The stove is finally hot…

  • Industry sources offer conflicting takes on just how hard the Cubs might pursue Prince Fielder. All we know for sure at this point is that the Cubs are routinely mentioned among the top five teams “in” on Fielder. His agent, Scott Boras, is expected to meet with teams who are actually “in” on Fielder today, so we might learn just how serious the Cubs are – or aren’t – today.
  • Some folks in the industry doubt the Cubs will spend much money this Winter at all. I may have been among them … until the new CBA was announced. As it stands, the Cubs will absolutely consider big-money deals under the right circumstances. The Cubs might end up making only cost-effective moves this Winter, but I have no doubt they’ll strongly consider the alternative.
  • On Pujols, other executives do expect the Cubs to make an offer to Albert Pujols, but only on a shorter term deal with a high annual salary (as we’ve all suggested around here). I still don’t see why Pujols would take, for example, a five-year, $150 million offer from the Cubs over a nine-year, $200 million offer from the Cards. Those latter four years, it’s almost impossible to imagine him bettering a four-year, $50 million deal. Add in the home-town love, and Pujols staying in St. Louis feels like a natch.
  • Paul Sullivan provides the first suggestion that the Cubs will be shopping Randy Wells and Marlon Byrd this week and beyond. Wells never fully rebounded from his early-season forearm strain, though he was pretty good for a long stretch in the second half. Given his cheapness (2012 is his first arbitration-eligible year), it’s hard to see the Cubs trading Wells. As for Byrd, he’ll be a free agent after 2012, in which he’ll make $6.5 million at age 34. He was decent in 2011, and would have some trade value. The David DeJesus signing makes the Cubs slightly more flexible in moving Byrd, but obviously they’d rather move Alfonso Soriano.
  • The Jose Reyes signing has a number of implications, some of which touch on the Cubs. Among them: Reyes got *paid,* which can only help the market for other big-time free agents, the Marlins will now ask Hanley Ramirez to move positions (but, no, I don’t necessarily expect them to shop him (to the Cubs, for example)), and the Marlins will now even more aggressively look for a starting pitcher – especially one they could pick up on the cheap, like Carlos Zambrano.
  • The Marlins are also reportedly going to step up their pursuit of Albert Pujols now, because apparently Reyes is coming complete with a $150 million credit card. If the Marlins somehow pick up Pujols, they’ll look to move first baseman Gaby Sanchez – someone whom the Cubs would call about – and may be more open to moving 3B prospect Matt Dominguez (assuming they don’t move him now that Reyes has pushed Hanley Ramirez to 3B), another kid who could interest the Cubs. Some folks believe Logan Morrison’s long-term future is at first base, too, so he could be another piece they might move. Again, the Cubs would be interested.
  • Buster Olney thinks the Mets should be taking offers on third baseman David Wright this week. I’ve made my thoughts on Wright well-known – he’s too expensive (both in salary and in prospects it would take to acquire), has had repeated back troubles, and is not the right age for the Cubs’ prime window of competitiveness – but you can expect the Cubs to at least see what’s up.
  • If the Brewers sign Aramis Ramirez, they might look to move third baseman – and former Cub – Casey McGehee. It’s unlikely, but, if that happens, the Cubs could ask about their former cast-off. McGehee, 29, had a brutally bad 2011 season after two straight surprisingly good years in 2009 and 2010. He’s not much of a defender at 3B, though.
  • The Yankees have unspecified concerns about Matt Garza. The Miami Marlins have reached out to the Cubs about Garza. A source tells me that Garza, himself, expects to be traded this Winter. That doesn’t necessarily mean a trade will happen, mind you – players are frequently very out of the loop on these things (the last thing a team wants to do is convey to a player that he might be traded, not trade him, and then have a disgruntled player on their hands). It’s just the sense he’s gotten, I’m told.
  • George Castle says the Cubs aren’t a good fit for the White Sox, if they choose to trade pitchers John Danks and/or Gavin Floyd. There are rumors that Sox GM Kenny Williams asked the Yankees for the creme de la creme of their prospects in exchange for Danks, so, like, yeah. Not a good fit.
  • Lots of generic buzz about the Padres moving Headley this Winter, and about the Rockies moving Ian Stewart soon. Taken together, I’d be surprised if the Cubs’ third base situation doesn’t have more clarity by this time next week.
  • Matt

    Anticipation is killing me, can’t wait to see what Theo has up his sleeve.

    I now think Garza might really be dealt, I know it’s all about what we can get for him – but it feels more real now than before.

  • Kansas Cubs Fan

    If Garza is traded to the Marlins could we expect Gaby Sanchez and Ricky Nolasco in return?

    Maybe even Garza and Zambrano to the Marlins?

    • Smitty

      Clearly the Marlins are all in for the next two years. Hopefully Theo’s den of intelligence are going to take advantage of that as much as possible. I would OK to get Sanchez and Nolasco as a part of a deal for Garza, but would imagine we would need more than that. I’m not familiar with their system, other than Morrison/Sanchez/Stanton. who would they include with those two.

  • paxson43

    I am happy and angry the same as everyone. Kind of hoping the person who speaks next summer has a chance to land a few zingers, but I’d guess the family or Pat or whomever will be gracious.
    However, it is important to remember that the group that elected Ron yesterday was NOT the same group that has excluded him for years. The process was revamped significantly. Of course, that makes it harder because it’s not as simple as finding out who changed their vote. This group was a mix of writers and vets, including Billy Williams.

  • Sam

    If we are going to trade Garza we should trade him to the Yanks for Jesus Montero and some prospects, and then trade Soto and Marmol for ML ready pitching prospects.

  • john

    I totally disagree that Pujols value in the last 4 years would be less than 4/50mil
    How many records are going down in that time span. Whoever has him on their roster when he breaks Ruth, than Aaron than hopefully Bonds records will make more off
    marketing and souvenirs than his entire 9 year contract.

  • chris margetis

    5 years $175 for Albert. Simply tell him this: “Albert, anywhere you go you will be a first ballot hall of famer and the best player of your generation. Unless you go to the Cubs. If you win a series here, they’ll mention you along side Ruth, Mantle, Mays and the other immortals.”
    Plus, a successful run at that rate would net him the extra money if he wanted to keep playing. Any dollar they pay him will be easily made up in the added value he brings in merch, ads, free agent wooing, and young player development.

    • hansman1982

      at 5/175 you might as well match the 9/200.  The burden of carrying $35M a year for Pujols for 5 years would be far too great and would be tough to build much around him unless we were to get a crapload of prospects this offseason from Garza/Soto/Marmol

      • chris margetis

        I totally disagree, as a matter of fact, I’d argue the burden would be less hard to swallow than Prince at $25 per year, which everyone seems to be clamoring for. Pujols would drive FAR more interest and revenue to the Cubs. I’d guess when it was all said and done between merch and fans who would actually show up and spend money on concessions etc, vs just paying for a ticket and staying away as we saw last year, he’d wind up being less than $20 mil per year. I think anyone would jump on him for that figure.

  • BD

    Maybe it’s just me, but I think Pujols could complete a 5/$150 deal and then still out-earn 4/$50 after that. Because whoever signs him will likely* be keeping him as he climbs the HR chart. (* = unless his skill totally erodes)

  • EQ76

    I just can’t see Pujols coming to Chicago from St Louis.. that’s a slap in the face to Cards fans (although I’d love to see that slap).. I just don’t think he’d do it. Fielder makes more sense for that reason. However, I’d LOVE if we could snag Pujols for 4-5 years! that would be perfect.

  • Kyle

    I’m pretty bearish on Wells. He was always a guy living on the edge with mediocre stuff, and that type of pitcher has trouble sustaining success over multiple seasons. His brief bounceback in August didn’t really involve him missing any more bats, and he gave it right back in September.

    I’m not flat-out opposed to him being in the rotation next year, but I’d like to think there are a lot of scenarios that end with us having five superior starters by the time ST rolls around.

    • Andrewmoore4isu

      I agree with you man. He would walk one give up two singles every inning and then get a lucky double play. I was never comfortable watching him pitch. Doesn’t have the stuff to scare any hitter and has no strikeout pitch

    • MoneyBoy

      Kyle … I also concur.   One thing that bothered me a great deal about Wells was this:  he had a very tough time getting out of trouble once he got in trouble … what Dempster calls “inning management.”

      As a cost controlled pitcher he’s fine.  But I highly doubt he’ll be part of the rotation when the Cubs are serious contenders for a title.


  • oswego chris

    we have so many questions that need answers…1b, 3B, 2 or 3 starters, Soriano?…..

    please give us some resolution this week….

    • BetterNews

      DeJesus was a good start I believe. Why? Because we need hitters .and I think , but I could be wrong, DeJesus has a .350 BA with RISP.

      • ReiCow

        His Averages for his Career:

        Bases empty .272
        Runners on: .305
        RISP: .299
        RISP 2/outs: .305
        Bases loaded: .323

        • BetterNews

          Cow–Better use that calculator better!

        • DRock

          Not .350, but still not bad. Better than most on the Cubs current lineup!

          • BetterNews

            Ty. Yes Better than a lot?

  • BetterNews


  • Andrewmoore4isu

    I believe Adrian Gonzalez is worth way more at this point in his career than any other first baseman (Albert, prince, Ryan) so if we pay prince more than Adrian especially on a NL team… Well then wtf man

    • ferrets_bueller

      I loved the move for a-gonz that Theo made last season, and its the exact sort of thing that I hope he does here. Overpaying for over-aged players in FA will never be the long-term answer. Trading for and re-signing players like A-gonz is the best way to go about it.

      Although, an argument could be made for Joey Votto being the one worth the most. If only the Reds weren’t in the same division as the Cubs…next offseason, he would be a perfect target for Theo otherwise…

    • Jeff

      Gonzalez got a 7 year/154 million at deal at the age of 29. Which I think is a pretty big bargain considering how well he plays defense. It’s not all that unreasonable to think that Prince will get more than that. For a more comparable player to Fielder, Ryan Howard signed a 5 year/125 million dollar contract at the age of 30. Howard signed his deal first, so it’s likely that Gonzalez could have gotten a bigger deal, which tells me that Gonzalez is more under valued than Prince would be over valued, even if he signs a bigger contract than either of the other two.

      • ferrets_bueller

        I still think that that Howard extension is going to go down as a worse contract than possibly any other in history. It was absurd at the time, and even more so today.

        I agree, the A Gonz deal is a hell of a deal- especially because he’ll earn almost all of it through to the end. Right now, with Fielder a little younger, the Howard-type deal might be worth it…but I still would prefer the Cubs didn’t so it.
        I think they’ll end up getting more production vs dollar via trade, without mortgaging their future financial freedom…

  • ferrets_bueller

    I’m a big fan of both Morrison and Sanchez (more so LoMo, though), so ideally, if Pujols doesn’t return to the Cards to become an awesome financial albratross in a few years, I think the Marlins could be a best case scenario for the Cubs. I’d love to see them acquire either of those two, more so than acquiring a guy like Smoak from Seattle if Fielder ends up their.
    Its funny, but while the market for young 1Bs isnt exactly anywhere near good right now, it could open up significantly depending on where those two go…

    And of course, as I seem to be saying in broken-record fashion, I think the best move they could possibly make would be giving the Padres what they want for Headley (ie, vitters and carp? marmol and cash? marmol and ?? etc), as his overall numbers lie significantly about just how good of a hitter he really is. His number outside of Petco (both career and last season) are nearly a carbon copy of Michael Young’s, plus some steals.
    Oh…and that defense…exactly what this team needs, badly.

  • die hard

    from Boston Globe by Peter Abraham, Globe Staff Dec 5, 2011

    explains why boston fighting over compensation for theo and why theo wanted out so fast… a bit of a mess left behind by him…should cub fans have concern?

    Salaries lost
    J.D. Drew: $14 million
    David Ortiz: $12.5 million
    Jonathan Papelbon: $12 million
    Mike Cameron: $7.2 million
    Dan Wheeler: $3 million
    Jason Varitek: 2 million
    Assorted others: $2 million
    Total off the books: $52.70 million

    Contracted raises for 2012
    Adrian Gonzalez: $14.7 million
    Clay Buchholz: $3 million
    Dustin Pedroia: $2 million
    Jon Lester: $1.875 million
    Marco Scutaro: $1 million
    Total in raises: $22.575 million

    Expected raises via arbitration
    (This is based on arbitration history as compiled by MLB Trade
    Jacoby Ellsbury: $5.5 million
    Daniel Bard: $1.1 million
    Alfredo Aceves: $1 million
    Jarrod Saltalamacchia: $0.9 million
    Mike Aviles: $0.85 million
    Jed Lowrie: $0.75 million
    Franklin Morales: 0.5 million
    Total in expected arbitration raises: $10.6 million

    So the Sox will take $52.70 million off the books and $33.175 will be sucked up by raises. That leaves approximately $20 million to use in building the roster…if David Ortiz returns to the roster, that is going to take up a big chunk of the surplus.

    • hogie

      Looks to me like the contracts ending are ending at the right time, maybe a little late, and the raises are to studs. You still have 20 mill left to make improvements to pitching, I could deal with that. The problems didn’t come from lack of talent, some of that talent underperformed, but I would expect a bounce back year from that team if the atmosphere that has developed in Boston doesn’t drag them all down.

      • hansman1982

        agree, we are talking about $20M on a team that won 90 games last year.

        EDIT: Had they just gone .500 in Sept they could have easily gotten close to 100 wins

    • john

      You have 6 plus players listed that would equal one Soriano

    • EQ76

      consider 2 things about Theo’s job in Boston…1) had to compete with the Yankees so there was pressure and demand for big FA’s and lots of payroll 2) Boston has won around 90 games most years under Epstein and won 2 World Series.

      I’m pretty sure we’d be okay with similar results over the next decade.

  • MightyBear

    What does everyone think about bringing back Mark DeRosa to play third? Anybody think that is a good idea?

    • BetterNews

      Honest answer, I don’t walk around the bush!

    • Brett

      Not sure he can still be a regular – he’s looking for a utility job at this point.

  • BetterNews


  • oswego chris

    just more rationalization from Sawks nation about losing Theo…

    if he left such a “mess” then they don’t need amy compensation…

    yeah with “crap” like Ellsbury, Pedroia, Gonzalez and Lester that he put on the roster he better get out of there…

    • Internet Random

      They should compensate us for taking him off their hands.

  • BetterNews

    It seems somebody is trying to to take over BetterNews! Not gonna let that happen.

  • oswego chris

    SI Jon Heyman tweeting there is a “bit” of interest in Soriano…with Cubs picking up “bulk” of money….if they get any relief(just a few bucks)…make the trade!

    • john

      Soriano is still worth 8-10 mil per

      • die hard

        I can live with a platoon of Soriano and Campana in LF…would not add a dime to payroll …money saved could be used to rent a 1B or 3B for 2 yrs until one of AA kids ready if not going to move Soto to 3B or Colvin to 1B

  • cubzfann

    Like the rest of you, I look forward to the winter moves that Theo and Co. orchestrate. I am confused though about our obvious need for starting pitching going hand-in-hand with three of our starters (2 if you don’t count Z) being the ones mentioned as trade candidates.

    • Brett

      I think it’s a product of the new guys being willing to explore every possible avenue – which could include trading pitchers away on the one hand, and signing a few via free agency on the other. Again, these are just considerations. It’s wise not to rule anything out.

  • Cubsleeram

    I don’t understand the deal with Fielder. First, he reportedly ruled out the Cubs because he wanted to play for an east coast team. Then, he said that familiarity is important to him. Sveum and Bosio are as familiar as he’s going to get (besides the brew-crew). I’m not taking a stance on whether we should sign him or not. I’m just saying all these reports are coming out, and I still don’t have the slightest clue on where he might land.

    • BetterNews

      Are you familiar with women?

      • Cubsleeram

        I talked to a few before. Jelly?

  • R.I.P. SANTO


  • The Next Theo Epstein


    The Cards’ offer for Pujols isn’t 9 years, 200 anymore. That was the offer last offseason, which they haven’t altered in any way. People (looking at you, MSM) continue to take that to mean the offer is still 9 years, 200 mil.

    In reality, it means that 9 years is now 8 years, since the first year was supposed to be last year.

    Their previous nine-year proposal is believed to have included the 2011 season, meaning only eight years would remain. If Pujols deemed the offer inadequate in January, any downward revision in term or average annual value could only further polarize the parties.

    Read more:

    • Brett

      Thanks, TNTE. I’ll have to look into it – my understand was that, back at the beginning of the offseason, they made a new offer (which was the older offer).

      • Brett

        I updated the most recent post to include that article, by the way. Thanks again.