There will be a bunch on the managerial search coming up later this morning – including bits on Terry Francona and today’s interviewee, Sandy Alomar, Jr. – as well as a transcript (paraphrased) of Theo/Jed/Jason’s conference call with season ticket holders last night, and some Lukewarm Stovin’. Until then, bullets…

  • In said conference call, Theo Epstein said that he believes the Cubs are in the “sixth inning” of the managerial search, and carefully said (paraphrasing a bit), “we have another candidate or more to interview, and then we’ll enter into the decision-making phase.” I took it to mean that the Cubs will interview Alomar today, and then decide whether they’ve got their man in the four they’ve interviewed, or if they need to bring anyone else in. One piece of concern: when the Cubs move into the 9th inning of the search, will Carlos Marmol spill hot coffee on Mike Maddux’s lap, causing him to return to Texas?
  • Former Cubs’ prospect Donnie Veal is now a member of the Chicago White Sox. The lefty was an up-and-comer in the Cubs’ system after the 2008 season when he was snaked by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the Rule 5 Draft. He stuck with the Pirates for the required time in 2009, but didn’t pitch particularly well there. Scouts say he still has good stuff, but he’ll probably have to keep working it out in the minors. Veal is 27.
  • You won’t see Ernie Banks’ statue outside of Wrigley Field for a little while. Not unlike the Statue of Liberty, Ernie’s bronze statue was oxidizing, and turning green. So, it’s been sent to Peoria for some upkeep.
  • Some more on the possible hang-ups in the sale of the Astros, which is a necessary precursor to the Astros’ move to the AL. The sale could be approved next week at the owners’ meetings.
  • Cubs Den slams Bud Selig’s bizarre position with respect to hard slotting in the draft and questions whether it really helps small market clubs (a criticism with which I agree, and have been hammering in the bullets for months).
  • You can watch the Mesa Solar Sox (the Arizona Fall League team on which the Cubs’ prospects play) tonight on MLBN at 7pm CT. All of Junior Lake, DJ LeMahieu and Josh Vitters played yesterday for the Sox, and none had a particularly compelling outing.
  • Fishin Phil

    Thanks for the update on Donnie Veal.  I wondered what happened to him.

  • EtotheR

    Yesterday’s bit about Francona’s “deep down” desire to manage the Cubs seemed a little odd. Felt almost as though it was an agent’s plant to help him leverage the St. Louis job. If it gets the blogosphere working hard enough, it could impel Theo to have a more public discussion about it. It could also be nothing about nothing, and I could be going all conspiracy theory over friggin’ garbage. Which remains my right as an American…and a psychopath.
    Also…personality matters. Maddux owned that press conference, and handled it far better than any of the others. He was perfectly placed in the process…with another two having gone before, he was able to upstage them pretty quickly. And…I think it’s worked. He said a lot of the right things, showed his command for the game, gave glimpses of his approach, and was also likeable.
    He’s my choice, right now.

    • johnbres2

      Etother–I agree with you on all counts.  Great points on Francona, and Maddux did indeed own that press conference.  These guys all have good resumes, so I think personality (as demonstrated in the press conf) matters a lot.

  • Brandon – AA Correspondent

    I have been one of Junior Lake’s biggest critics, but the positive spins coming out of the AFL have me intrigued. I am hoing to eat my words in 2012, but am having trouble getting past my own personal verbal bashing of him during the 2011 season down the stretch when my fellow season ticket holders exclaimed “Junior is terrible….he absolutely looks lost at the plate….why is Harper continuing to run this guy out there?” Again, he has shown flashes of brilliance on defense, but I am really hoping he has learned how to hit a curveball. His speed was not something I marveled at, but apparently he has really improved that facet of his game in the AFL. Hoping for a great season from him in 2012. But am approaching him with caution.

    • Luke

      Lake has progressed more slowly than a lot of us hoped he would, but I wouldn’t write him off yet. It seems like he’s been in the system forever, but despite that he was young for AA last season.

      But if he can’t cut the strikeouts down to 20% or less, he’s going nowhere fast. I think the Cubs will need to be patient with this guy, but that patience could still pay off in a big way.

      Besides, if he can’t hack it at the plate, the Cubs will probably try to convert him into a pitcher. That arm of his could be formidable on the mound.

      • Brett

        If I remember correctly, Callis went so far as to say that Lake had the best arm of any positional player in all of the minors. It was something extreme like that, and Goldstein didn’t disagree.

        • Luke

          You got it.

          In last years Prospect Handbook, Callis comments that the Cubs were likely to try his arm on the mound if he didn’t start hitting. Right on schedule, he started hitting and got that promotion to AA.

          Callis also criticized his base running in that book. Looks like that is something Lake really worked on last off season, and the results have been good. That implies good things about this guy’s makeup.

          Still, 2013 is the earliest I think we are likely to see him.

  • Luke

    Does this mean that the Cubs sent Ernie Banks down to the minors?

    • Brett

      Ha. Indeed.

  • CubFan Paul

    isnt Lake our only “legitmate” 3B prospect thats anywhere close to the Bigs? they should give him til at least the summer of 2013 before taking his bat away

    • Luke

      I wouldn’t write off Vitters yet. Yes, his defense as been iffy, but he’s only one year older than Castro so the same defensive disclaimer applies. Vitters is by all accounts an extremely hard worker, so I think it is safe to say he won’t ignore that part of his game.

      At the plate, he has been showing more patience and selectivity, which is the weakness of his offensive game. If he came to the majors right away, I think he’d easily be a .270 / 15+ HR guy. I think his ceiling is more like .290 / 25+. I am of the opinion that he will wind up on first base or in left, but the Cubs aren’t giving up on him at third just yet.

      I wouldn’t dismiss Flaherty, either. He projects more as a super-sub, but since he bats left handed he would be the move valuable half of any second or third base platoon. He could easily wind up with 100+ starts at third next season, and I think he’d handle the job pretty well.

  • Toosh

    Is it possible Ernie’s statue is turning green over the Cards’ success in the postseason? Fu+++++ Cardinals!

  • Stinky Pete

    Yeah, but we still have Pawelek, right?

    • Brett

      And his busted Playstation.

      (Actually, no, he was released last year or the year before.)

  • Caleb

    “[W]ill Carlos Marmol spill hot coffee on Mike Maddux’s lap, causing him to return to Texas?”

    No. First he’ll bump into Maddux, spilling some coffee. Maddux will be upset. Then, he’ll show Maddux racy pictures of Mrs. Maddux. Maddux will be fuming, and Jed will be about to get Marmol outta the room. But Quade will race in and insist that Marmol be allowed to stay, and Marmol will subsequently kick Maddux in the junk. THEN, Maddux will return to Texas.

    That’s how we roll.

    • Brett

      Nicely done.