Derek Holland threw a gem against the Cardinals last night to even the World Series at two wins apiece, but, I have to ask: does he own a mirror? Derek, my friend, shave the crustache. You look like a middle schooler who’s not quite ready to buy his first razor. That, or you just ate a piece of chocolate cake without caring a whit about napkins or decorum.

  • Interim GM Randy Bush and his staff were not told of the Cubs’ negotiations with Theo Epstein until he’d accepted a five-year deal, and Bush was told to start working on the compensation process with the Red Sox. That, according to Gordon Wittenmyer, who argues Bush is being ignored, and should instead be brought back as an integral piece in 2012. For my part, I’m reserving a great deal of judgment about the makeup of the rest of the front office – beyond Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Jason McLeod, Oneri Fleita, and (probably) Tim Wilken – until I see what moves Epstein wants to make with respect to other executives. There is certainly room to keep someone like Bush as an assistant GM, and there is something to be said of preserving institutional memory and internal relationships. I doubt Epstein will turn Bush loose on a whim, but the fact that Bush wasn’t involved in the process that brought Epstein to the Cubs in the first place doesn’t bode well for his future with the organization.
  • Phil Rogers implies, ridiculously, that Theo Epstein bringing in Jed Hoyer as GM is some kind of thank you payback for the Adrian Gonzalez trade – a trade, you’ll note, which no one, nowhere believed was a sweetheart deal in favor of the Red Sox. Way to engender a positive relationship with the new guys there, Phil. Prospective sources thinking of talking to Phil: talk to me, instead.
  • Ken Rosenthal says that, as a free agent, Albert Pujols is going to get more than the nine years and $200 million he rejected this past offseason in the way of an extension from the Cardinals. He adds that the Cubs, despite the belief that the new regime is not interested in older, expensive free agents, will face tremendous pressure to try and snake Pujols from the rival Cardinals. I remain of the belief that, unless Pujols is willing to consider a five-year deal, the Cubs are unlikely to consider making an offer.
  • Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale is likely to be a candidate for the Cubs’ expected-to-be-open managerial job. Hale hails from Chicago, and is well-liked by incoming President, Theo Epstein. Don’t worry about a compensation fight, after all, Hale would be getting a clear promotion… oh. Wait.
  • In the same article, two sources said Yu Darvish’s posting fee is not expected to approach the $51 million it cost to talk to Daisuke Matsuzaka, despite the fact that Darvish is the superior pitcher. Instead, the fee isn’t likely to clear $30 million (hey, that’s what I said). The Cubs are listed among some of the usual suspects (Yankees, Red Sox, Rangers, Nationals, Mariners) as a potential bidder.
  • How about an update on the Cubs’ prospects/players in the Arizona Fall League? On the pitching side of things, Chris Carpenter is having an excellent Fall, as he did last year, with a 100 mph heater. He’s got a 2.35 ERA over 7.2 innings, with a razor thin 0.91 WHIP. He’s struck out 11. Trey McNutt has a 4.05 ERA and 1.65 WHIP over his 6.2 innings, which is fine, but he’s struck out just one batter. That’s usually a bad sign. Andrew Cashner last pitched eight days ago, so he doesn’t have much in the way of stats to consider. I’ve reached out to Carrie Muskat to see if there is any reason for concern. Finally, Marcus Hatley was sent to the AFL so the Cubs could see if they should use a 40-man roster spot on him for the upcoming year, and he’s done little to convince them – he sports a league-worst 14.73 ERA.
  • On the batting side of things, 21-year-old shortstop Junior Lake is the biggest story. Generally thought to be a light-hitting kid, Lake has a 1.144 OPS, which is the highest in the league by anyone who has more than 40 at bats (Lake has 58). He’s in the top five in the league in homers, doubles, and RBI, and he leads the league in steals. Yes, the AFL is an offensive haven, generally speaking, but even considering the league median OPS – about .800 – Lake is killin’ it. Josh Vitters also continues to hit well (.375/.415/.563), and has started playing some outfield. DJ LeMahieu is hitting just shy of league average.
  • An 0-fer dropped Bryan LaHair out of the Venezuelan Winter League OPS lead by a handful of points. He’s still got a .308/.426/.821 line through 10 games, and the median OPS in the league right now is about .780. So, yeah, he’s killin’ it.
  • One of Mesa, Arizona’s biggest Cubs boosters, Robert Brinton, passed away suddenly this weekend. Brinton was deeply involved not only in Mesa’s efforts to keep the Cubs Springing there, but also as a board member for the Cactus League as a whole. He was 60.
  • Totally random: Paul Sullivan offers to introduce Theo Epstein to the “Ship of Fools,” an affectionate(?) nickname for the media in Chicago. If you’re looking for candid shots of the Sullivan/Wittenmyer/Levine/Miles/Muskat/et al crew, there’s your link. Again: all credit to the beat writers of Chicago. We might not always agree or get along, but I believe they have a difficult, important job, which they often do quite well. It’s not something I think I’d like to do, so I’ll instead thank them, and chuckle, mildly, at their pictures.
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  • Fishin Phil

    I’ve got no problem with keeping Randy Bush around.  Of course, I would lose much sleep if he left either.

  • Hawkeye

    Anybody out there still think we should be in the bidding wars for CJ Wilson after last nights game?  Not only did some young kid come out and totally upstage Wilson (farm system development here we come), but then FOX flashed Wilson on the screen and the stat across the bottom of the screen read that Wilson is in the only person in baseball history to lose an All-Star game, an LDS game, an LCS game and a WS game.   Sounds like CJ has a hard time with the big games.   Don’t suppose he would do all that well coming to Chicago where a WS starved fan base cheers as if every game is a big one.

    • JulioZuleta

      I hear ya, he is going to be one of those guys that gets wayyy overpaid due to a weak SP class. I’d rather go after Buehrle or someone else who is going to get paid closer to their true value.

      • Lou

        Yep. I think Buerhle the smarter move here. CJ Wilson will get overpaid if the BoSox or Yankees want him.

    • Brett

      Eh – I wouldn’t rule out Wilson because of a handful of games (even if they are “important” games). I’d rule him out if he wants over $100 million.

      • JulioZuleta

        I’m not based on those games. I just think every off-season, the best SP available gets overpaid, and I don’t think I would want them to do that for someone who isn’t a true ace. On a side note, even if we don’t get Albert (which I’m sure we won’t), I think this world series has raised his value significantly and will make this contract even worse for the Cards. :)

        • Brett

          I know – we agree. I was responding to Hawkeye.

      • Hawkeye

        I agree with you Brett.  It is the pairing of some big time losses with the fact that he will command big time money.   If he had the big time wins, then maybe big time money is warranted, but unfortunately, he doesn’t this year.

  • EricF

    Keep CJ Wilson away. Dude is going to be WAY overpaid and he’s old as fuck. No thanks. I can only imagine the beating he would take under the pressure of Chicago. Next years FA SP class will be a lot better.

    • Brett

      He’s not young, but if 30 is “old as fuck,” I’m dreading an upcoming birthday more than I already was.

      • JulioZuleta

        You age like a fine wine…

      • Hawkeye

        Agree with you Brett.   From the looks of your calendar, we have back to back birthdays.   Sounds like you got a year on me though.   From what EricF says, I got one year before I am old.

        • jfish1219

          Well FML I am 28 and already getting white hairs also my hair is “thinning”. I blame my child for this ha ha ha

  • Ian Afterbirth

    “Whit” not “wit”, Ace.
    Not a gotcha – I just know you’d want to know (assuming it wasn’t a typo).

    • Brett

      And yet I specifically looked it up before publishing. There’s an idiom site that said it was “wit.” Looking elsewhere, I see that it’s supposed to be “whit.” I’ll change it – but I just wanted it to be known that I checked in advance.

      • Ian Afterbirth

        Haha! Duly noted!

  • Deer

    Any chance Quade gets his walking papers today? I’m just wondering since the 2012 manager question will come up tomorrow. I say just do it over the phone, why cut his latest fishing trip short and fly him in just to pack his bags?

    • Luke

      Quade should probably get a chance to defend himself. It could be there is some sort of genius behind the maddening aspects of his managing. I say could be. Similarly, bigfoot could be running a disco bar under Mt. Rainier with Elvis as the headliner. Again, could be.

      Regardless, Epstein doesn’t want to roll into town and start firing people too quickly. There are going to be some people who may not be under contract that the Cubs do want to keep. If the new management starts firing people as soon as they walk in the door, it could easily scare off some of the good ones. That said, I think the manager question will be settled by the start of the Winter Meetings.

      • jstraw

        There will be no opening in the conversation for a “defense.” Quade will be thanked and informed of a decision.

        I don’t even know what “scare off” means in this context. People that have jobs want to keep them unless they have a better offer. People that don’t get fired in a change of leadership are usually pleased, not “scared off.”

      • hardtop

        quade defending himself:
        “well, i’d never actually ‘watched’ a baseball game before. I had no idea…”

  • jstraw

    No. There is no chance this will happen today. The news will be delivered in person, by the new GM. There is no new GM.

    • Brett

      I think I agree. The Cubs will get Hoyer in place, and then they’ll conduct a brief “review,” and Quade will be dismissed. Could all happen this week.

  • die hard

    If Q doesnt want to return to minors, he would make good scout. Shouldnt let his baseball knowledge go to waste.

  • Cubsklm

    OK, I am back from my weekend of partying over the Great Cubbie news. No more movie parodies or song lyrics.

    Sometimes like drone strikes, there is collateral damage. When a regime comes in, with the street cred this bunch has, there’s going to be collateral damage.

    I hope Bush can stay on in some capacity, I never like to see anyone lose their job, but on the hand, the task at hand is great, and you can’t blame the new regime for wanting to build with their people.

  • Brett

    FYI: Carrie Muskat says she checked on Cashner and he’s OK. He’s scheduled to pitch again this week.

  • pfk

    Well, we now know who Gordon Wittenmyer’s “source” is/was with the Cubs.

    • Brett

      Ha. I almost made a similar joke.

  • Hcs

    Very diplomatic assessment of the press corps. While a majority of their articles are of dubious quality, they do have to answer to higher powers, be it the editor or the team itself. You are only beholden to Mrs. Brett, who probably doesn’t influence editorial content nearly as much…

    • Brett

      Indeed – only rarely does she wield her red pen authority.