A very Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. May today, and the next 364, give you plenty of reasons to be thankful.
As expected, Dale Sveum isn’t having Mark Riggins back in 2012 as pitching coach. Instead, Sveum is zeroing in on an outside target: former teammate and current AAA Nashville pitching coach Chris Bosio. After his playing days, Bosio, 48, was a pitching instructor around the minors, and was the pitching coach for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2003 (under Lou Piniella). He soon after left that position for family/health reasons, and has been working his way back up the chain in the last few years – including a brief, interim stint as the Brewers’ pitching coach in late 2009. The Cubs asked the Brewers for permissions to speak to Bosio last week, and at least one report (from Paul Sullivan) says Sveum has offered Bosio the job. Given that the Cubs weren’t going to be able to get an “established” pitching coach at this point in the process, a guy like Bosio is about what I expected. Like Mark Riggins before him, it’s pretty hard to criticize the choice at this point. Pitching coaches come from somewhere.
The same article notes that, if Craig Counsell decides to retire, Sveum is likely to offer him a spot on his coaching staff. Giving how freaking annoying Counsell is to play against, and how much distances he’s gotten out of so little physical talent, I suspect he’s going to make a fine coach. I hope the Cubs get him.
Theo Epstein declined an interview about it, but sources say he’s predictably unhappy about the CBA changes to the draft and free agent compensation, both of which inhibit his prior-used strategies of paying many picks overslot and picking up a bundle of extra picks. Some ugly quotes from Cubs’ personnel: “It just became a slower and more difficult process’’ to build a player development machine, “the right to choose to focus predominantly on young players has been legislated away,” and “now, a team’s strategy is more or less dictated.” I guessed that the strategy was going to necessarily have to shift a bit to the big league level after the CBA changes, and it sounds like that’s the case. That said, scouting and player development are still a big part of the equation, and resources there don’t go only into player bonuses or the number of picks you have. Smart guys are still smart guys, and they tend to find a way to rise to the top. Arguably, having smart guys just became all the more important.
Jim Hendry anticipated the CBA changes earlier this year, and pushed Tom Ricketts to open up the checkbook in the 2011 draft, just in case. Points, Hendry. And Ricketts.
Random note: according to Jon Heyman, the Cubs – among many other teams – were not willing to offer Grady Sizemore an opportunity to play in center field next year, which is part of the reason he returned to the Indians. It was never assumed that Sizemore would be playing CF with the Cubs if he came to the team, but the fact that the Cubs were unwilling to offer the spot to him suggests one of many possibilities: Marlon Byrd is staying in CF as the starter, Brett Jackson is expected to come up and start in CF, or the Cubs want to leave open the possibility of someone like Yoenis Cespedes taking over at some point during the year. In other words, I guess it doesn’t mean anything. I just thought it was interesting.
Another random note: former top prospect and big league flameout Lastings Milledge is tearing up the Venezuelan Winter League while playing on a team managed by Daytona Cubs manager Buddy Bailey. Might Milledge, still just 26, get a Spring Training invite from a team like the Cubs?
Speaking of the VWL, Bryan LaHair’s time there is over. He finishes with a .951 OPS, but with 29 Ks in 24 games. Pitcher Jay Jackson, who is exposed to the Rule 5 Draft in a couple weeks, just started pitching there.
Details on the Dempster Family Foundation Holiday Auction and Pizza Party. Ice skating at Wrigley starts tomorrow.
This is a year where I’m particularly thankful in my life – healthy, sweet new baby, great new job (still working on holidays, though…), always excellent wife – but it’s also a pretty thankful year in the Cubs’ world. I’m thankful that Tom Ricketts “gets it,” and has put this organization on the path to, as the new guys like to say, “sustained success.” How about you?
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