Yesterday’s rain bought the Cubs an extra two or so days of Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod’s services, because it created an off-day on which the Cubs and Padres could announce the front office move. The rain also bought me a weekend free from obsessively scouring sources for the precise moment the Cubs announce the move.
- Cubs’ President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein may not have a lot to work with on his new team, but he’s got a heck of a talented shortstop. And he knows it. “This kid is only 21 years old, most 21-year-olds are maybe getting to High-A ball and thinking about sniffing Double-AA,” Epstein said of Starlin Castro. “When Derek Jeter was just about the same age he made 56 errors in the low minor leagues. [With] defense especially there is maturation that only comes with time and experience …. Offensively, the things he has done is what guys who go on to be ten-time All-Stars and Hall of Famers do. Again it’s our jobs as management to get to know him and help him reach his ceiling, and in his case his ceiling is immense …. This kid has a chance to be a great all-around player, not just one with tremendous physical ability.” Castro is, perhaps, the only player on the roster whom Epstein could reasonably think of as a son, so there’s that, too.
- Carlos Zambrano looks to be keeping himself fresh this offseason by pitching in the Venezuelan Winter League. Here’s hoping he looks all universe.
- In his introductory press conference on Tuesday, new Red Sox GM Ben Cherington was asked about Boston personnel following Theo to Chicago. Obviously we’ve not yet gotten word of anyone coming, but Cherington added that “Theo hasn’t asked me about anyone yet,” with a strange, wry smile. So, I got the sense that the issue will be resolved in tandem with the Theo compensation issue.
- Gotta love some of the Chicago columnists/talking heads/blowhards. They aren’t going to let a silly thing like the Cubs getting the best front office in baseball keep them from dumping! Rick Telander compares the Cubs’ new front office members (and Tom Ricketts) to Wall Street executives who used some fancy financial tricks to line their pockets at the expense of a number of Main Streeters. The reason? They’re smart and well-educated. You can’t make this stuff up. Chris DeLuca rips Cubs fans for getting too excited about the arrival of Theo, playing out the same ‘ole tired argument that we’re expecting a championship in “two or three years.” I’m not. I’m expecting a consistently good, competitive team in two or three years. How about you guys? And then there’s Dan Bernstein, making decent points about the attitudes Cubs fans should have in this new era, but doing so in a condescending, smug, angry tone that destroys any of the credibility his points might have earned.
- You can probably cross Blue Jays manager John Farrell off of any hoped-for managerial lists. The Blue Jays announced a change in policy that they will not allow employees under contract to interview for lateral moves. The decision, I’m sure, is in response both to the Cubs’ efforts to raid front offices, and to the Red Sox’s presumed request to interview Farrell.
- Phil Rogers wonders if the Cubs might be willing to let Mike Quade manage in 2012, because Rays’ manager Joe Maddon, among others, is a free agent after 2012. Then again, what if the Rays let Maddon talk to teams now? Rogers also wonders if the Cubs would take a run at him – he’d be awfully expensive.
- If Quade hopes to stay, here’s his 2011 rap sheet, which he can use to “debrief” Theo Epstein.
- Speaking of managers, Epstein is complimentary of Ryne Sandberg, but says it’s too early to talk about him as a managerial candidate (like, duh – Mike Quade is still the manager, right?). “Ryne Sandberg obviously was a great Cub, great player, great guy by all accounts, but he’s a Philadelphia Phillie,” Epstein said. “He’s a Triple-A manager. It would be just so premature for us to talk about [Sandberg as a managerial candidate].”
- Chris Carpenter added another two scoreless innings in the AFL, and a few more strikeouts. He’s once again showing no reason not to consider him for a bullpen spot out of Spring Training next year.
- Draft bonuses (i.e., “hard slotting”) is the only major issue remaining in baseball’s labor talks. Emperor Selig wants hard slotting, and the Player’s Association does not. I’d expect a resolution soon, and probably in favor of the players (which, to remind you, is good for teams like the Cubs, who are willing to spend big on the draft).