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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