Any other Michigan fans out there? Today marks the Wolverines’ best chance to finally win “The Game” in half a dozen years. Go Blue.

  • Japanese ace Yu Darvish was expected to be posted (or to be confirmed as not posting (i.e., made available to MLB teams)) within the last week or so. That has not happened, leaving teams interested in pursuing him – like the Cubs – in the lurch. New York Baseball Digest reported on Wednesday that Darvish “likely” will not be posted this Winter because his divorce proceedings are being delayed, and Darvish and his agent do not want to post until Darvish is unmarried (it sounds like Kanye West song).
  • But, about that last bullet: I’ve not been able to find a mainstream media source reporting the issue (the closest is Rotoworld, whose report traces back to the NY Baseball Digest piece). That’s not to say blog reports like this are necessarily bogus (um, hello); I’m only saying that it seems strange to me that this report would come out back on Wednesday, and no major source has yet picked it up and dug a little deeper. And, perhaps it’s the former lawyer in me, but this operative sentence, “his soon to be ex-wife’s lawyer … has already filed two depositions delaying their court appearance,” doesn’t make any legal sense (Japanese law could obviously be significantly different from here in the States, but you don’t “file” a deposition – you “notice” and “take” a deposition (with some exceptions not relevant here). And doing so doesn’t really “delay their court appearance,” depositions are typically built into the case schedule – what would “delay their court appearance” (whatever “court appearance” that is) would be some kind of request for an extension, or for a new case schedule. Again, things could be different in Japan, but it seems like whoever was conveying this information to NYBD may not have, like, known what they were talking about.)
  • Also, about that thing two bullets ago: both Jon Heyman and Jon Paul Morosi say Darvish is still more likely than not to be posted. Interesting side discussion going on on Twitter last night: if Darvish isn’t posted, doesn’t the trade market for Matt Garza develop even more strongly? The answer is certainly yes … but, of course, the Cubs won’t have a crack at Darvish this Winter (you may think me nuts, but I don’t see a fundamental conflict between (a) wanting to trade Matt Garza for multiple ML-ready pieces and (b) wanting to sign Yu Darvish with an eye toward competing in 2012 and beyond). Also, the increase in Garza’s market would only be by a factor of one pitcher.
  • Morosi reiterates the standing belief that all Cubs – he highlights Matt Garza, Sean Marshall, and Marlon Byrd – are available in “the right deal.”
  • Speaking of Garza, a Toronto Blue Jays writer calls him a “reasonable mid-rotation option.” Garza was the 13th best pitcher in baseball (by WAR) last year (and 8th best by FIP). When potential trade partners say things like “reasonable mid-rotation option” and “Garza” in the same sentence, let’s be sure to remind them of this fact. Over and over. And over.
  • A nice column on Josh Vitters and his development. As I always say: there are plenty of reasons to remain optimistic about the just-turned-22-a-couple-months-ago prospect.
  • Paul Sullivan wonders what cultural changes might come to the Cubs – jumbotron, no more “Cubbies” or “Go Cubs Go,” etc. It’s the kind of article you’d expect to see in the days after Thanksgiving. That doesn’t make it bad, mind you – just extra fluffy.
  • The Cubs have re-signed minor league free agent pitchers Justin Berg and Marco Carillo. The former has had a couple unsuccessful cups of tea, while the latter was just on the verge of it last year. The Cubs’ notable remaining free agent minor leaguers include Angel Guzman, Jeff Stevens, and Robert Coello, among others.
  • The Blue Jays asked the Red Sox for Clay Buchholz as compensation for manager John Farrell earlier this offseason. *Titters.*
  • hansman1982

    I REALLY hope the rest of the league sticks it to the Red Sox extra hard this winter for their obtuseness on the Theo mess.

    • MichiganGoat

      They have really painted a target on their backs, their childishness during this whole process has got to frustrate the rest of the owners and especially Emperor Bud (I believe Force lightening is coming very soon).  If they do bring in Bobby V. this team is going to quickly become the most talented team in baseball that goes nowhere and Boston is going to give themselves another curse for their ineptitude during this whole mess.

      Future Prediction:  In a couple of weeks Emperor Bud will step in and “aggressively negotiate” a settlement.  He will give the Red Sox a list of A-ball talent and tell them to pick one and everything will be done.  Then we get to read the Boston media cry and complain how they got screwed and deserve Castro + Garza but instead settled “for the best of baseball” for Johnny A-Ball. When the Cubs win the WS, Boston will say it was because the graciously gave us Theo and didn’t get WS MVP Castro (whom they deserved)  because they didn’t want to the “bad guy.”

      Boston = AL Cardinals

  • Cliffy

    Junior Lake update from the Dominican League. He was 1 for 2, he walked once then stole a base. The hit was a homerun. No errors.

    • Red Power

      I am looking forward to seeing Junior Lake at spring training

      • Luke

        If any of you live near Tennessee or Iowa, you might want to consider taking a look at him when he comes through town. Cheaper, closer seats at minor league games, and autographs are a lot easier to come by.

  • Katie

    Hansman and MG, I completely agree.

  • Eric Hanauer

    Thanks for the link to the Vitters article. Good stuff.

    • EtotheR

      Yup…I liked that, too.

  • Michael Caldwell

    I would have to disagree with Mark Whickers on Josh Vitters. Yes, he has been young for every league he has played in, but that Walk % is atrocious, and if Whickers knew anything about Theo and Jed, he’d know that was one of the first things they looked at. If you want see where Vitters is going, one should look at hitters who took similar tracts.

    Take a look at Jeff Francoeur’s minor league career.

    It’s eerily similar, and that is where I think Vitters is heading, until he realizes that just because he can put the bat on a particular pitch doesn’t mean he should. Frenchy didn’t really strike out a lot as a minor leaguer either. Like Vitters, his ability to make contact and put balls in play that are not strikes plays better at the minor league level, but that suddenly changes at the major league level.

    I think that, when major league pitchers figure out what Vitters is all about, his strikeout totals are going to skyrocket, just like Francoeur’s did.

    Don’t get me wrong. There is a lot to like about Vitters, if you are Dusty Baker and you think walks just clog the bases that is.

    • CubFan Paul

      grrrr. Damn walks..

    • Luke

      There is one significant point of difference between Vitters and Francoeur. Vitters knows he is not selective enough at the plate and has been working heavily on that for some time. And we are seeing improvement. It is slow improvement, but on that count his age is in his favor. He may never walk 100 times a season, but if he’ll stay patient enough to make pitchers throw him strikes he’ll be fine.

      2012 is big for him. If he can harness his swinging ways, he stands to put up some very nice numbers in the PCL.

    • Kyle

      I think this post really misunderstands the Epstein/stathead position.

      Consider the following two statements:

      “Walks are important and underrated.”

      “You can’t possibly be a useful player if you don’t take a lot of walks.”

      The former can be true without the latter being true. And that’s exactly the truth, and I’m fairly certain that’s how Epstein sees it.

      Vitters’ lack of walks makes it much more challenging for him to be a consistently successful player, absolutely. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible, he just has to excel in other areas. He already has a huge plus hit tool. He just needs to add at least one of the following, and maybe two: More walks, plus power, ability to play adequate defense at a premium defensive position. The walks are probably never going to happen, but there are still promising signs for the defense and the power.

      Francoeur is not a convincing comp for a number of reasons, to me.

      First, Francouer is a corner outfielder. Vitters is now, and presumably will continue to be, a 3b. The offensive standards are much different. If Vitters can’t stick at 3b, he’s useless unless he completely changes as a hitter. But if he can, and he puts up Jeff Francouer’s offensive career, then we’ve gotten a fairly useful player. I’d have no problem getting Jeff Francouer’s first six seasons of offense from six years of a cost-controlled 3b.

      Second, the skill sets just don’t mesh. Francouer may never have taken as many walks as he should have, but he doesn’t have Vitters’ contact ability. Francouer struck out in 17% of his minor league plate appearances. Vitters in 14.7%. That’s a significant difference.

  • MichiganGoat

    If Darvish is going through a messy divorce I can see that being a real hindrance to him being posted, speaking from experience divorce makes everything more complicated. If you’ve been through that ridiculous and unnecessary drama you’d know how logic is never part of the process.

    • Brett

      Yeah, I should emphasize – I make no comment on whether Darvish’s divorce COULD delay his posting (it absolutely could).

    • Katie

      About to go through it myself. I’m irritated and the process hasn’t even started. It hasn’t started because I can’t afford it since I moved out on my own. If his ex is a vindictive bitch she’ll make sure it takes forever.

      • MichiganGoat

        Sorry, its a process I only wish on my most hated adversary. If there is  advice I can give, be calm with all your interactions with the ex, get everything in writing, and use a mediator if you can.  I found BN as great therapy during my divorce, it really got my mind off of everything and gave me something actually enjoyable to complain about- the Chicago Cubs

        • Larry

          Well put. I found during my own divorce that the more ways I could find to take my mind off of it, to focus on things that I enjoyed (golf or making new friends for example) did wonders in helping me move on. The worst thing to do is to close yourself off from the rest of the world and remain focused on what is going on. I have a friend that did that, he still is not over his divorce and that has been almost 10 years for him.

        • Katie

          Great advice, MG. So far (I know, I know) we agree on everything. He just thinks I should pay for it since I’m the one who left. Delightful.

          Thank God for Bleacher Nation and all the Cubs drama. Keeps my mind off of it all. I’ll quit whining now.

          • Sweetjamesjones

            Katie, that sucks. Good luck with everything.

          • MichiganGoat

            Just don’t forget “This is not a dating site”

            • Katie

              Lemonade is not meant to be snorted out one’s nose. Ow! Thanks for the reminder, MG. I thought I was on My search parameters were “kick ass guys who love the Cubs”.

              And thank you for the kind words, James.

              • Ron

                My moto was “don’t Shit where you eat” in regards to dating out of my favorite bar…but I married a waitress. Anyway good luck.

            • Sweetjamesjones

              “Just don’t forget “This is not a dating site””

              That made me literally laugh out loud at work.

  • Cliffy

    Brett, In Theo’s incoming news conference he talked about building the best scouting department in the game. The boots on the ground type of scouts that find the next hidden gem player that is overlooked by others. Do the Cubs make announcements on these type of hires? We all know they do on the upper echelon types but not so sure on the guys that beat the bushes. If they actually follow thru in this area could be the next “competitive advantage” they could exploit.

  • LouCub

    Katie, i’m sorry for what you’re going through, hopefully everything works out for the best and soon!!! The Cubs and this site are a really good way to keep your mind off things..

    • Katie

      Thanks Lou!

  • LouCub

    Guys Vitters is going to be fine..My issue and the reason that we never saw much improvement in Vitters patience as a hitter is due to organizational defencies about plate discipline, taking walks, going the other way, hitting and running etc… Someone new needs to work with him on these issues because it’s obvious that those before him didn’t do their job with him or anyone else coming up and that’s one of Hendry’s failures as a GM.. Theo and company get this..MacLeod said something along the lines of telling the youngsters what is expected of them from early on..Did the past regime do this?? I think not..remeber Dusty, “wals clog the bases??”

    • Luke

      I actually think we saw some improvement in plate discipline across the minors in 2011. It has been a problem area in the past, but I think that tide had started to turn even before Theo arrived. OBP should be a much greater priority under the regime. It’ll be nice to see how that affects some of the promising speedsters lower down, guys like Watkins, DeVoss, Szczur, Crawford, and so on.

  • BPaoni

    I’m gonna use all your comments as reference material to show my girlfriend why it’s better to not get married!

  • kubphan82

    I often read, first-time post…

    In Yu, I’m not sold, especially throwing in a posting fee and his impending “Days of Our Lives” drama with his divorce. Why don’t we hear about Wei-Yin Chen from the Chinese Taipei, who does not require a posting fee, is a lefty, is 26, and we have other Taiwanese players to aid in his transition to our beloved Cubs. He projects as a ceiling 3 SP and as a 5 SP for his low projection. Forget the history of the NPB, a four year deal worth $20 million for a lefty who has a low walk ratio, has a real pitchers arm slot (no gimmicks)…. He’s kept his pitch counts down, unlike the mileage of Yu… Fastball, slider, forkball, curve, cutter… With a top out of 95MPH, consistent last year at 91MPH, after dealing with a leg injury… In this market, why don’t we hear the Cubs commenting on this type of investment…

    • Luke

      As far as we know, the Cubs are in on Chen, and given the Cubs large investments in Taiwan in the past few seasons, they are likely the front runners.

      The reason we don’t hear about him is because he is dwarfed in the media by Darvish. The coverage goes to the bigger name, and Darvish is a much bigger name. Don’t let the media silence mislead you, though. The Cubs may not sign him, but as far as we know they are in the mix.

    • CubFan Paul

      there’s been talk of Chen around here (kinda) ..i think Chen will be the free agent sleeper of the pitchers this offseason

      • kubphan82

        I understand the coverage with Yu and the MLB. I suppose I wish to hear more about other players linked to the Cubs as opposed to a bidding war for Yu… There’s reason to believe that either Chen or Darvish COULD be the next Igawa or Dice-K or Irabu… At least with Chen the investment doesn’t leave us infamously tied to another bad contract. I’d rather see the Cubs sign a player with known MLB ability (Jackson) or low cost (Chen) than the risk/reward/bust (Darvish).

  • Luke

    Glad to see the Cubs resigned Carrillo in particular. He had a pretty good season last year, and really would not be surprised to see him contributing out of the bullpen in a year or so. He had some late season success as a starting pitcher as well. His career will almost surely be in middle relief or as a back end starter.

  • The Underdog

    Chen re-signed with the Royals for 2 years and $9 mill.

  • BPaoni

    Are you guys talking about Bruce Chen? He re-signed with KC about a day or two ago.

    • kubphan82

      @Bpaoni and Underdog

      In my first post I mentioned his full name: Wei-Yin Chen… After that point, I can see some of the confusion…

      Bruce Chen is also from Panama, not Taiwan…

    • Luke
  • Eric

    Oh my God, have ALL of you been divorced? I’m never getting married, and now I don’t feel so bad.

    • Vinestal

      Don’t get married, it’s a terrible idea. It seems like a great idea at a point and then after you realize what a mistake it was. Most married guys end up divorced or wishing they were divorced or wishing they had just never gotten married to begin with.

      • hogie

        That’s foolish, I love being married. I love knowing that no matter what battles come in life, I have someone there by my side. I love coming home from a long day’s work, sitting down with my best friend, my arm around her as we read books or watch a game with my son. Make no mistake, making it work takes work, just like anything else in life worth having. I don’t want to get into a debate about it, but sometimes I feel that people give up too quickly. I’m sure at some point you wanted to quit a sport, or drop out of college because it got tough for a bit, but if you stuck it out, you know the satisfaction it brings. I’m done preaching, but marrying my wife was the best move I have EVER made.

        • hansman1982

          I think you said the key phrase – best friend – too many people get married just because they dont have a reason to break up with that person or because they think it is what they are supposed to do and divorce is easier than staying with the person. Kudos to you for finding the right one.

        • Eric

          That’s wonderful for you. But know, your situation is very rare, which is why so many people divorce. What is it more than 60% now?

  • die hard

    What in the world were Theo, Hoyer, Sveum et al thinking when signing Darvish to guaranteed 7 yr contract at 50 mil? oops….get back in the bag….saving that one for Oct 2012 after he goes 3-8 with 4.50 era and has been on disabled list for 60 days with bum arm

    • die hard

      What I mean is, scout him wisely. I have no doubt he can be a star and I trust theo and gang to make a good choice.

      • die hard

        Nice impersonation buddy…..I must be striking a nerve….glad to see someone is paying attention….using my handle is best form of flattery…much appreciated….now if you would only grow a brain, the wizard will let you into oz

        • Brett

          The Scarecrow already lived in Oz sans brain.

  • curt

    i was married for 19 yrs until my wifes passing a yr ago and we were almost twice in those 19 yrs actually really longer lived tgether fr 7 more and its a nice feeling that someone always has yr back and yr best interest ah heart, id do it again in a heartbeat if the right woman were to come along, but on the oether hand most of my friends have been divorced and someof those went well and some were very unpleasant, so as far as this concerns darvish none of any of you understands his position everyone of theses situations is unique, if kids are involved, if he gets posted alot of money , and shed be entitled if they were still married unless an agreement was reached between him and his wife, so give the guy a break, if he ends up a cub great if he doesent come to mlb at all so be it, hope it all ends well for him and his family.

  • Barney S

    Rule Number 1. Don’t even THINK about getting married til you’re 30
    Rule Number 2. Shave your goatee, it doesn’t go with your suit
    Rule Number 3. Get a suit. Suits are cool. Exhibit A (Me)

    • RoughRiider

      Rule Number 4. Marriage isn’t the end of courtship.
      Rule Number 5. Men and women do not speak the same language.
      Rule Number 6. Listen
      Rule Number 7. Lose your ego.
      Rule Number 8. Compromise.
      Rule number 9. Love God with all of your heart and all the other rules won’t matter.

      • hogie

        I like it! I am not overly religous, but the others are spot on.

  • MichiganGoat

    Wow, I love how the board takes a life of its own. A comment on Yu’s divorce has lead to a long debate on the merits of marriage.

  • Katie

    I love it too! As we well know the board does not exist in a vacuum. We are all humans (well, most of us) that come from different perspectives and backgrounds. It’s kind of nice hearing peoples views on marriage. For the record, I believe in marriage. I just got married too young and he was not my best friend.