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The Cubs are expected to introduce new General Manager Jed Hoyer and Scouting/Player Development Chief Jason McLeod at a press conference tomorrow, probably in the afternoon.

  • A number of Cubs are officially free agents, having filed for free agency over the weekend: Carlos Pena, Kerry Wood, Reed Johnson, John Grabow, Rodrigo Lopez, and Ramon Ortiz. Aramis Ramirez is expected to join their ranks shortly. The Cubs will have a couple days of exclusive negotiating with their free agents, but none is necessarily expected to re-sign during that window. Each will be discussed as the offseason unfolds, but my guess is Wood will be back (if his knee responds well to September arthroscopic surgery to repair a torn meniscus), Johnson will probably be back (slightly better than 50/50), Pena will probably not be back (slightly less than 50/50), and the other three will not be back.
  • Jon Heyman, who slightly redeemed himself by first reporting the Cubs’ interest in Jed Hoyer, lists the Cubs among a handful of teams interested in CC Sabathia, assuming the lefty opts out of his deal with the Yankees (as he’s expected to do). Before you get too exited, the Yankees have already made an extension offer to Sabathia, and virtually everyone believes opting out was simply Sabathia’s way of getting a few more dollars from the Yanks.
  • Tomorrow is Commissioner Selig’s imposed deadline for the Cubs and Red Sox to come to an agreement on compensation for the Cubs’ hiring Theo Epstein. Both sides, it seems, are resigned to the fact that Selig will have to intervene and settle the matter. If that happens, Buster Olney agrees with me that the process will favor the Cubs. Olney says the league is engaged in an effort to “tamp down the perceived value of executives,” and forcing the Cubs to give up the moon for Epstein would be inconsistent with those efforts. Note that allowing Selig to decide compensation also gives the Red Sox a scapegoat in their feverish PR efforts. “We expected huge compensation, we deserved it, and we worked hard for it. But lousy ‘ole Bud screwed us.”
  • Carlos Zambrano is expected to be heavily scouted in the Venezuelan Winter League, in which he’ll start pitching soon. Let’s all root for a successful stint, making the Cubs’ efforts to move Zambrano slightly more easy.
  • Cubs’ prospects kept hitting in the Arizona Fall League this weekend, with Josh Vitters going 3-4 with a homer on Saturday, and Junior Lake also adding a homer. Chris Carpenter threw a scoreless inning, and Andrew Cashner returned to the mound after an oblique strain had kept him sidelined for a couple weeks. His return was inglorious – he gave up three earned in an inning of work.
  • Speaking of Carpenter, the reliever is enjoying his time in Arizona, and looks forward to contributing in the Cubs’ pen in 2012. “I think [pitching] in the Fall League last year set me up for the big leagues this year,” said Carpenter, who posted a 2.79 ERA in a short cup of coffee with the Cubs at the end of the first half. “I feel very comfortable right now in the position, just having a year of being a reliever from switching to a starter, getting more comfortable and definitely got to mature quick when getting to the big leagues. I’m excited for the year to come up.”
  • Bryan Burwell is angry that Cardinals’ ownership let the Albert Pujols extension talks come to this. It seems he, like most Cardinals fans, wants Pujols back at all costs, and it occurs to me that the Cubs can only win here. Either Pujols leaves – presumably leaving the NL Central completely – and the Cardinals are weakened, or the Cardinals give Pujols the insane, 10-year deal he wants, and they are crippled financially down the road. The latter would be a bit of a hollow victory (because the Cards would still be good for a few years yet (or more, what with the voodoo magic and all)), but we’ll take any kind of victory we can get.
  • A bit of North Side versus South Side humor here. Yes, it’s a bit over the top – but that doesn’t mean it’s not funny (“Garbage. Get your garbage here.”). Thanks to Sweet James Jones for posting the link on the Message Board.
  • Cubsklm

    This was just part of process, Ramirez may still get an extension.
    I see this roster being completely rolled over in 2012.

    Players, I’d like to see the Cubs go after.
    Cuddyer, Beltran, Span, Kelly Johnson, C.C. and Maholm

    Lineup:
    CF Span
    2B Johnson
    SS Castro
    3B Ramirez
    1B Cuddyer
    RF Beltran
    C Soto
    LF Soriano

    Bench: DJ, Barney, LaHair, Colvin, Campana.

    SP C.C.
    SP Garza
    SP Dempster
    SP Maholm
    SP Wells/Cashner

    Bullpen:

    Marshall, Marmol, Smardj, Wood, Russel, Carpenter

    Dump: Hill, Byrd, Baker, DeWitt, Pena, Johnson, Lopez, Ortiz, Grabow

    • hansman1982

      Who is this Johnson at 2b and why are we going FA route in so many places we have talent in or going OLD for FA talent (Beltran)?

      My Lineup:
      SS Castro
      CF Jackson
      1b LaHair
      3b Flaherty/LeMahieu/Baker
      C Soto
      RF Byrd
      2b Flaherty/LeMahieu/Baker
      LF Soriano

      Staff
      Garza
      Dempster
      Samardzija
      Wells
      Cashner

      Pen:
      Closer: Marshall
      Setup: Wood
      Setup: Marmol
      Middle: Carpenter
      Middle: Russell
      Long: Someone Else

      • Cedlandrum

        despite the fans lack of love for Barney(and my own) he will most likely be the 2nd baseman next year.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Why do you think that – Theo and Jed can’t read a stat-sheet? :)

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

            Exactly

          • Cedlandrum

            Personally I don’t want him to start. I would rather them give the job to Flaherty or Lemahieu, but I think because Barney has already played a year in the bigs, he is an above average defensive player and he doesn’t give ab’s away he will be the guy. Now I think he is what he is and they will find a replacement after the season starts or going into 2013, but there are bigger fish to fry then this one.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              I don’t know, Ced. My eyes – and his errors – told me he was, at best, average defensively at second (which was something of a surprise and disappointment). Maybe it was the knee problem, but, unless he’s *literally* the best defensive second baseman in the league, he has no business being the starter – because he might very well be *literally* the worst offensive second baseman in the league.

              • hansman1982

                He is Theriot 2.0 – someone who is overhyped by a hot start (or 1st year) and then the magic wears off as he returns to who he really is (a pompus asshole that thinks his shit dont stink. Er, I mean a light hitting MI with sub-par defense)

              • Cedlandrum

                It’s important to take into account that he had played a total of 30 games at 2nd base in his whole life. Having watched him play SS for a year and a half. He is a very good and reliable defender. Now offensively he is weak.

                The team that won the world series had a worse second base group then Barney. I am not saying we can’t do better, just saying that we have bigger problems to fix. mainly 3rd, 1st, RF, 2 starters. I can live with a cheap Barney if that means that we can begin to fix the other problems.

                Now that said. Lets go get Reyes and move Castro to 2nd.

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  Ced, I think you are smart, insightful, and always have interesting things to say. But I just couldn’t disagree more with everything you just said.

                  Skip Schumaker – a converted outfielder – was the Cardinals’ primary 2B this year, and he was as good defensively as Barney, and far superior offensively (91 OPS+ versus just 83 for Barney). And then you want Reyes? Duuuuude, no. A guy approaching 30 whose top skill is speed, and who is coming off a year in which he injured the same hamstring twice? And a contract year in which his numbers exploded, after back-to-back injury-filled years? To oversimplify, Reyes’ OPS+ is 106. He’s been six percent better than average over his career. Is that really worth the 4/$50M (or more) contract he’s going to get? Is it worth the risk he’ll finally rip that hammy for good?

                  I’m sure I’m over the top, but I could not be more opposed to the Cubs signing Reyes (unless he’s interested in, like, a two-year deal – which he’s not).

                  • Cedlandrum

                    O.K. I thought Theriot had played more games then Schumaker at 2nd. But you are right. I would take Schumaker over Barney. I was wrong. Still there are other issues to figure out more pressing then Barney.

                    Another way of looking at Reyes and the contract that you suggest he will get, is that he is really at the beginning of his prime. He will be 29 this year. if you got him for 4 years he will finish that contract by the time he is 32. The hammy could be problematic, but the biggest thing with a hammy is it needs to fully heal. You can’t do that in season. Speed is his big game, so maybe he doesn’t steal 60 bags which he was on pace for before the injury. Maybe he only steals 30-40. I could live with that.

                    This season could be a fluke or it could be what his prime years look like. I personally feel that with him and Castro batting 1-2 and the defense they would provide that you could really build off of that. Also with Jackson that would give you 3 guys that could get you 30 bags.

                    Also thanks for the compliment. Same to you. Like a good civil debate.

                    • TWC

                      “Another way of looking at Reyes and the contract that you suggest he will get, is that he is really at the beginning of his prime.”

                      You know, Ced, another way of looking at Koyie Hill is that he’s just entering his prime.  That doesn’t mean it’s the right way of looking at him though.

                    • Cedlandrum

                      Oh right because Koyie Hill is a 4 time all star who at the beginning age of said prime had his best year to date. Then you are right it is a fair analogy.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      I suspect TWC’s point is that 29 is not usually considered the start of a player’s prime. Some would say that’s closer to the end of his prime days than the beginning.

                      I would add that 29 is nearing the end of “prime” particularly for “speed” players (whose “speed” ability does not only show up in the SB column, but in hits and defense – they’re used to playing the game a certain way, and when their speed leaves them, so, too, does their ability).

                    • TWC

                      That’s *mostly* my point.  I’m also suggesting that just because it’s possible to look at a situation in a certain manner that doesn’t mean it’s accurate to do so.

                      In fact, if the Cubs were closer to contention, I’d consider signing Reyes much more seriously.  But since we’re at least a season away — more likely two — I think it’s be much too risky.

                    • Cedlandrum

                      Depends on who you read, but some say peak age 27 and some 29. The guy from Sabermetrics says 29.
                      http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=9933

                      One last thing on this subject- He still hit 16 triples and stole 39 bases last year. I hardly think this is the end of his speed.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      It is if his hammy goes asplode, which is, as I’ve said, the biggest concern. How many of those triples and stolen bases came before his strained his hamstring for the second time?

                  • Jason

                    Signing Reyes would be a huge mistake – I’m opposed to it as well. I’ve been seing 6/100 tossed around the media. That’s going to be a horrible contract in 3 years.

  • Cubsklm

    MLB needs to address “Why a wild card team should have home field advantage in the World Series?”

    I know the rule, who wins the All-Star Game gets home field advantage. But does this denegrate the Divisional Championships importance? The rule should be, If a wild card team makes it to the World Series, the Divisional Champ get home filed advantage regardless.

    The Wild card team is always on the road in the NFL. That’s fair.

    • mac

      I will never understand why home field is not decided by records, like every other sport. I find it painfully annoying.

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

        Because an All-star game ended in a tie

      • Kyle

        Because in theory the leagues are still separate and record aren’t comparable.

        But most importantly, because MLB insists that the World Series is too big of a deal to have too many options for home-field advantage. They want to narrow it down as much as they can to make plans.

        (Not saying it makes sense, just saying that’s their official explanation).

    • Lou

      Interleague play and it’s amount of games also bothersome, especially when you consider how much wins counted during this season. Just consider Theo’s statement– “If we only had 2 more wins, we (Boston) would have made the playoffs.” And Theo may very well not be a part of the Cubs. It just seems to me that interleague play is scheduled so randomly. Just look at the past. Interleague play used to be more about one division playing another in separate leagues. Now, you have this weird mix-and-match thing where one team plays two divisions. And the teams they play are often based on where a team’s at with respect to its travel schedule at that point in the season. Yes, interleague play counts–but how much is too much?

  • http://www.calliopevoices.com The Big Mustafa

    Marketing.

    MLB has long-followed a knee-jerk marketing plan.

    After the All-Star game ended in a tie debacle, MLB went nuts in trying to find a way to make the game credible and valuable. Do any of us now watch the ASG to see who gets home field? If we do…are any of us losing sleep the night after it’s over?

    The “baseball is a business” mantra has been beaten into us since the first free agent filings. I get it…I’m in. Still, some their business is just moronic crap.

    • Lou

      But here’s the problem with that argument. If baseball’s into the marketing thing, then why are the most pivotal stretches of its most important game played late, late at night. If baseball’s all about garnering a younger fanbase, shouldn’t that be a consideration? Also, if they’re about marketing, how do you detract from the accomplishments of the Cardinals this season, having those detractors (and they’re out there) saying the Cards shouldn’t have won because they shouldn’t have gotten home field advantage. Home field advantage by virtue of an exhibition game. Seems like baseball’s marketing priorities are a bit mixed up.

      • TWC

        I’ve always wondered if there’s any correlation between the reduction in day games and the waning interest overall in the sport.  I have no doubt, however, that the marketing (read:$$$) of the sport has increased dramatically due to the reduction in day games.

        • Lou

          Yeah, absolutely see your point in terms of $$$ and night games. Money does make the world go round, even if it doesn’t necessarily attract new fans. I suppose that’s one big reason why the Cubs are petitioning for more night games this season.

        • hansman1982

          That is a good question…

          I think part of the problem is that baseball is seen as boring. This stems from the fact that there isn’t violence in the sport. If you take a look at the hot (football) or up and coming sports (MMA) and you see lots of violence and that is why people like those sports. For me…I love listening to the Cubs on the radio over TV and with my new job I might actually be able to do that next year.

          Maybe we should allow baserunners the ability to drop-kick a fielder to knock them off the base to be safe.

          • TWC

            Violence sucks.  I’ll kick anyone’s ass if they say differently.

            BTW, one advantage to the Cubs on the radio is that you get to listen to Pat Hughes, who is the best play-by-play guy around.  ‘Course, on disadvantage is listening to Zonk, who is a pretty tedious windbag.

          • Lou

            Well, it also doesn’t help when you have a tired commissioner trying to trump up the World Series by referencing market share as compared to football games during the same time slot. Why, if you’re baseball, do you want to draw comparisons to other widely popular sports, like football? And second why compare your viewer interest to a games receiving similar market share to the WS, like the Jaguars and Ravens? Especially when that game was awful football and the Jaguars are currently the least popular franchise amongst fans? How exactly does that help baseball?

          • Hawkeye

            “Maybe we should allow baserunners the ability to drop-kick a fielder to knock them off the base to be safe.”  -hansman1982

            Isn’t that excatly what Holliday did to Castro?  I guess it already is allowed.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    The Cardinals have scheduled a press conference this morning (9am CT). It’s unlikely to be about Pujols (that quickly). Probably either the Molina option pick-up, or something about LaRussa.

    • hansman1982

      I heard on the radio this morning that either his option is picked up or he got an extension. I don’t remember which one but Molina will be a Cardinal next year – no brainer really.

      With Pujols I fully expect him to be a Cardinal (apparently when asked if he was going to be in St Louis next year he replied with a “Why Not” at the victory parade) next year but I think he wants to be courted as the best in the game before he settles down for a 10-year $300 million contract that will be lucky to pay out $200M with the remainder “converted” into ownership stake when he reworks the deal in 6 years.

  • baseballet

    This is off topic, but can someone out there who’s keeping track summarize the Cubs’ catching options? In particular, if the Cubs dealt Soto and brought up someone from the minors, who would it be and how much would the Cubs likely be giving up in offense/defense/game calling ability?

    Do we have a minor league catcher who could give us 90% of what Soto can give and allow us to trade Soto and get something back?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger are the most ML-ready options. Castillo has a Major League bat, but there are doubts about his ability behind the plate and ability to manage a staff. Clevenger is an older “prospect,” and was a catching convert early in his minor league career. Decent hitter, but probably not a plus offensive player in the bigs. Decent behind the plate. If Soto stays, Clevenger should be his backup.

      • baseballet

        Thanks Brett! I just looked up Steve Clevenger on Baseball Reference to see how he looked last year on both offense and defense. I’m new to looking at advanced stat tables and it’s a little bewildering. Perhaps someone can chime in who knows how to interpret the stats.
        Offense: His OPS in 2011 was over .800 in AA and a whopping 1.023 in AAA (25 games). Seriously, what are they putting in the water in the PCL?
        Defense: His “RF/G” (Range Factor per Game) was over 7.5 last year. I have no idea if that’s good, or if “RF/G” is even the best defensive metric to use.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Range Factor is as good (or bad) as any other defensive metric, in my mind. That is to say, it isn’t great. And it’s even worse for catchers. When it comes to catcher defense, I tend to rely on scouts’ impressions. Most think Clevenger is solid defensively, I believe.

  • die hard

    Boston has inside track on Pujols for 1B/DH….he doesnt want to play defense every day…sets up continuation of great Boston/Yankee rivalry over next 5 yrs and networks will eat it up….then Fielder to St Louis to fill gap

    • TJ

      After signing Lackey and Crawford for eleventy billion dollars? That would be tough.

      • DRock

        Agreed. Pujols will not be going to Boston. He’s too expensive even for them (since they have so many huge, ridiculous contracts already). Same with the Yanks and Cubs. My guess is the Cards ownership will bend over backwards to keep him after he helped get them another ring. Fans would be irate if the ownership let the best in the game walk. Can’t see them losing LaRussa and Pujols after winning it all.

    • auggie1955

      Where will Boston play Adrian Gonzalez?

  • http://Bleachernation Ramy16

    Larussa set to retire??? Crazy!! So that means Mark Mc guirre will have the whole Cardinals team on Roids…lmao!!!!

  • shane

    1b Prince Fielder
    2b Darwin Barney
    3b Aramis Ramirez
    SS Starlin Castro
    LF Vernon Wells
    CF Marlyn Byrd
    RF Tyler Colvin
    C Geovanny Soto

    Starting Rotation
    1 Matt Garza
    2 Roy Oswalt
    3 Ryan Dempster
    4 Aaron Harang
    5.Andrew Cashner

    Bullpen Closer: Marshall
    Setup: Wood
    Setup: Marmol
    Middle: Carpenter
    Middle: Russell
    Long: Randy Wells

    • TWC

      Jim?  Jim Hendry?  Jim, is that you?

      • shane

        How are those bad moves

        • hansman1982

          they arent bad moves if your goal is to win now ala the Miami Marlins to take advantage of a shiney new toy…

          But we have a cash cow in wrigley, a fan base that will be appeased for a year or two with the hiring of Theo and his talk of sustained success – no sense in bringing in Vernon Wells, Oswalt and Harang which combined will cost somewhere around $50 million a year for the next 3 years.

          Out of all of your free agent pickups the most reasonable for the Cubs timeframe of contention and wanting to devote resources to the development side and that is Fielder.  Everyone else is a player for the piece away from contention teams

          • Kyle

            How does spending money on free agents in 2012-14 slow down the Cubs’ plans to develop the farm system? (Outside of some of those FAs costing us compensation picks)

  • Sweetjamesjones

    “I’ll take a peel.”

    Thanks for the shout out brother. Thought everyone would enjoy that.

  • Cubsklm

    This team needs to hit. And score runs. By adding Beltran, Cuddyer, & Kelly Johnson – you add some major sticks to the lineup.

    These guys are inexpensive, short term solutions, just place holders until the crops come from the farm.

    I am not in favor of rushing guys through the minors and watch them struggle at the MLB level.

    • Lou

      No to Beltran. I don’t want another version of Ramirez and an older one albeit too. How does Kelly Johnson help this team with all his SO? I say sign Casey Blake at 3b on a one year deal if you’re clamoring for more veteran play…and if you want a more productive offensive/defensive 2b–Brandon Phillips is available, though, don’t know if I’d go this route. Cubs need pitching more than offense. Jury’s still out on what LaHair and Jackson will do over the course of a full season. Darvish is actually the guy I would sign as a big FA, if Epstein and Co want one.

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