Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

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.

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