I wonder how you deliver the news to a guy that he’s been designated for assignment (as Blake DeWitt was yesterday). It’s not like a full-on release or a trade. A DFA comes with a number of possible outcomes that range from a we-don’t-want-you-at-all release to a we-want-to-keep-you-at-AAA assignment to the minors. Interoffice memo? “To: Blake DeWitt, Subject: We Wanted This New Guy More Than You, But Might Kinda Still Want You, Too.”

  • Chicago Cubs VP of Player Development Oneri Fleita was in Tennessee yesterday to help present the Smokies – the Cubs’ AA affiliate – with Minor League Baseball’s President Award, given to the most “complete” franchise in MiLB. There, he noted a number of very interesting things about the expected, initial makeup of the Smokies. Fleita said he expects starter Dallas Beeler, reliever Kevin Rhoderick, and outfielder Jae-Hoon Ha to be back at AA next year. Daytona first baseman Justin Bour will move up to AA, together with shortstop Elliot Soto.
  • Fleita also said that Junior Lake, who will be back at AA to start the year, has “grown another couple inches.” If true, it’s going to be even harder for Lake to stick at shortstop (perhaps that’s why Soto is getting the bump up to Tennessee). Might he slide over to third to start the year?


  • In a bit of a surprise, Fleita said he also expects top pitching prospect Trey McNutt, who struggled with injuries and ineffectiveness at AA last year, to be back in Tennessee this year. I suppose that’s fair, given his struggles last year, but I’d be surprised if McNutt is in Tennessee all year.
  • Fleita also mentioned that he thinks Tony Campana will stick with the big club in 2012 after adding 10 pounds of muscle in the offseason. I have no problem with Campana on the Cubs’ bench, given his uniquely valuable speed. But with Reed Johnson signed, Campana would have to beat out Dave Sappelt for the 5th outfielder job (assuming he could justify the Cubs carrying an extra outfielder, when Jeff Baker could back up at the corner outfield spots already).
  • Relatedly, here’s a random note: Paul Weaver, who’s been with the Cubs since 2006, working under Fleita, is the Cubs’ International Scouting Director. He’s been in that role for some time, apparently, but folks always seemed to think of Fleita as the real director of international scouting (because he was in charge of international scouting operations – still is). This isn’t really news, but Weaver hasn’t really been discussed here much, so I thought it worth a mention.
  • Speaking of Campana, the Legend of Sam Fuld continues to grow in Tampa Bay. We can joke, but the guy is a pretty great role model for a lot of kids (the article is about Fuld’s Type 1 Diabetes). I have no beef with that.


  • Can Theo Epstein make curling look cool? You tell me.
  • It looks like newly-signed Ryan Rowland-Smith will not get a non-roster invite to Spring Training, if Carrie Muskat’s updated list is to be believed. The lefty pitcher will likely hang out in AAA this year, hoping for a shot.
  • So that’s why Phil Rogers had the Reds all the way down at number 12 in his power rankings – the Cardinals come in at number 11, which means Rogers just thinks the NL Central sucks. That might well be the case, but, a year after sending two teams to the playoffs, including the eventual champion, it’s hard to believe that there are an average of two better teams in every single other division than the best team in the NL Central. Well… then again…
  • Speaking of rankings, the Cubs come in 26th in SI’s first preseason rankings. Thank God the Astros haven’t yet moved to the AL – they come in dead last.
  • Chris Jaffe at the Hardball Times continues to write interesting, quirky, factoid pieces. The latest installment looks at one-hitters throughout history, with a number of Cubs connections. Jaffe also notes the Cubs’ current record streak of not being no-hit since 1965. At least we’ve got that.


  • The Cubs are clearly missing out on a new revenue opportunity: the fragrance market. The Yankees have already beat them to the punch. This is not a joke, apparently.



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