosanto

    I say trade Marmol, then you still have Marshall , Carpenter, Wood. and I would leave Cashner in Pen. Make Samardza a starter. he could be the dark horse , 4 pitches , overpowering at times , command has improved ,and we know he has the competivines. He wants to be a star starter.

    • CubSouth

      I would love to see Marmol get traded, BUT, if we can’t, I’d at least like to see him get moved to the 7th or 8th inning spots. That way if he screws up, we would still have 3-9 outs to make up for it. I live in the Southeast and the Braves had a great 7th thru 9th inning bullpen lined up. Didn’t get them to the promise land but they did know their roles and were successful, just young. I just can’t bare to see Marmol closing for us next yr, I get a headache watching him walk batter after batter with Quade on the bench preparing his speech for the press on what new excuse he can conjure up.

  • jt

    I for one can’t wait until tonight, where the cardinals will lose. And tomorrow when they’ll (Albert and TLR) be bitching to the media about how the weather affected their play.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Cubbie_Blue

    @cubsfanpaul, id like to see junior lake get a shot maybe at 2nd, or 3rd. he is 21 and has already shown some big time power. i say he gets a shot, if it dont go well then send him back to AA

    • Larry

      I couldn’t agree more. I like Lake’s bat and think that he could be a strong addition to a team with a lot of offensive questions at this point.

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