It wasn’t too many New Year’s Eves ago that I sometimes had trouble remembering the ball drop the next day as I struggled to watch football through a nasty hangoer. This year, the wife, the daughter and I had over friends who have a newborn, and we ate pizza and cookies, and talked about some of the year’s better TV shows. I enjoyed it. And I know I’ll enjoy today much more than in years past…

  • Matt Garza trade rumors continue to swirl. The latest has the Marlins joining the fray (again, not to be “that” guy, but the Marlins were rumored to have interest weeks ago) according to Ken Rosenthal. He describes the interest as “serious,” and says the Cubs might have interest in A-ball outfielder, 20-year-old Christian Yelich. Other players Rosenthal notes as available include third base prospect Matt Dominguez, outfielder Chris Coghlan, first baseman Gaby Sanchez, and relief prospect (and former Cubs farmhand) Jose Ceda. Not a hugely exciting crop of players without a single pitcher or Logan Morrison among them. I think Rosenthal is just picking some names out of a hat. That said, any additional teams that have interest is good news for the Cubs, who don’t have to trade Garza.
  • Buster Olney reported that the Tigers are making their top prospect, pitcher Jacob Turner, available in talks with the Cubs, but, again, that’s been rumored/assumed to be the case for some time now. The same article, from the Detroit News, says it is believed that the Tigers are offering the Cubs multiple prospects, including Turner, for Garza (but are not including number two prospect, third baseman Nick Castellanos). Turner, 20, is probably the best single prospect that has been attached to these Garza trade talks – he was a first round pick out of high school in 2009, and got a telling $5.5 million signing bonus. He’s a big-timer in the prospect world, and is probably no more than a year away from sticking in the Majors.
  • Bruce Levine was on the radio yesterday morning, once again espousing his belief that the Cubs are still pursuing Prince Fielder. Despite conceding that he believes Fielder will land a seven-year deal, Levine says, “The Cubs are very interested in Prince Fielder and are working very hard under the radar to bring him in.” Levine isn’t always right when he’s speculating or making trade suggestions (ok, he’s usually head-scratchingly off in those areas), but when it comes to reporting sourced rumors, few are better than Levine, in my opinion. If he’s saying this as confidently as he’s saying it, I believe it’s true. (h/t CCO.)
  • The Chicago Tribune’s writers reveal their Hall of Fame ballots, and, although they cover a range of selections, they all seem fair to me. Lee Smith makes everyone’s ballot except Mark Gonzalez and … Phil Rogers.
  • JR1908

    I feel like the Fielder rumor may be true. I still think Theo is going to improve team in 2012. Happy New Yr.!

  • CubSouth

    It would be foolish for the Cubs to trade Garza, and in return, receive no top pitching prospect. I believe you hit the nail on the head that Rosenthal was just picking names out of a hat. Are there any Marlins top prospects that could be SP one day soon?

  • JR1908

    I don’t think there is any top Marlin pitching prospects. What about Garza straight up for Stanton? That would be a great New Yr present.

    • Brett

      Nah. Stanton is as untouchable as Starlin Castro, if that helps contextualize why that wouldn’t happen.

  • hcs

    So, Brett, what were the consensus best TV shows of last year? We really enjoyed American Horror Story, but it seemed to tail off near the end.

    • Brett

      AHS was definitely discussed. The finale was meh, but, on the balance, it was a pretty remarkable show. Falling Skies was the other “new” show we liked. I’ve become a huge, huge Walking Dead fan. Breaking Bad had another good season. We also talked about many trash TV shows that are, unfortunately, entertaining.

      • NyN

        I am a Dexter Junkie!!!!!!! It is the most addictive show ever. nothing like a good vigilant serial killer to start the week off right. But now I am hooked on Homeland too. I hate paying $12 a month for showtime just to watch one show though.

      • Rick Vaughn

        I know it’s not a recent show, but anyone who hasn’t seen The Wire needs to take a step back and rethink what they’re doing with their life.

        Sons of Anarchy had a good season. Walking Dead was solid. Hell on Wheels has potential. I thought I liked American Horror Story, but I realized I probably just have a milf crush on the mom from Friday Night Lights. And it’s a shame more people haven’t seen Game of Thrones. We loved that show.

        Californication and Eastbound and Down start up again soon, and that’s all that really matters. And of course Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.

  • Freddy

    Levine has been all over the place regarding the Cubs signing Fielder

  • Toosh

    I don’t believe the Marlins have enough to offer for Garza. Their minor league system might be worse than the Cubs’. I like Turner more and more.

  • CubsfaninKY

    It would be a very happy new year if the Cubs got Turner. Here is my new year resolution: Cubs trade Garza to the Tigers and get Turner and Crosby, let the market play out for Prince and get him for a 6 year 150 million. Sign Jon Garland and either Maholm or Saunders,Trade Byrd to the Nationals for a low level prospect and salary relief, sign Coco Crisp. I love being GM for a day its so easy when everything just works the way you want it too. Look at the starting lineup:Coco,Dejesus,Castro,Fielder,Stewert,Lahair/Soriano,Soto,Barney. Pitching:Dempster,Garland,Maholm/Saunders,Z,Cashner/Wells. Now i would not be buying a world series ticket with the lineup but it would be fun and I believe it would be competitive while building for the future.

  • jandersonjr81 father of Caden

    Jacob Turner and Nick Castellanos works for me. Even throw bird in if they want them.

  • Dustin

    Theo is very smart and he will take the best offer for Garza. I’d hate to see Garza go but if we can get a great package of players back..why not!! I also believe they are in on Fielder. Scott Boras is just trying to get him more $$. Theo will offer him probably 5-6 year deal about 24-25mil a year with opt-out clause.

  • EtotheR

    Fielder at 27 is still relevant to a building/rebuilding effort, but…if they are going to sign him, I can’t imagine that Garza is going to be traded for anything that doesn’t include top-flight pitching prospects.

  • Oswego Chris

    actually coached against Crosby a few  years ago….tremendous athlete…already has had TJ surgery once….

    I am the minority prospect “hater” on here but Turner and Castellanos do not do it for me…too young…once in awhile there are true “can’t miss” guys….I don’t think these guys are it, too much risk….now…tell me they make this trade and then sign Edwin Jackson and Prince…I am totally on board….or even just Edwin Jackson….


    • JasonB

      Chris – pretty cool fact that you coached against a player as talented as Crosby.  Very highly touted a few years ago but control issues seem to be holding him back (TJS obviously hasn’t helped in that regard).  Hopefully, he can put it back together.

      • Oswego Chris

        I am just a dork…granted a baseball dork, but a dork just the same…Crosby was actually really wild in high school as well, I got pissed at our kids for cheering when one of our guys fouled one off against him…..the only reason he didn’t go in the first round was signability issues…I would not trust him at all….he was the least impressive of the 3 kids that I have coached against/seen in the last 7 years who have been drafted, two in the first round….the others being Micheal Bowden and Micheal Foltynewicz….I thought Theo might try to get Bowden from Boston….in many systems he would have been a 4 or a 5 long ago….

        • JasonB

          It’s still early so you can probably never count Theo out on anything.  Seems like they have him pegged for a bullpen arm though so I don’t know if he’ll ever get a chance to start again (I think he made some spot starts a few years ago for Boston?)

          On a side note, I’ve been getting into the real nuts and bolts of my fantasy dork-dom over the last few days.  Jeff Beliveau and Scott Maine put up some really great numbers as lefty relievers last year.  One of these guys is going to break ST with the big club.  While they’re certainly going to be a step down from Marshall (who isn’t?), our lefty relief should still be fine for the next few years.

  • Dustin

    Do you guys think maybe Theo is waiting to see if they can actually sign Fielder and if they can then they keep Garza? If he signed else where we trade Garza?

  • JR1908

    I keep hearing that one reason Prince is interested in the Cubs is that they are “reasonable distance” from his Florida home. hmmm… That makes no sense at all to me. I mean Chicago is slightly closer than Milwaukee… But aren’t there a lot of other teams without a good firstbaseman closer to Florida??? Sound like a b.s. Boras detail to me.

    • Tommy

      Agreed. That’s got to be one of the biggest reaches out there from the news media.

      • JR1908

        Yeah Prince keep thinking Chicago is close to Florida.. You should take way less and come to Chicago because you can ride ur bike to the ballpark.

  • Gcheezpuff

    It really does not seem like there is much of a market for Prince and the Cubs might be the only major market with any interest. I really hope Theo plays his cards right on this as I don’t have much interest in Prince on anything more then 5 years. I actually don’t see a fit on a rebuilding team, but understand that Prince helps the business side of the Cubs by putting butts in the seats and giving some fans the illusion of competing in 2012. I still can’t grasp why you’d wanna lock this guy up at 20 plus million per year when you really won’t compete for at least 2 years. Yeah yeah yeah…. I get the young elite hitter argument but the cubs need to focus on speed and defense which Fielder does not offer. Plus, aren’t we screaming about guys like Alfonzo, Z, and Demp being overpaid? Fielders per year is gonna put those guys to shame and last time I checked, Cubs don’t need a DH and there are no guarantees he is even the same player 2 years from now. I think the Cubs are better served to wait on signing any big name FA until after they have a young core in place and at least some descent pitching. Beside, Votto should be available in 2 years and personally I’d be more comfortable giving him 6 years at Age 30 then the same length contract to Fielder now.

    • Tommy

      I agree. I think the Cubs want to use LaHair as a stopgag, maybe pick up Rizzo and not have to rely on him right out of the gate. And like you said, if Rizzo doesn’t pan out in a couple years, Votto is available. I don’t see them really spending that kind of money for Fielder given the way they’ve handled the moves thus far.

  • ferrets_bueller

    The Marlins don’t really have anything to offer- the only way I could see this working is if they manage to bring a 3rd team in who has pitching prospects.  Garza for LoMo, Dominguez, Ceda, and Yelich wouldn’t be too bad of a trade, but considering Theo wants multiple arms back…and that wouldn’t be really any arms back….and thats the only fair package i can see them putting together….

    LoMo was an elite 1B prospect, I think he’s still bound to be that guy.  I love the Yelich kid.  But Dominguez is not going to be much more than an average 3B who’s value is primarily defensive.  Aside from Yelich, they really don’t have a prospect that I really like. This is a bad match, unless they trade away Hanley and get some arms as part of that.

    • Tommy

      I am not a pro scout, so I can only go off of what I read online. Everything I’ve looked at on the web agrees that the Marlins have one of the worst farm systems in baseball. Along with that fact, I couldn’t find a single Marlin on any top 100 list that I pulled up, and the top prospect lists for the Marlins organization that I could find didn’t make any of them sound like ‘can’t miss’ prospects.

      I don’t think it is in the Cubs best interest to take on middle of the road prospects or low level prospects with ‘already in the majors’ that the Marlins have no room for anyway. I honestly don’t see any way we trade Garza to Miami unless they’re planning on taking on Soriano’s remaining contract at no additional cost to us. And honestly, the way Miami has been throwing money around this year, is that entirely out of the realm of possibility? I think that would be an even bigger coup for Theo than finding a taker for Milton Bradley was for Hendry (and we still had to take on a really bad contract with Silva).

      I really believe the reason we haven’t seen a Garza deal yet is because Theo is trying to offload Sori’s contract. Pure speculation, but from what we’ve seen this offseason, I think it’s safe to say that they are trying to reduce guaranteed money on the major league staff.

  • NL_Cubs

    Happy 2012! The start of spring training is getting closer…

    48 days and counting.

    Hey Brett, how about an official BN countdown clock on the homepage?

  • Dustin

    I think they need to sign Edwin Jackson first and hold on to Garza. My reasoning behind that is the longer you hold on to Garza I think the better deal you will get. I also think signing Jackson before trading Garza would be a smart move because Jackson is the best available SP out there. So now teams that need/want SP cant have Jackson as a back up plan,which would then lead to a better deal for Garza.

    • JR1908

      I agree. If they can sign Edwin they should do it asap. They should sign as much starting pitching that’s on the market as they can. It will not only make the market better for Garza, but psycho Z, and Dumpster..

  • Dane

    Great blog, Brett. I’ve been reading for a while, but this is my first comment.

    I think my ideal scenario would be to trade Garza to Detroit for the best package they offer (I am assuming that Turner would be included, as well as one lefties and some other players – a total of 4 prospects coming back would be a fair value for Garza). And then since we have secured some pitching prospects, I would then turn to Miami (who missed out on Garza) and offer them Zambrano and Vitters for Dominguez. Dominguez’s glove is good enough to start right now and that seems to be what Theo is looking for in his signees. I think if we were to get any more out of Miami, we would have to eat a large portion of Zambrano’s deal, but I am okay with this deal.

    I think this addresses the Cubs needs for a great defensive third basemen with some potential power and also gives us a few pitchers to build around in the near future. Keeping Garza and Zambrano doesn’t do much for us this year. We aren’t going to be competitive in the Central, and by finishing in the middle of the pack it is only going to cost us draft picks (as far as when we draft). This transaction makes us better in the long-term, which should be everyone’s priority.

  • Ryan

    Yeah If Miami is a part of this deal its got to have atleast a 3rd team in it. So according to the Det news the Cubs won’t get Turner and Castellanos. Names mentioned out of the Det side of things are Turner, Oliver, Smyly and Crosby. am I correct?

  • Dustin

    I seriously think Theo is waiting to see what happens with the Cuban players and Fielder. If they can get 1 or 2 of the 3,I believe he will keep Garza.

    • Tommy

      My guess is Theo wants to get rid of anyone that’s over the age of 27 that isn’t a stopgap for younger players coming in. My guess is if he could trade them, we’d be saying goodbye to Soriano, Big Z, Marmol, Garza, Baker, Wells, Byrd, and Soto. I think he’ll wait until the trade deadline if he thinks he can do better in getting back prospect trade value.

  • John

    A few weeks back some talk of moving Soto was floating around. Is there still a market for him? Personally, not a big fan of the guy so I would be interested to see if they would move him and what the return would be.

  • SAM

    BY all means lets trade Garza (sarcasm) The Cubs have a 5 deep pitching rotation and can afford the luxury of trading this teams ace for Possibilties.This team is full of LIL theos possibilties Steward – Dejesus- Plywood- lets add our possibilties Soto -Soriano_BIG/small z.

  • Cheryl

    Brett, I asked earlier about a player drafted in August of this year to be named as a player to be named later iin this coming August. You mentioned it was very possible. Woud it make any sense to do that and get one of the upper tier (first or maybe second round) pitchers for Garza?

  • Dustin

    Whats the lastest on Pena? The last I heard was that the Cardinals and the Brewers were interested. I assume that now that the Cardinals signed Beltran and moved Berkman to 1st base that they are out on Pena. So that leaves the Brewers.

  • Ryan

    Pena has to wait until Prince signs to see the market for him

  • Tommy

    If those are truly the names being offered up by the Marlins, we can assume they are not really in the race UNLESS they are taking Big Z and Soriano with no cash along with Garza. That is the only way I see them as a trade partner. They just don’t have any parts that would qualify as even close to ‘can’t miss’.

    • Kyle

      I’m not even sure if I care about salary-dumping those guys at this point.

      The Cubs have enough interesting young (read: cheap, pre-arb) talent and budget space to buy anything they want to buy for the next few years. They’ve reached a point where additional money is giving a diminishing return.

  • realist

    I like Edwin Jackson, but I don’t think the Cubs are in on him. He wants a decently large contract for like 4 years. I just don’t see that. Signing him would mean we keep Garza I would think & then it becomes all patchwork. Even if the Cubs signed Fielder, they wouldn’t be very competitive. I don’t think Epstein/Hoyer do things like that. I think Epstein is sitting there like a snake in the tall grass, weighing & considering & taking his time until he pounces. He’s looking/waiting for the most desperate team with the best deal. Toronto has a similarly minded GM who isn’t going to let Theo/Hoyer even get decent return for Garza. He probably wants to send Drabek & a couple of mediocre prospects for Garza. New York is still the team that I think won’t be able to resist. They’ve been putting that luxury tax story out there, saying they want to “roll the dice” on signing another Bartolo Colon type retread. That’s bull. I bet Epstein/Hoyer came in and asked for Montero, Banuelos, & Betances, for Garza and the Yanks went all dormant. They’re acting like they’re out, but I bet that’s where Garza winds up. None of the free agents are good fits for the Yanks & almost none of them have pitched in the AL. Kuroda is a perfect example. 36 years old, NL pitcher, who knows what would happen in the AL East with him. Plus he wants a load of cash & some years. I think Garza will go and the Cubs will include some other small piece, like a reliever(Samarzja), and the Cubs will wind up with either Banuelos or Betances, SP’s Warren & Phelps, & that kid OF Mason Williams. This is the kind of trade I think Theo/Jed wants to make. You get one highly regarded guy, two serviceable young SP’s who could pitch & start this year, and a possible super talent. It’s like a hedging your bet type trade; now & later. It’s almost a copy of the Marshall trade on a smaller scale. Wood (highly regarded ready to pitch), Sappelt (serviceable & ready to play this year if necessary), and then Torreyes (the very young possible super talent). If the Marlins had anybody else who was as decent after Yelich, Garza might be heading to Miami, but I don’t think they can match what the Yankees could offer at all. Also, keep this in mind, How many more times are Jeter & Rivera gonna come back? This could be it for both & the Yankees know it. The Yanks & their fans are so arrogant, they think the whole world wants to see Jeter & Rivera with another ring on their fingers & the NY media will crucify them if they finish 3rd in Jeter & Rivera’s swan songs cause they tried to get to the World Series with somebody like Joe Saunders as their #3. This GM stuff is fun huh?!

  • realist

    I don’t think the Cubs can include any big contracts in a Graza trade either. Like has been said all over the place, that only lowers your return for Garza. Soriano will go, but it might be for someone who can replace him in LF. Like to Seattle for paying most of Soriano’s contract & someone like a Franklin Gutierrez. It won’t be a prospects trade. Same with Zambrano. I could see him going to the Marlins for that big dude SP Chris Volstad with the Cubs paying off most of the contract. All this talk about sit downs with Theo & Zambrano is all back story bull trying to make Carlos seem recovered or something. I also think Dempster goes now too. He might go to whichever team thinks they’re a contender but lost out on all the FA’s & trades. Like I could see him going to Detroit for that Oliver LH starter kid. If Detroit doesn’t grab someone else, like Garza maybe. Whatever, it’s all just fun.

    • Tommy

      I like a lot of what you’re saying, realist. Good stuff on the Yanks for sure, and as deep as their farm system is, I think you might be right. I still think Detroit is the odds on favorite if we’re not dumping salary with the Garza deal.

      I do still think that getting rid of Soriano without taking back a big contract in return has got to be on the mind of Theo. Think of what he could do with $54M. Cespedes, Solis, maybe Fielder? Who knows – but that money could be thrown at some new, young talent. So even if we traded Garza WITH Soriano, while getting back very little, but not having to pay most of Sori’s contract, we’d have a ton of money to go shopping for young talent with. I’ve got to believe that they’d jump at a chance like that. I just don’t know if any team is dumb enough to take Soriano’s contract. I suppose that depends on just how desperate they are for a very solid, young, starting pitcher.

  • Ralph

    I think the Tigers as a landing spot for Garza makes the most sense so far. Willing to throw in their top pitching prospect (Jacob Turner) is what the Cubs seem like they’re looking for. Yankees not willing to part with top tier prospects? Marlins not having the prospects that the Cubs want? Blue Jays… are they really going to compete for a division title or wild card this year or next? If Garza ends up a Tiger, is that the end of the Fielder pursuit? This is a strange off-season! The Cubs MUST get at least what they paid for Garza. Archer will more than likely be an MLB pitcher (maybe bottom end rotation or pen at least… K to BB ratio is not where it should be). Guyer will eventually stick in the MLB (maybe only a 4th outfielder). Hak Ju Lee will be a MLB caliber Short Stop as far as defense goes… but might only end up being a top of order guy with good speed and .280ish avg. and not a power/ RBI guy). Sam Fuld is Super Sam, and Robinson Chirinos I think still projects as a potential back-up catcher at some point. So, the Cubs need Turner and more in a potential Tigers trade… what do you think?

    • Tommy

      I think the Tigers are definitely the top choice right now because of Jacob Turner. Don’t see Garza going there unless they throw in at least 1 more of their top 10 prospects from their farm system. Detroit’s farm system isn’t any better than the Cubs from what I’ve read, and no matter how good a prospect is, they are not equivalent to a proven major league commodity. Garza has proven he can pitch in the MLB, and finding SP’s that finish a year below or even around 3.50 ERA are worth their weight in gold.

      Like I’ve said in previous posts though – my dream is that Theo is going to find a sucker to take Soriano’s contract with Garza. If that happened, I wouldn’t care what we get in return, as long as it didn’t cost us money. $54M is a lot of cash to be saved.

      • Daniel

        Interestingly enough, if Matt Garza WAS made of gold he would be worth $5,366,400. Haha

  • Ryan

    It won’t happen but I wonder if the return for Garza would be more or less than a trade for Hanley R.

    • Tommy

      Wow, as long as Ramirez is considered a SS, I would have to think it would be less. The power numbers you can get from Ramirez out of the SS position are disgusting. That is assuming all the other teams in the league haven’t figured out what the Marlins have – Ramirez can’t play good D at the SS position.

      And on a side note – in my humble opinion, if this boy isn’t using PED’s, I’d be absolutely SHOCKED!