Maybe I don’t appreciate the beauty of defense, but a 9-6 game with a bunch of turnovers, missed field goals, and stupid plays is not the “biggest game ever.” Neither is it particularly interesting. Way to waste my Saturday night, Alabama and LSU.

  • The Cubs are getting their managerial ducks in a row. As noted yesterday, Brewers’ hitting coach Dale Sveum and Rangers’ pitching coach Mike Maddux are expected to interview Monday and (approximately) Wednesday of this week, respectively. And Dave Kaplan reports Indians’ bench coach Sandy Alomar, Jr., 45, is also expected to interview later in the week. You’ll note that all of Sveum, Maddux, and Alomar – as well as the Cubs’ first interviewee, Pete Mackanin – are also Red Sox interviewees.
  • Kaplan also says the Cubs are expected to speak to Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale at some point in the near future.
  • Another source says an Epstein/Terry Francona reunion in Chicago is unlikely.
  • Grantland’s Jonah Keri offers five tips for Theo and Jed over the Winter. I don’t hate any of them, but neither do I entirely agree: (1) Sign Grady Sizemore (shrug, fine if cheap (but that’s what every team is thinking)); (2) long-term deal for Matt Garza (eh – Cubs can afford to take him through arbitration, and I’d just as soon see the Cubs shop him); (3) don’t sign Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder because there are too many red flags for the extreme cost (agree on the former, probably agree on the latter); (4) keep spending big in the draft (fo shizzle); (5) hire a manager who fits the philosophy, rather than a “name” (agreed, obviously, and it seems clear this is the direction the Cubs are going).
  • Comparing Theo Epstein to another executive pulled away from a successful organization in the hopes that he could revamp the Cubs. Namely, Dallas Green.
  • The half of the AFL on which the Cubs are represented got spanked in the Rising Stars Game yesterday, thanks primarily to a rough outing from top overall pick in this year’s draft, Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole. Junior Lake had a double in three at bats and a throwing error. Chris Carpenter got a couple guys out, and Trey McNutt struck out the only batter he faced.
  • Speaking of the 21-year-old Lake, Baseball America’s Jim Callis is a fan: “He might have the best infield arm in the entire minors, he has above-average raw power and he’s suddenly running wild on the bases this year. He probably winds up moving to third base in the long run because he’s so big (6 foot 3, 215 pounds), but he has the tools to profile as an everyday guy there.”
  • Fluff on Lake.
  • Friends of the program over at North Side Baseball are running a free agent signing contest (for fun).
  • Fishin Phil

    The only managerial candidate that doesn’t thrill me is  Mackanin.  I’d be pretty happy with any of the others. I’ll trust the boys in the Front Office to make the best choice (still secretly hoping for Maddux).

    • Katie

      This!! I totally agree.

      • Cubbie_Blue_13

        This I also agree!!!

    • art

      i’m with you Phil.

    • Todd

      I also agree but I’m trying my best to stay open minded (with Mackanin) because I have faith in the interview process.

  • The Big Mustafa

    I like Jonah’s points on Fielder and Pujols. If we were just a touch closer to nirvana, the contract might make me less nervous. Still…if Pujols got here and turned mediocre, wearing a $25M contract for eight years…he’d be the biggest albatross in Cubs history…especially given the locale of his greatness.

    If we are picking one…it is feeling more like Fielder should be the one. It does weaken the rival in Milwaukee (same for St. Louis), while giving us true lefty power. Still…speaking for the fat, we know it doesn’t get easier as you get older.

    Alomar is interesting. Although…Sveum seems to have positive similarities to Tito, which I like. And, Maddux has a lot of Girardi’s old school grit. Also nice. It will be interesting to see how they interview.

    Good pickings, Brett…

  • hansman1982

    It is very clear that Theo is not going to hire a name…he had name #a1+ and told him no thanks in Sandberg…

  • Ian Afterbirth

    If Lake is from the DR how the hell does he pronounce his name????

    • Oswego Chris

      yeah..wait a minute…how does a guy from the Dominican get named Junior Lake?…

      unless it is really JUN EH OR  LA KEY


    • Aaron

      My vote is for “HOON eh or” “lah KAY”

  • Larry


    How far away is Junior Lake? Could he be a mid-season call-up? If so, since we know we are not going to win it all this year, would it make sense to let Baker, DeWitt, and possibly Flaherty keep 3rd base warm until Lake is ready to take it over? I didn’t include LeMahieu, because I hope he will be starting at 2nd.

    • Luke

      Lake spent a half a season in Double A this year, and that was his first taste of the level. I think he still strikes out too much to feel confident calling him up to the majors just yet, but we’ll see what happens.

      I think he needs at least another season in the minors, and preferably some time playing third on a regular basis, before he comes up. September 2012 would be the earliest I expect him, baring an injury or something else unforeseen.

      • Brett

        Agreed on all fronts. I think the new regime is going to be much slower on promotions than the Cubs were under Hendry.

        • Deer

          Interesting that Callis is high on Lake, but Keith Law thinks Lake is so undisciplined that he’s likely to end up as a pitcher. Who knows..let’s see how he fares in AA next season.

  • Jim Kress

    Would it at all be possible for Lake to be a 3rd basement candidate? Or would bringing him up as early as 2012 be “too much to handle” at his young inexperienced age? I like what I see in this kid already though. Like a bigger faster Castro. Of course D needs work, but who doesn’t need work on D on current Cubs roster. I say if Lake is invited to spring training and excels like he has in AFL, I say what’s the harm in giving the kid some MLB experience. Lord knows we need the hole filled in at 3rd anyhow. Who knows, you could end up having another Castro (kid that excels extremely quick for the Cubs at a young age)

    • Luke

      Remember, though, Castro had been playing short everyday in the minors. Lake has not been playing third on a regular basis yet. I don’t think we expect him to jump from Double A to the majors and learn a new position at the same time at the age of 21.

      Besides, the Cubs could use some time to get a good look at Flaherty at third. He has the power and the patience to stick around in the majors, and third would be a good spot for him. He projects as a DeRosa type super-sub, even if that is the case, a 100 games or so of regular at bats at third certainly won’t hurt his development any.

    • art

      Jim, i agree with you.

      like i said before, one scout early last year said Lake was as good as Castro, with power. remember they said the same thing about Castro needing 2-3 more years of minor league ball. i’m not a believer in the “too young” thing for the Majors.

      one HOF player once said of young players, “if you can play up here, age doesn’t matter”. i believe Pujols came from A ball.

      wasn’t there a guy from Cincinnati named Joe Nuxhall play up here at 16?

      having said that, i’m not saying he’s ready, i’m saying give him a shot in ST. as for his D, Castro made 29 errors last year, Jeter has never really been great at SS. that’s just my opinion.

      • Jim Kress

        Agreed. My thing about the whole situation is giving the kids a shot. If they don’t work in ST then put em in AAA or the likes. But if its clear they’re more then ready, then why make them wait and wait? Also, I was a pretty solid 1b back in HS and had no trouble at all playing other positions. These guys are pro athletes, surely they could handle a 60ft switch. I’m fully aware that they are on a different level of competition, but give them the benefit of the doubt. There is no better time then now. Start him at 3b from now til ST. That should honestly be more then enough time to adjust. And if he can’t adjust, o well. Have him back at his normal position and move on

  • Mark

    “the biggest game over” or “the biggest game ever”. I guess the game is over, so I guess that is somewhat correct.

    • Brett

      Ha. I’ll pretend I out-clevered myself.

      • Sweetjamesjones

        Hey now! That was a pretty nifty game and was two of the SEC’s best.

        Besides, the next program to win a national championship will be from the SEC…again.

  • Roland Perrelli

    I get all the dislike for not signing Pujols on this blog and various others. But other than Kemp(28) there are no other free agent bats that are in their prime this year or next year. So the sentiment of not going after Fielder is counter productive to us building for 2012 and beyond. If we could get Fielder for a 6 or max 7 year deal with the 7th year being a team option I say go for it. He is just getting into his prime (28) and is a left handed bat power bat that hits for ave and has great obp .415 ly.

    • Jim Kress

      I completely agree. I think maybe Hamilton is a FA next year too (as if the Rangers would ever let him go). But not a lot big guns out there. This is why I keep saying to pursue Kemp NOW while you can still get a good deal on him from the Dodgers. Because once hes a FA you might as well start getting your Boston and New York Matt Kemp jerseys before they’re sold out

  • Steve

    And…if Lake produce at 3rd in ST, and wins the job, he’s playing for chump change…leaving a whole lot of money for many other glaring needs. I understand the team can’t count on the happening, and must continue to seek out a productive option at 3rd. BUT, a productive Lake in ST would be a wonderful best case scenario.

  • BD

    Why all the “shop Garza” talk? Theo has stated that the Cubs need to build up assets, and especially pitching assets. Garza is one that we have. Trading him for hopeful prospects would mean giving up that asset in hopes that we may have more assets. When you have something proven, and you can afford it, why not keep it?

    • Todd

      Garza is a great asset but what if he could bring you two younger pitchers with similar abilities? If the target year for this operation to blossom is 2014, it could work out well.

  • Roland Perrelli

    There are a few other impact bats but they are on the wrong side of 30. Where fielder is on the right side of 30. He is a mega star with an incredible bat. We should be looking at guys that will still be in their prime when we are ready to win world series.

  • savant

    I’m baffled by the amount of people pinning for Lake. I don’t see him as an actual major league option nexxt year, and 2013 still might be a stretch. He has major plate discipline/contact issues, and hasn’t shown that he is anywhere near ready to play any position at a major league level. The more I read about him, the more he reminds me of Soriano. I hope the new management team will have the ability to develop him to his full potential before he ever sniffs the majors.

    • mrcubs73

      My thoughts exactly on Lake. Lake looks just like another Soriano, which is ok since he is not getting 18 million a year. Lake’s low walk and high K rate does not seem to fit Theo’s model. Theo talks about guys who work the count, I see Lake being trade bait more than a future with the Cubs

  • BetterNews

    Todd—Who would these two young pitchers be? Garza had a very good
    season pitching(3.35 ERA off the top of my head) Win/Loss record
    was not great but that is understandable considering all events. Trading
    Garza would be a huge mistake in this fans opinion. Garza is a proven
    commodity while any two young pitchers would be a gamble.

    And your asking for two pitchers with similar abilities? Come on Todd!

  • Todd

    I believe Garza is a good pitcher but not untouchable. I can’t name two pitchers off the top of my head but what if the Cubs could acquire an advanced (AA/AAA) minor league pitcher that projects to be very similar to Garza and a lower prospect with very high upside, possibly more than Garza. Would you be willing to accept that risk? I would. I would also be fine with keeping Garza because, like you said, he is a proven commodity.

  • BetterNews

    Todd—A projection about a minor league player is a gamble, as I said.
    And your asking for 2 good returns for 1 Matt Garza. The odds are
    slim to none!

  • Todd

    Of course, it’s a gamble. Why does my trade idea seem so far-fetched? We both agree that Garza has value but you don’t think another team would give a polished pitching prospect and a talented young prospect with high upside for him. I disagree.

    The Cubs don’t have many valuable trade pieces, so if another team offers up something enticing and I’m the GM, I would strongly consider giving the OK. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. If the Cubs are going to build-up the farm for a 2-3 year turnaround, some valuable players have to be traded.

    • Brett

      And, as I always say: all of the reasons you have for wanting to keep Garza are the same reasons he’d be incredibly valuable in trade.

  • BetterNews

    Todd—I am going to go out on a limb now and say yes, I do think,
    Matt Garza is “untouchable” and Theo & Co. would agree.

    • Todd

      I can accept your position that Garza is untouchable because he’s young, he’s good, and he’s under team control at a reasonable salary for the next few years, but I can’t agree with your assumption that Theo and Jed consider him untouchable.

      Those italicized words are the very reason he would bring in a nice haul from a competitive team looking to strengthen their rotation right now. The Cubs would be wise to position themselves for the future, if the opportunity presents itself. It’s all hypothetical, but fun to discuss.

  • BetterNews

    Brett—Please explain, a trade for what? What position or positions
    would you propose for an exchange for your top pitcher?

    I would counter with the fact That Matt Garza holds the highest value here,
    as a Cub.

    • Shawn

      1B, 2B, 3B, OF, and P. The Cubs have so few tradeable assets that can bring back quality and so many holes to fill. The Cubs would be doing themselves a disservice to at least not listen to offers. Theo and Jed have both said they need to improve the pitching depth. Theo has also said they will do things that may hurt the club in the short term, but help them in the long run. I don’t think the Cubs will actively shop Garza, but I don’t think they would turn down a deal that helps them either.

    • Brett

      Why did Colorado trade Ubaldo Jiminez when he was young, under control cheaply, effective, and a position of need?

      • Michael

        Because they were about the same as the Cubs this year (only won two more games), but already had a 23 year old out-pitching their ace, who was declining significantly after a career year (before the age of 30). They sold high on Jiminez while they had the chance because their faith in Chacin afforded them that luxury. There’s no one like that behind Garza, so I am yet another that hopes Chicago keeps him. The return would have to be mind-boggling.

        • Brett

          So, you’re saying they traded him knowing they weren’t going to compete in the year in which they traded him, with an eye toward improving for the future? Got it.

          • Michael

            Yeah, I did say that. I also said that they had a guy they saw as a ready replacement for Jiminez. So instead of getting to guys to hope would lead their rotation in a year or two, they had a guy to already be there to be their ace once they got to the show. The Cubs don’t have that, so they would be leaving themselves that much farther from competing. I also said they should trade him for a mind-boggling return, but I don’t think they should for a couple guys who might anchor in a few years. The new brass has already implied they don’t expect the fans to accept an obvious non-competitive team next year. That’s just the opinion of the way I see the trade that happened and the trade that could. Clearly I was just answering the question you posed with the detail you left out, and clearly you’ve still got the smug lawyer way of communicating in you, and I know it won’t matter with the momentum your site has built (it’s a great site, btw), but you just lost an avid reader. I’m finally bored enough with this amateur reporting to move on.

            • Michael

              For what it’s not worth, came back immediately after to delete this and send it to you in a private email, because whether I think that or not it’s not a public thing to say, but the edit button was gone. Oh well.

            • Brett

              I’m sorry you feel that way. I wasn’t smug when I was a lawyer (that’s probably why I didn’t last), and I’m not smug now. Sometimes the written word – particularly in short bits like comments – comes off that way. But, I’d like to think that, if you’ve been reading long enough (I’ve had thousands of posts and maybe 10,000 comments), you’d see that. Again, all I can say is I’m sorry you see it that way, and I find your reaction to be a bit over the top and abrupt, given that our dialog was a total of two comments.

              Best of luck. Hope you come back to this “great site” with “boring,” “amateur reporting.”

              (Ok, that last part bordered on smug. But you baited me.)

              • Michael

                I came back again to see if the edit button was back. I still can’t seem to take the comment down, so I hope you’ll do if for me, it has no place on your site. I actually have been reading a while, and recognized my reaction as abrupt. I’ve had my own share of the written word getting in the way of the spoken intent, so I should know better, that’s why I thought better of it, but only a bit too late. I do apologize.

                • Brett

                  Your apology is accepted, but totally unnecessary. I sent you an email, and I’m hoping we can go from there. (The edit button should be there if you’re logged in. I can remove/edit the comment for you if you’d like, but then my response will look like the ramblings of a crazy person…). As far as I’m concerned, we good.

                  Nothing to see here, everyone else. Moving on.

              • MichiganGoat

                Replacing “boring” with “short” and “amateur” with “informative”

                I’m not smug but I am a smarta**

  • cubsklm

    This team has no 3B, no 1B, no speed, poor defense at 2B and SS, and the poorest producing OF in the majors.

    While these are all reason I suppose to trade Garza, let’s not trade our best SP. Pitching is to hard to come by. We’ve got to field a team in 2012. Let’s not completely handicap our new manager.

    Theo and Jed have their work cut out for them, for sure.

  • Brian Peters

    Matt Garza holding the highest value here is not a FACT….it’s your opinion.

  • cubs4life

    I really dont see garza going anywhere, but if team X decides to offer us 2-3 above average prospects in return that are just a year or two away from the bigs, i think you would have to listen.. were probably not going to be able to compete next year, so why not stock pile your youth for the 2013 season..

  • BetterNews

    Brian—Name somebody on the current team that has more value than Garza.

    Not dollar wise, but “team value and future value”!

    • Brett

      Is this is a trick question? Starlin Castro.

      • BetterNews

        Brett—I’m sorry. I meant as far as pitchers go. My fault, I did not clarify.
        Surely there would be a major dilemma if Garza was to be traded. How
        does one even consider putting him on the trading block?

        Please justify a Garza deal.

        • Brett

          Thought maybe I was missing something.

          If the Cubs don’t believe competing in 2012 is realistic, it is conceivable that they’d make a trade with Garza that could net two (or more) ML-ready youngsters (very good ones), as well as a couple young, high-upside prospects. The move would set the Cubs up better for 2013 and beyond (and would save a little money on the way, which is obviously only a side benefit).

          Trading Garza might not be an affirmative desire, but the Cubs would be crazy not to listen to offers.

          • BetterNews

            Brett—I agree with everything you said except for one thing.
            I can’t see another team giving up that much for Garza.

            Hey, if your scenario would ever come to fruition, sure you
            consider it, I agree. I just don’t see it happening and I don’t think
            you play roulette with your best pitcher, just my opinion.

            I also would like to pose (2) questions with my comment. Do you agree
            that Garza is our “best” on our current Cub’s team?(Pitching)

            Do you think Dempster is overpaid? Looking forward to your reply.

            • Brett

              Yes, Garza is the “best,” yes, Dempster is overpaid.

  • Jim Kress

    I’m not going to sit here and say Garza is untouchable either, but he is considered our ace right now. And with the right pitching coach/manager *cough cough* Mike Maddux, he could be just as good as Verlander. Not too long ago Verlander too struggled with control, and once he honed it he became the dominance he is now. I’ve heard.from more then one baseball smart guy that Garza has the stuff to be just like him. And with that kinda potential you don’t want to just give that away for “prospects”

  • Cliffy

    For those that are baseball starved download Justin.Tv android app. Watching Zamrano vs. LaHair game..zambrano struck out LaHair for 2nd strokeout in first inning. App is free.

  • BetterNews

    Jim Kress—Agreed. But I think thats what makes him untouchable unless
    some team makes a outrageous proposition for the man.

    There is no way Theo trades Garza unless the other team fills the
    Cubs “bank” so to speak.

    I remember a certain pitcher by the name
    of Greg Maddux being mentioned in similar trade rumors that did happen!

    How did that turn out?

    I don’t think Theo is going to burn the furniture to heat the house!

  • Cliffy

    Brayan LaHair goes yard off Zambrano in 3rd inning. Zambrano down 2 to 0.

  • ACS

    Keep garza trade the error machine castro.

    • Rancelot

      From this point forward, every time I see ACS, I will think Ass Clown Syndrome. And yes, I realize that this post is about as productive as your collection of work. The fact that there are people criticizing a 21 year old shortstop, which along with pitcher and catcher is the most demanding position on the field, boggles my mind. Anyone who passes judgement on one’s fielding prowess by the number of errors he makes is roundly misinformed!

  • bhannon

    well thats one of the dumbest comments ive read on this site ACS

  • ACS

    Can we trade theo back to Boston for Josh Beckett then we will win the division.

  • BetterNews

    ACS—Go to sleep.