The 2012 Cubs Convention Winds Down and Other Bullets

The Cubs Convention wraps up today with a couple sessions, and I plan to write up my experience soon. I’ll also soon have more on the announced changes at Wrigley Field (electronic scoreboard/patio seating area in right field), but, until then, Bullets…

  • At a panel of the coaching staff yesterday, Dale Sveum was asked about his planned leadoff hitter. While Sveum said he couldn’t answer that quite yet, he said there are a number of options. Everyone is talking about Tony Campana, whom Sveum mentioned as kind of an afterthought (essentially saying if there was a way for Campana to get himself on base more, he could be a devastating player, which is correct). Instead, the first two names Sveum mentioned – the ones he’s clearly been thinking about – were David DeJesus (makes sense) and Darwin Barney. Um. What? Barney’s OBP last year was .313. He took a whopping 22 walks (five fewer than Alfonso Soriano). In no universe is that the guy who should be getting the most at bats on your team.
  • Theo Epstein has been the star of the Cubs Convention, but he’d rather the focus was on the players.
  • Tom Ricketts, who was brought into the discussion about re-signing Kerry Wood (probably to confirm that, if tossing Wood a couple extra million to get the deal done put the team “over budget,” Ricketts was ok with that), says he’s happy Wood is returning. “We talked about what was best for the organization and this is it,” Ricketts said. “In the end, it works out great, and this is what everybody wanted, every fan, everybody in the organization and also Kerry. He had a lot of offers. He could be in another city if that was his decision. From our standpoint, we’re happy that he wants to stay with the Cubs.”
  • Ron Santo has been remembered fondly at the Convention. They showed a video tribute to Number 10 during the Opening Ceremonies. It was hard not to get a little misty-eyed.
  • Friday was the deadline for players who are eligible for arbitration for “file” for arbitration, a procedural step that all such eligible players take. Now the exchange of salary requests will start on Tuesday, and hearings for players and teams who can’t settle on a contract will begin on February 1, and continue for much of that month. The Cubs’ arbitration-eligible players are Matt Garza, Geovany Soto, Jeff Baker, Randy Wells, Blake DeWitt, Ian Stewart, and Chris Volstad.
  • Fluff on new first base prospect, Anthony Rizzo, who got one of the biggest cheers at the Convention. As Epstein and Jed Hoyer keep saying, he sounds like a great kid.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

63 responses to “The 2012 Cubs Convention Winds Down and Other Bullets”

  1. MichiganGoat

    So how close did come to showing your squeal face? Any brushes with greatness? Saw that you talked with McLeod. FEED ME, I need a Cubs Con fix, I’m all scratchy itchy here

    1. JasonB

      I’ve heard that penicillin is supposed to help clear that up :)

      1. MichiganGoat

        Nope only Cubs Con news can cure me now

  2. Matt

    Brett, did you get any scuttlebutt from your on-site sources about the status of Garza? If they don’t trade him this offseason, I wonder if they’ll extend him or look to deal him @ the deadline. In the case of Marmol, you know they’ll move him the minute-if it ever arrives- that they get any satisfactory interest.

  3. Katie

    I want to know all that plus who you met from Bleacher Nation and other journalists, bloggers, etc.

    1. MichiganGoat

      It be nice to have some baseball news vs. another type of News that only wastes time.

  4. jim

    The triad has already decided on rotation and lineup. Btw, was convention sold out!

  5. devin

    Did the cubs ever sign Jason Jarmillo

  6. die hard

    Colvin was a great kid too….Your lead off batter is up the most each game and after first time around should have 7th or 8th batter on base ahead of him…so, If those that feel Castro is the best hitter since sliced bread, then he should bat lead off…..his 650 AB over full season should translate to 80-100 RBI even at lead off…would be especially interesting if Campana batted 7th and Barney 8th so either would be ready to score on Castro’s base hit in innings 2-8…assuming pitcher can bunt them along which should be mandatory for any player to make the team even Soriano…so many rallies killed due to inability to advance runner into scoring position.

    1. MichiganGoat

      So by that logic Pujols should bat leadoff for the Angels? So your counting on the 7-9 hitters being on more than 30% of the time, because that’s where you high OBP players hit… Right this makes complete sense.

      1. die hard

        makes sense given current team as nobody can get on base except Castro….if rules changed so every time he gets on base there would be a pinch runner so he can bat again, then he can be only one to bat…until then, his hits will be meaningless unless he bats first…as for Pujols, unless they have good hitters ahead of him, would make sense there too….

        1. Tommy

          diehard – since you’re obviously smarter than the rest of us, can you fill us in on what constitutes an acceptable .OBP, please.

    2. DocWimsey

      NL leadoff batters have more plate appearances with the bases empty than any other slot.  Thus, OBP is the only stat that is important.  Even K’s are not important: “productive outs” will be rarest for guys who typically will be batting with 1 or 2 outs if anybody is on base.

      Oh, and actually, Pujols would be an awesome leadoff hitter: he probably would create more runs than any other alternative for the Angels.  The question is, would that maximize the runs scored by the entire lineup?  (That actually would probably be done batting Pujols 2nd.)

  7. ferrets_bueller

    I take the Barney mention as simply a tactic to make it appear as if its a competition, to try to make Da’ Jesus earn it.  In no way, shape, or form Barney a leadoff caliber hitter, and the job will go to DeJesus.  But its smart to make it appear otherwise, both for sake of competition, and to avoid just outright handing someone a position, which is never a good idea.  It potentially could be a mistake to just say “David DeJesus is our leadoff man,” then have to back down on it for some yet unseen reason.  This team is way too smart for that.

    1. die hard

      giving team too much credit arent ya?……current line up may set record for fewest runs scored in baseball history

      1. ferrets_bueller

        ….what?

      2. Tommy

        Yeah, they MIGHT set a record for fewest runs scored in baseball history, but then they MIGHT set a record for most runs scored in baseball history.  But then, I don’t live in the future and either do you, so I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

        diehard – you’re the biggest downer I’ve ever met, and you MIGHT be the shitiest fan of all time.

        1. die hard

          two t’s in that word

          1. Tommy

            shittiest?  I don’t think so English major.  Better study up on your vulgarity usage.

            1. FrankAndBeans

              shittiest is the correct spelling, so “you better study up on your vulgarity usage”.

              1. Tommy

                You’re right.  I made a mistake.

        2. Mick

          Put down the convention Kool-Aid and take a long hard look at our lineup. We have Barney batting leadoff, Soriano cleaning up, and 2 HRs in 2011 from our corner infield. I’m not sure if we’ll be the lowest scoring team in MLB because Houston, Pittsburgh, and Oakland will be tough to underscore but we need to start tempering our hopes about actually competing. Brace yourselves because 2013 could be even worse. Byrd and Dempster’s contracts will be done. Wood, Maholm, and DeJesus’ contract options could be declined and Stewart and Volstad will be non-tender candidates. But guess what? We’ll still have Alfonso Soriano!!!

          1. pakman23

            In this scenario, who exactly do you think will be playing for the Cubs in 2013? Why would they decline those extreamly team friendly options? Unless of course there is a better option out there.

            And you will most likely get slightly above average production from the corner infield spots this season. They may not set records, but Stewart/LeHair should put up 30-35 HR between them. This team will be middle of the pack offensively.

          2. ferrets_bueller

            We have barney hitting leadoff?  Since when?  Darwin barney is not hitting leadoff.  David DeJesus is projected to be.

            Byrd and Dempster’s contracts being up is a good thing.  Why would those other options be declined, unless the players regress significantly, in which case thats a good thing again?

            That post is kinda bizarre.

            1. Rick Vaughn

              ferrets – Dude, I’ve grown to love you but you’re way off on this. In a perfect world Darwin Barney would be leading off this year. Getting on base at a strong .320…down in Iowa.

              1. ferrets_bueller

                Bahaha! Touche, good sir.  Touche.

            2. BetterNews

              Barring any more moves By Theo, I would have to agree DeJesus will be leading off, Cubs don’t have much of a choice.

    2. JasonB

      I imagine the post-session conversation between Theo/Jed and Sveum went something like this:

      T/J: Hi Dale, so about that ‘maybe Barney is the leadoff hitter’ thing that you mentioned in the press conference
      Dale: I think it could be good to have a scrappy hitter like Barney at the top of the lineup
      T/J: Ummmmm, yea.  You see, there’s this statistic called on base percentage.  We’re of the school of thought that that’s kind of an important number…

      1. AJ

        I imagine the post-session conversation between Theo/Jed and Sveum went something like this:

        T/J: Congratulations, you said it with a straight face. You won the bet. Here’s your $2.

  8. Nick

    Do the changes to RF replace the current bleachers and take seats away from the everyday fan?

    1. MichiganGoat

      Yes, but until the everyday fan can spend like a corporation then stadiums will have to do this, the bleachers are a great experience but they generate nearly zero revenue compared to what this will generate every game.

      1. Nick

        Makes sense. I guess I was hoping this could have been accomplished by a big renovation of the grandstands, leaving the bleachers as is. On the other hand, I really like the scoreboard addition.

        1. JasonB

          From looking at the renderings, I really don’t think it’s going to look too bad.  Actually, a part of me thinks it might look good as having it right on top of the wall could bring an old ballpark feel to it.  It’s going to be in that corner well in RF, which technically wasn’t bleacher seating to begin with (used to be a family section although I don’t know what it is now).  Plus, there were only a few rows of seats there.

          I’m kind of envisioning the new RF area to be similar to the rooftops across the street so it could be interesting to add that dynamic to the ballpark itself.

          I’ll reserve judgment until I see the finished product but I think that this could be a tasteful way to modernize Wrigley without detracting too much from the traditional/aesthetic beauty of the park.

  9. Jeff L

    Cubs adding 70-foot LED scoreboard at Wrigley. This scoreboard will be in the right field stands and will be the first at Wrigley Field to show the picture of the player who is pitching or up to bat. I will say that this scoreboard in my opinion is not needed. I honestly would rather Ricketts put the money into premium players to put the butts in the seats. If not signing premium players to keep putting money into player development. I like the feeling of an old traditional ballpark. I’m honestly not to happy with a 70-foot LED scoreboard at Wrigley Field.

    1. CubFan Paul

      the PURPOSE of the LED scoreboard is ..wait for it ..its REVENUE!! the cost of the scoreboard is nothing and pales in comparison to the yearly advertising dollars (probably 7 figure$) that the scoreboard will bring ..build the scoreboard, the premium players will come ..duh

    2. Mick

      You’re being a little short-sighted with your analysis. The sole purpose of the scoreboard isn’t to show the pictures of the players it’s to run ads between innings. That added revenue can be used to sign the premium players to put even more butts in the seats. I like the upgrades the Cubs are making to the bleachers but eventually the grandstands need to come down and be rebuilt. Take a stroll through Wrigley’s grandstands and then visit a new stadium like Target Field, whoa what a difference. Sooooo many more opportunities for revenue and the amenities make for a fan friendly experience. It makes the price of the ticket much more worth it.

  10. die hard

    Cubs couldve made that trade with Yankees that Seattle did by using Garza…lack of imagination on part of front office passed up a good oppty and would have been protection for Castro….a front office which is so focused on being clever in signing has beens, never will bes, and reclamation projects will miss such opptys every time…Would be shocked if Cubs have 25 wins by All-Star game…problem with new scoreboard is now will be tougher to hide these failings…should have left scoreboard alone so nobody would notice…

    1. Tommy

      We need a way to put people on ignore on here.

    2. Sully777

      die hard: You are right; the Cubs probably could have made the Garza for Montero trade with the Yanks-and it would have been a mistake. Threeo was probably asking for Montero and Banuelos +/or Betances. Sounds like Montero is a hell of a hitter; and a guy without a position. Scouts iffy on his long-term catching prospects, so staying in the AL is the smart move. I am telling you right now, someone will offer the Cubs the motherload of prospects if we are patient and simply have the mindset we go into 2012 with Garza. Yesterday, the Tigers came out and stated their interest in Garza was way over-exaggerated; and Turner never really was part of the discussion. All it will take is a Verlander injury or poor performance/injury somewhere else in the rotation-then we’ll see what Dombrowski says. If not the Tigers, someone else will be there when it’s all said and done.

    3. Rick Vaughn

      I’d rather get Rizzo for Cashner than Montero for Garza. We got our future first baseman while keeping our best trade chip (or long term ace).

  11. Ryan

    Why would the Cubs make that trade. They don’t get anything that will help them. They would then have to trade JM somewhere because he won’t stay a catcher and the Cubs have Rizzo at first.

  12. Wrigley11

    George Ofman just tweeted that Theo would love to have Castellanos and it would take Garza and possibly more to get him. Try not to laugh

  13. Ryan

    Well no Castellanos or Turner no deal with Tigers

  14. LouCub

    When has George Offman bet right on any of his predictions???
    Gotta think about it huh??
    No freaking way

  15. BD

    My favorite is how a player can be mentioned for a role, and immediately it is impossible. Because someone can’t learn to be more patient, or to make better contact. Especially with a new coach. It’s just not possible. Right?

    1. JasonB

      Here come the Barney apologists – they must have wanted to watch the Ravens game.  I’m not saying that it’s not possible – I’m saying that it’s a dumb idea based on his current OBP ability.  If he wants to be a leadoff hitter, make him prove that he can get on base while hitting in another spot in the lineup.  If you let him try to do it from the leadoff spot, all you’re going to do is hurt the team.  If he can get his BB rate up to 8% like it was earlier in his career, then he can get his OBP into the .350s.  That makes him 2011 Jamey Carroll with plus defense and that’s a fine tandem in the MI with Castro.

      But to just put him there based on blind faith is silly.

  16. TSB

    I guess Dale Sveum is not as smart as the arm-chair fan and the fantasy baseball number-crunchers. Just, think, all those years he spent playing baseball wasted, he could have just sat in front of the TV or PC, and become an expert big league manager .

  17. Dragoon77

    When it comes to Sveum maybe we should give the guy a little more credit. He’s been a hitting coach right? And theoretically a good one, considering the way the Brewers have been knocking the ball around the yard the last couple years. Maybe he thinks he can get Barney to *scoff* take a few pitches. I know the talent level isn’t anywhere near the same, but think about how a guy like Rickie Weeks evolved as a hitter and an offensive over the last couple years.

  18. BetterNews

    DeJesus, by far, seems to make the most sense as lead-off hitter.

  19. Duke11

    Players who have high homerun or rbi totals are usually forgiven a somewhat low end on base percentage (within reason of course), justified by the fact that they drive in runs. If Tony Campana can routinely take a trip to first and turn it into a man in scoring position via the stolen base, even though that does not factor into his slugging percentage it is, in my opinion, better than hitting for a double. You have distracted the pitcher and probably given the next man up less of the pitchers attention than was originally merited. Therefore, I do not necessarily see Campana as a liability. I realize that those aforementioned rbi guys were not leading off, but if his on base percentage is lower than the average leadoff man, his ability to get himself into scoring position and distract the pitcher is higher, an equal tradeoff some may say. If faced with the prospect of an average to below average leadoff man with a slightly higher obp than Campana, I will take Campana every time. This also does not factor in the possibility that Campana could potentially improve his obp with more experience and at bats.

    1. BetterNews

      I don’t think Campana is even being considered for the everyday line-up at this point.

  20. Cheryl

    Brett, Heard a rumor that Fielder siged with Yankees. Can’t confirm it anywhere> Is it just more rumors?

    1. Rick Vaughn

      I don’t see anything about that anywhere. That would be disgusting if they did.

    2. Ron Swanson

      He’d have to be willing to DH to make that feasible and I’d be surprised if he’s down with that. But…I’ve been surprised before.

  21. Cheryl

    Rick, If you can’t find it you probably were able to check more than I. Must be just another rumor.

  22. Ivy Walls

    Many schools of thought here; Let me start that the lineup will depend much if the Cubs can unload Soriano, (ESPN TWEET that Cubs said 8 AL clubs interested in taking a lot of money for Soriano, heck that is half the league! My guess is that if Cubs can get $9-12M back from the contract they will do it for some low A prospect)

    Next is a lineup that takes the club to May 31. If the Cubs can unload Soriano then I can see a CF platoon of Sappelt/Campana. There in lies the quandary. what to do with Campana? His value really is getting him the most amount of opportunities to disrupt an opposing team’s pitching and defense. Now if he really does gather some body strength, esp upper body strength that will allow him to drive the ball a bit better forcing defenses to respect him more. Second will be if he could learn to get more walks and hit deep in the count. If Campana can improve to .333 OBP his speed will be very disruptive.

    That then lines up DeJesus to bat behind Campana and allow him to run. Then that follows with Castro batting 3rd, LaHair 4th and then their comes a problem. Who protects LaHair? Soto? Byrd? Stewart? May 31st I see BJackson being recalled and playing LF. The Cubs then seek to trade Byrd and eventually LaHair in June/July

    1. gratefulled

      Third, if he learns how to bunt. I’ve never seen someone with that much speed not be able to lay one down. He should be practicing bunting when he wakes up til he goes to bed at night.