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In years past, there have been a number of big signings – if not trades – over the weekend before the Winter Meetings, so, stand by, I guess. More on the CBA and a hearty Lukewarm Stove later today. Until then, Bullets…

  • It’s early, but, for now, David DeJesus is expected to be the Cubs’ leadoff hitter in 2012. Though not a huge base-stealing threat, DeJesus sees a lot of pitches, gets on base at a decent clip, and is a very good baserunner. The lineup could still shake out any number of ways, but here’s hoping the next three spots look something like Castro, Headley, Fielder …
  • Keith Law says Andrew Cashner could be one of the best relievers in baseball, but believes the Cubs should still give him a look as a starter. The best way to do that, according to Law, is to let Cashner pitch out of the pen this year – but for longer stints, which will get him near 80 innings on the year, and put him in a position to start in 2013 (which is actually how things played out with Jeff Samardzija, for what it’s worth). Keep in mind, Cashner is coming off – essentially – a season-long shoulder injury, and has never thrown more than 115 innings in a professional season.
  • Jed Hoyer recently said it was “fair” to consider Bryan LaHair primarily a first baseman. If that’s true, and he isn’t going to be the starter, is there a spot for him on the roster next year? Not if all of Jeff Baker, Blake DeWitt, Tony Campana and Tyler Colvin are going to be on the roster.
  • Rick Morrissey says the Cubs should go after Albert Pujols (but does so by way of a convoluted “I’m the only one who thinks 2011 was an anomaly, and Pujols wasn’t bad in 2011″ way. Rick: nobody thinks Pujols was bad in 2011), and takes to task folks who say signing Pujols to a huge deal would be a mistake (such people, Morrissey says, include those who “have spent the past month parsing everything Theo Epstein has uttered in news conferences.” Wonder whom he might be referring to there.).
  • Deadspin has been blowing up Pujols’ agent, Dan Lozano, for a couple weeks now. I make no conclusions about the veracity, but … ugly stuff.
  • Multiple sources say Aramis Ramirez is expected to get an offer from the Los Angeles Angels soon. Fine. Good luck. Wish you’d accepted a trade there in 2011.
  • The Cubs will hold a tree-lighting ceremony at Wrigley Field tomorrow at 5pm CT, hosted by Ernie Banks and Tom Ricketts, to be followed by a free hour of ice skating. Sometimes it’s ok to just think something is sweet. We don’t have to be cynical about everything.
  • BN reader John wanted to make spots in his season ticket group available to other BN readers. The gist: John is a long time season ticket holder with 8 seats in the first row of section 235, looking for new members in his group. Tickets are divvied up thusly: Full membership – 80 tickets, 19 games of 4, 2 of 2 (White Sox & Red Sox), 1/2 membership – 40 tickets, 9 games of 4, 2 of 2. Per game average is $48/ticket. If you or a “mini group” are looking for a way to get into a season ticket share for 2012, shoot John an email: JohnJNolanJr AT yahoo.com.
  • Meta: someone (or someones) among you has (have) been submitting BN articles to Stumbleupon. I just wanted to say: thanks. You’re awesome. One of many random, anonymous cool things that you folks seem to do on a regular basis. It does not go unappreciated.
  • Roland Perrelli

    I would agree that Cashner should pitch out of pen this year as long relief. It will be interesting how they handle spell check this(Samardzija) next year and how he responds. Let’s hope this weekend we have a Fielder signing though that will not probably happen till after winter meetings. Speaking of winter meetings Brett do you one of those wrist bands the way you are updating your blog we do not want you to get carpal tunnel. You should also stock up on some Red Bull or whatever your preference.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Given how nuts the week *before* the Winter Meetings has been around here, I can only imagine what next week will be like.

  • MC2

    You can always stick Cashner in the closers role like they did Dempster years back and let him transition back to longer stints out of the pen or the starting role once he proves healthy. Not down and out on Marmol just for the simple fact Quade ran him out there an over abundant amount, but if you can trade him and get a couple good guys for him so be it! Question for anyone, if LaHair goes the Japan route is he just released or is there some sort of compensation for him?

  • Bails17

    Brett….what are you thoughts on Alberto Callaspo at 3rd?  With Ramirez likely to get an offer from the Angels…this would make Callaspo a trade candidate for sure.  Looks to me like he has very similar numbers to Headley…and could be slightly better defensively.  It makes sense to me.

    • Smitty

      Interesting thought, Bails. Who did they just pick up at the catcher’s position again?

      • Bails17

        They just picked up Iannetta.  But Marmol would still of interest to them for sure.  It will all depend on if they feel Ramy is there full time third basemen or not.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Would be interesting to me, though the Angels may be thinking of rotating a bunch of guys, such that Ramirez wouldn’t be the full-time 3B – i.e., he’d also see a lot of time at DH. They have a lot of balls up in the air right now.

      • Bails17

        I here you Brett…question is…who do you like better:  Headley or Callaspo?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          It’s almost amazing how close they are in so many ways (almost same age, same contract situation, similar defense, similar offense). I’d probably go with Headley, without knowing a bit more about the defensive difference.

          • Smitty

            Not to mention, Hoyer knows what Headley can do and cannot do after watching him last year.

          • Lou

            The thing about Callaspo though (and I’ve been advocating for him as well) is that, like DeJesus, he takes a lot of pitches and walks more than he SO. Don’t know much about Headley.

  • nonesuch

    Brett, have you just id’ed yourself as in the “get Fielder” camp? Is Headley #3 hitter material?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yup, I’m officially pro-Fielder. Doing the “Case For”/”Case Against” thing got me very close, and something that will be noted in the upcoming Lukewarm Stove sealed it.

      As for Headley, I do (at least in the way the Cubs lineup might look), especially with a guy like Fielder behind him. Decent power, good contact, takes pitches. Good overall hitter.

      • JB88

        A lineup of DeJesus, Castro, Headley, and Fielder is nice, but I sort of wish they’d swap either Headley and Fielder or Castro and DeJesus. Call me old fashioned, but I like a true R,L,R,L (or vice versa) lineup leading off.

        • Bails17

          JB88….I actually like Castor – DeJesus – Headley – Fielder….for one reason…I like Castro in the lead off spot vs the 2 hole becuase he uses the middle of the field so much…I don’t know if inserting him into the 2 hole makes him more susceptible to the DP with DD on 1st.  With Castro on…this gives the big hole on the right side for DeJesus.  And if need be…I would rather have DD be the one to have to lay down a bunt and move a guy over vs Castro.  What are some other thoughts on this?

          • JB88

            I hadn’t thought about that. I actually like Fielder at 3 better than 4, anyway. My one thought on Castro batting 1st is that I think he’d get more hittable pitches. With his care-free swinging style, having DeJesus on base will lead to Castro getting less pitches that he can really drive. That said, if any hitter is capable of hitting pitches out of the zone, it would be Castro.

            Needless to say, I’d like to see more of a break up than potentially having a Castro-Headley back-to-back.

            • Bails17

              Man…I like Headley in front of Fielder….either way you slice it…they are going to be VERY careful with PF…Headley is the kind of guy who could really benefit from hitting in front of him.  Very patient…takes a lot of pitches….switch hitter….if you have Prince in the 3 hole….it kinda defeats the purpose a bit.

              IMO…Castro would do just fine in either the 1 or 2 hole…but according to the splits….he hit into 7 DPs batting 2nd in 184 PAs vs only 5 DPs in 335 PAs leading off.  Again…he just hits so many HARD ground balls up the middle!  For that reason…I like him leading off.

              • CubFan Paul

                good point about hitting into double plays

                i’m digging the Blake DeWitt for Rox 3B ian stewart rumors. i’d rather have a slugging 3B like Stewart in the lineup over Headley ..and apparently Stewart will be way cheaper (in terms of prospects given up)

                • Bails17

                  The problem with Stewart is no one knows if he is going to be healthy or not…isn’t that the case?

                  • CubFan Paul

                    im not sure, i’ve been bumpin around Rox websites to see if he was replaced by injury or by a younger cheaper stud

      • JAB

        Brett, your “case for” is what got me on board.  Looking at FA’s coming in the next couple years and looking at the lack of power coming up through the farm system persuaded me to lean heavily towards signing Fielder.  He’s still young and Theo and Co. wont be as idiotic as Hendry to give everyone and their mother a no trade clause.  I wonder if Hendry gave all the food vendors a no trade clause as well.

  • EQ76

    “Sometimes it’s ok to just think something is sweet. We don’t have to be cynical about everything.”

    You’re pretty “die hard” about that statement aren’t you?

  • Mike Foster

    Wow, that was ugly….but riveting. Read the whole thing. Reminds me of the saying about sausage, you don’t really want to see how it’s made.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      If you mean the Lozano stuff, yeah. That sausage analogy is apt.

  • JAB

    Newbie here guys, but I just wanted to say I’ve read for awhile and you guys have some great insight and entertaining thoughts when it comes to this team.  I think this site is great and very well run and contributed to. 

    That being said, I’d like to identify myself as a “get Prince Fielder” guy.  from what I’ve read the Brewers are offering him 6 years 120 mil.  I’d go 6 years 150 without hesitation.  6 years puts him at 33/34 years old which is where you will definitely see diminishing returns on the guy.  I’m not sure if 6/150 gets it done but I’d feel good about 25 mil a year for fielder as long as it’s not for 8 years.

    I’d also take flyers on Bedard and Maholm for the starting rotation.  I think both can be had for a good value. Yes both have had injury problems but their upside is much better than someone like Capuano.  Starting pitching has to be first and foremost but what good is picking someone like Capuano who really has no upside.  Bedard has shown when healthy he can be unhittable and I think we all have been tired of watching Maholm make Cubs batters look stupid.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Good stuff, JAB. And welcome.

    • ferrets_bueller

      I’m a guy who immediately said “no!” on going after Fielder. However, if the brewer’s numbers are true, and if thats what he goes for (or anywhere below 5 or 6 years, 150 million), then I actually dont really have a problem with it. I fully expect him to fall off a cliff around age 31, but the first part of the contract, and the fact that its NOT an 8 year deal, make it worth it IMO.

    • BetterNews

      JAB—I am assuming you mean Paul Maholm, the ex -pirate? Forget it! I’ve got a list of pitchers that made Cubs batters look stupid, does that mean we sign them all?. You don’t pick a player up for that reason. I think Theo knows that.

      But, anyway, welcome JAB, just don’t JAB me anymore.

  • ferrets_bueller

    Was the Rick Morrissey article ghost written by Jim hendry? Jesusf’nchrist…. Two phases pretty much sum it up: Paying for past performance, and extreme shortsightedness.

  • Hawkeyegrad

    I’m in the pitching is the #1 priority camp and if signing Prince in anyway impacts our ability to fill out the rotation with young quality starters, I would take a pass on him. However, I’m starting to come around to the “they can afford it camp” as long as they don’t go beyound 6 years/$25 million.

    I’m not sure if I’m looking at this correctly but assuming payroll stays the same I think you have around $37 million to spend (Fukudome $12 million, Aramis $15 million, and Pena $10 million). If you can move Soriano and save $4 million per year on his salary (Colvin, Jackson or Lahair to LF) and you reallocate money to the major league payroll due to the new CBA rules (approximately $6 million). You would have another $10 million available or $47 million assuming no Cuban signings (it sounds like they are real interested in Soler though).

    Getting Dejesus is a good start. He looks to put up somewhat similiar numbers as Fukudome for $7 million less. That leaves the Cubs with around $42 million per year to spend on pitching, 3rd base, and 1st base. If they get a Headley at 3rd at $3 million per, that leaves you with $39 million for 1st and pitching. That is enough to get Prince at $25 million per year and leaves $13 million to spend on the rotation (assuming Garza and Zambrano remain in the rotation.) When Zambrano and Dempster come off the books next year that will open up another $33 million to spend.

    In this scenario, you take offensive downgrades in LF and 3rd base while significantly upgrading defensively in those spots and you significantly upgrade offensively at at 1st base while downgrading defensively. The pitching will be improved with a couple additional quality starters and a healthy Wells and Cashner. Net/net that sounds like an improved club.

    On another note, don’t the Cubs have to wait until Aramis and Pena either decline arbitration (Dec 7th) or sign with somebody else to make a deal at 1st or 3rd or else they risk the possibility (albeit low) of signing someone and then being stuck with Aramis or Pena too? If that is the case, I would not expect those signings/trades until after the 7th.

    • Larry

      You forgot to mention that Silva’s money comes off the books in 2012 too.

  • Brian

    I have one question here. Why doesn’t anyone want to give Lahair a shot at first? I know he is not on the same par as Pena defensively, but I can see him giving us better offensive output. Hopefully Castro will improve his throwing skills so we will not need someone with Pena’s defensive ability. I know i read an article somewhere about Castro just needing to get his footwork better and that will improve his fielding, believe that was Svem who stated that, can’t remember where. We control Lahair for CHEAP and if he pans out than it would free up a LOT of cash for the rotation. Which is where we need the most focus right now. I say give the kid a shot, he did pretty well when called up at the end of the year, and put up monster numbers at AAA. Who know he could be the next Prince Fielder and we might not even know it.

    • Shawn

      For me, it has more to do with the new CBA and the way things are going as far as teams locking up elite players earlier. Its possible there may not be an impact player available in free agency next season. It may not be fair, but we are talking about a 30 year old career minor leaguer. While there are a couple of proven commodities available. What if they do wait for one of the kids to develop and they don’t pan out? Then the Cubs are left hoping someone hits free agency or gutting your farm system to get one. I would have said pass on Fielder or Pujols a couple of weeks ago. But the new CBA has put a wrinkle in developing from within.

      • Lou Cub

        No way to Pujols, Fielder at 27 is entering his prime…..Pujols at 31 is near the end of his prime and going south

      • Jeff

        There are no big time lefty power hitters hitting free agency for quite some time after Fielder.  I think the next big power hitter to come free will be Mike Stanton, and that’s if the Marlins aren’t going to spend at their market level from here out.  I keep looking through the young power hitters and I don’t see any that will be free until at least 2015, and the ones that are, have a good chance at being locked up before then.  Do the Cubs wait that long?  Do they sign the big bat while they have the chance?  Or do they wait for a few years and trade for one with what is hopefully a fully stocked system of prospects?

    • BetterNews

      Brian—-There no way in hell LaHair is gonna be a Fielder one day. I doubt anyone rembers his name in two yars as a matter of fact. I think he winds up in Japan.

      • Lou

        Maybe he’s compensation for Theo and he DH’s for the Red Sox.

        • BetterNews

          That could be!

        • BetterNews

          Lou—And what is the deal with the compensation issue anyway? I have not heard anything, have you?

          • Lou

            No.

  • Cheryl

    Brian, i’m puzzled too. I agree give him a shot. He could solve a lot of problems if he continues like he did at the end of the season. I don’t recall him being error-prone either and he was shuffled aound the outfield with very limited time to play first base. Also, he could be the bridge to the kids that were just drafted for first base. Theo has talked about developing from within. Well, this may be his chance to put his words into practice. I’d rather see them go after pitching, second base, third base and a different catcher than to try for Fielder or Pujols.

    • Lou

      Problem is…who for pitching. There just isn’t much available. Hard also to say if pitchers will sign extensions with their current teams and take them off the FA market next year (i.e Cole Hammels or Matt Cain). Plus the Cubs will MOST certainly be competing with Boston and New York for the better FA starters in 2013. The Cubs won’t be doing this with Fielder.

    • Brian

      I think we should give him a shot, I know there will not be another Fielder in free agency next year, but if we keep him, shore up the pitching and he provides 2 to 3 years of decent production then we could go after who I really want for the Cubs next year if he hits free agency. Robinson Cano… If the Yankees are smart they will sign him to another contract but we can always hope.. Slugging first basemen are easier to find than a slugging second basemen. If Lahair gives us the 3 years then hopefully we have one of our draft pics ready to take over at the time. I’m sure Theo and Jed have already noticed we are light on position players in the minors. We are light in general in the minors with decent prospects since Hendry liked to trade them like it was cool.

  • Lou Cub

    Guys the thing about LaHair is that he hasn’t been up long enough for opponents to adjust to him..Granted he might be great but he could also be another Micah Hoffpauir..I wasn’t pro Fielder but the more I think about it, if we could get him on a 5 or a 6 six year deal I’d be totally for it..No more 8 year adventures..Plus we are sure about his age, unlike Soriano who maybe 39 or 40 instead of his listed 36..I’d be shocked if we don’t get Prince.. Really shocked!! I think Soriano has to go first and I think he’ll be moved next week

    • Cheryl

      At some point with minor leaguers don’t we have to take a chance? LaHair may not be it, but somewhere along the line we can’t keep getting retreads from elsewhere? I’m not saying Fielder is a retread, but if the minor leaguers work their way up to a certain point and we always go out and buy a veteran, what kind of a message does it send? Fielder is a darn good player. But is he what we need? I’m not sure.

      • Lou Cub

        Cheryl, arguably, 1b is the weakest position in the whole Cubs farm system..The closest thing we have to a future stud 1b may be Dan Vogelbach and since he was drafted out of high school and is still only 18 he may be 3+ years away from making an impact on the parent club..I blame Hendry, when he dealt away DeRosa, Lee, Lilly etc he never went after a young first baseman and asa matter of fact DeWitt is the only position player he aquired in those 3 deals.. I’m for giving kids a shot no doubt, but until Theo took over we never had a GM or Manager who sincerly would give kids a shot.. Quade sabatouged Colvin and threw Castro and Barney under the bus numerous times…Piniella and Dusty loved vets…Fielder at 27 would be solid and he fits a need..we’d be getting him in his prime unlike Soriano who was past it.

        • BetterNews

          Lou Cub—How can you say Quade “sabotaged Colvin. Colvin had plenty of opportunity and just could not deliver. A .155 BA is not gonna cut it anywhere. Colvin just can’t hit anything but belt high fastballs, and that’s all there is to it. Also Barney sure wasn’t short changed. Whether he should be the starting 2nd baseman can be debated. And how was Castro thrown under the bus?

          • Lou Cub

            @ BetterNews….Hendry’s last offical deal was to move Fukodome so that Colvin would play regularly and Mr Clean never gave him consistent at bats..He’d put him in to pinch hit early in the season, he didn’t produced and was ignored….same way he ignored LeMehieu when he was called up in late May and the same way he threw Castro and Barney under the bus..I’m glad the jerks gone!!! He didn’t have the organization first, i was all about him…

            • BetterNews

              I was not a Quade fan and yes “some” of what he did “might” have been done to protect his job. The thing with Quade was he took a “NO WIN” situation when he accepted the job. There was no way the Cubs were going to compete, Cash and Wells went down in April, and everything just went south quickly. You are entitled to your opinion about Quade, but if you really took an “unbiased” view at what Quade did, he was not going to manage no matter what and did the best with the cards he was dealt. Again, I dont think Colvin is major league material.

      • CubFan Paul

        there’s no one in the minors that’ll be MLB ready in 5-6yrs, so Fielder is exactly what the Cubs need ..they drafted a bunch of 17/18yr old first basemen this year, no 22yr olds, ..it’ll be a while

      • Brian Myers

        I do agree. But LaHair, for instance, is likely a big league .270-.280 hitter with 20 HR power playing 1B. Also, at age 29, right now he’s probably at his peak. Fielder is likely has an extra good year (due to being slightly younger) and should provide 15+ more HR’s a year. So for equivalent (total team) production value with LaHair starting at 1B you’ll need to get another guy on the roster with .280(ish) hitting and 25-30 HR’s a year and/or use the money to invest in depth or pitching.

        This is tough, it’s like a good game of chess. You have a strategy, but depending on your opponents moves the middle and end games can be played out in different ways and still get a positional/piece advantage. You know your pawns (players from the minors) could someday be you most powerful pieces, but you need to support them while you develop your position. The Cubs are developing their pawn structure while attempting to open a rank for a powerful piece of two to put pressure on their division rivals.

        Ick… that felt like a “Big Bang Theory” kind of answer… ;-)

  • Lou Cub

    I for one can’t wait till Monday!!!! I want deals, deals and more deals!!!

  • BetterNews

    There a few people within the organization that think Cashner is capable of starting, and in fact might again start in 2012.

  • http://google louslew

    I don’t respond on here or anywhere else very often but I read all of Brett’s entries and probably 75% of all post’s and I must say that I am very skeptical about a 5-6 year contract for Prince Fielder. I would think a 3 year contract at 100 million would be my limit. I want to see how that FAT wallet effects his attitude towards playing the game. I also think our new manager should be consulted thoroughly before offering even my suggestion. At 30-31 years when that 3 year contract expires he would still have time for another fat contract. Also remember, don’t get your hopes up too high, the Yankees have not even entered this dicussion yet. As I said I am skeptical.

    • BetterNews

      Prediction–Cubs outbid Yankees on Fielder if Yanks make any kind of move, which I doubt. Really, can you see the Yanks moving Teixeira?

    • BetterNews

      Teix has no trade clause and other stipulations I believe.

  • http://google louslew

    In addition to the above post, I would like to remind you who is agent is. Boras is very difficult to negotiate with. I remain very skeptical!!

    • BetterNews

      Skeptical about what, compadre?

      • http://google louslew

        Better News, I am skeptical about his defense, his size and his desire once he has that FAT contract. With regard to my comment about the Yankees, yes I know they appear to be set at first base but I also remember they appeared to be set at shortstop when they signed A Rod. My skepticism remains. Sorry it took so long for my reply but I had a very busy day yesterday.

  • Brian

    Yankees and BoSox are all set at first. So if we are to go after Fielder at least we don’t have to compete with them. I’m not saying that i’m totally against Fielder, he is a great player, but his weight does concern me and players with us seem to suck as soon as they sign big contracts. ie Soriano and Zambrano.

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