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Back from my colonoscopy this morning (all went well, thanks for the kind words – hopefully what follows is coherent), and plunging right into the rumor mill…

  • As we discussed previously, yesterday Yoenis Cespedes – in the States on a travel visa only (no work visa yet) – met with Marlins’ brass, and toured the facilites in Miami. Marlins’ president David Samson, who has been outspoken in his team’s pursuit of Cespedes, was uncharacteristically vague in his comments after the visit. “It was good to see him again,” Samson said on his weekly segment of the Dan LeBatard Show. “We hadn’t seen him since he was in the Dominican. He’s still not a free agent officially. But he was able to be in town for some appointments, I guess. He wanted to come and see the ballpark, and we’re always happy to show people the ballpark.” Is he being coy? Was he bummed out that he couldn’t snatch up Cespedes immediately on the visit? It just strikes me as odd to go from talking about your aggressive pursuit and a possible offer, to saying things like Cespedes “was able to be in town for some appointments, I guess.”
  • If Cespedes had left the visit with an offer in hand – even though he can’t yet execute a contract – I would be surprised if we didn’t hear about, given how loudly the Marlins were making offers back in December. That said, I wouldn’t read too much into any of this. The Marlins are probably the favorite to sign Cespedes, but a lot can happen before the opening of Spring Training.
  • A Chicago source told me yesterday that he, too, has heard Cespedes is very likely to wind up signing with the Marlins, for what it’s worth.
  • Red Sox sources still expect the Theo Epstein compensation issue to be resolved before the start of Spring Training. After hearing from multiple sources earlier in the week that Josh Vitters’ was the name being tossed around, I’m now told the compensation will probably be of a “lesser value” than Vitters. That sounds more reasonable.
  • Bruce Levine chatted this week, as he does, and the highlights included: (1) Bruce believes Adrian Cardenas could push Darwin Barney for starts if Cardenas’ glove looks good at second base (Levine sees Barney as more of a back-up player); (2) the Cubs will need career years out of a number of players to compete in 2012 (which he said in response to a question about the possibility of trading Matt Garza and Geovany Soto – in other words, the Cubs are going to suck either way); (3) if everyone is healthy and pitching well in Spring Training, Bruce thinks Randy Wells could be traded; (4) Bruce hasn’t heard anything on Jorge Soler; (5) Bruce still thinks compensation to Boston will not be “a top prospect,” and will include some cash; and (6) someone will pick up Blake DeWitt, whom Bruce calls a hard worker and an outstanding individual (but one who was never very impressive on the field).
  • The Rangers bought out shortstop Elvis Andrus’ three arbitration years yesterday for $14.4 million. Andrus has been a career 80 OPS+ hitting, but is coming off his best campaign, in which he hit .279/.347/.361 at age 22. His defense is roundly considered above average at shortstop. Why am I telling you all of this? Starlin Castro’s arbitration years are coming up (he’s likely to be eligible for arbitration next year as a Super Two), and it’s probably time to start thinking about this kind of deal for Castro, if not longer. He gets the security of some guaranteed, life-changing money, and the Cubs get a payroll break in exchange for taking on the risk of injury or ineffectiveness.
  • Rich Harden will miss the 2012 season after another arm injury. He recently underwent shoulder surgery with Dr. James Andrews, who is putting his great grandkids through college thanks to Harden’s largesse.
  • The Red Sox haven’t made much progress on signing Roy Oswalt, who is also being pursued – in theory – by the Cardinals and Reds. Oswalt’s free agency is still of modest relevance to the Cubs, who could see the market for Matt Garza chance ever-so-slightly depending on where Oswalt signs. (It also matters if he signs with the Reds or Cards, for obvious reasons).
  • TWC

    “Rich Harden will miss the 2012 season after another arm injury.”

    I’m shocked, shocked.

    • CubFan Paul

      Shocked!

    • Nathan Erbach

      LeBron’s fault

      • Jay Anderson Jr

        Not funny. You must have been on ESPN earlier. Kendrick Perkins is a bumb, and Lebron is the goat. Perk is just jealous of him. I would be embarrassed if Griffen put his crouch in my face too.

        • bt

          I hate it when bumbs lay on my crouch.

          • EQ76

            bumb? crouch? somewhere in the world an English teacher is shedding a tear..

            • TWC

              Nah, he’s just busy moderating the Bleacher Nation forums.

              • CubFan Paul

                hilarious.

                • ogyu

                  Crouching Grammar, Hidden Spelling

                  • ferrets_bueller

                    you, sir, win the internet.

              • EQ76

                ouch!

            • Wilbur

              Sound suspiciously like Inspector Clouseau! A beaum?

        • ogyu

          Okay, if there’s one thing I don’t want to read at my favorite Cubs site, it’s comments from LeBron knobgobblers.

          • ferrets_bueller

            Amen. Any discussion of that bum needs to go elsewhere.

          • Jay Anderson Jr

            Must be a Bulls fan. Me, I hate the Bulls. D-Rose is the most overrated player in the NBA. Him winning the MVP was a complete joke. LBJ is the MVP every year. Hes having the greatest season ever this year.

            • Toosh

              I’ve often thought James is one of the most overrated players in the NBA.

            • ogyu

              Nobody here cares or wants to hear about it.

              • ferrets_bueller

                I’d rather listen to die hard.

                • die hard

                  cant pull me into this one….ask MG….hes good for an idea or two on any subject

            • ogyu

              Annoying, irrelevant garbage on BN?

              LeBron’s fault.

            • ferrets_bueller

              No one is more overrated than LBJ.

            • Lebrons a quitter

              Rose=Clutch and Lebron=scared
              Lebron not only freezes up in the 4th qtr. during playoff games. He absolutely quit when he was on the Cavs against the Celts his last year. I have never seen someone give up like that…

              • ogyu

                Please, please, stop this madness.

              • ferrets_bueller

                he’s a joke. and even if the heat win this season, he’ll still be a joke. Because if they win, i can almost guarantee it will because Wade carried them- not that loser.

                • SirCub

                  Yea, he really is a clown, but the whole league is at this point. Perkins is complaining about LeBron’s tweeting habits? Really? Do these guys ever talk or care about basketball? Seems like all of the big stars spend way too much time grooming their image, and talking about how so and so shouldn’t be talking about them.

              • Jay Anderson Jr

                Funny, they used to say the same things about Micheal Jordan.

                • MichiganGoat

                  Is the news so slow we are discussing the NBA? A league that is so inferior, so poorly managed, so completely uncompetative, and so player centric that it become nothing more than a highlight show. I’m positive that this is a Chicago Cubs blog. The NBA is a joke and it will always be a joke until the fans and the commish stops allowing the players to be the focus.

                  • CubsWin

                    uncompetitive. No a in there. Just trying to help.

                    • MichiganGoat

                      Good catch, that’s what I get for typing in the parking lot

    • Ian Afterbirth

      Here are your winnings, sir.

  • Joe N

    Maybe I didn’t read it right when it first happened, but I thought I remember Cespedes saying a couple of weeks ago that he was not going to go to the Marlins. If that is the case, what happened? If I’m not remembering correctly, please forgive me. I’m apparently getting old.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      There were rumors that he’d told folks he didn’t want to go to Miami.

      • Jay Anderson Jr

        Bargaining chip. If I tell you I don’t wanna be there, maybe you offer me more to come. If he tells them he wants to be there, they have less incentive to offer top dollar.

        • Brady

          Then why would he say “Hopefully I can play for the Marlins…” if he was trying to drive his price up there. I think he truly doesn’t want to play there but wants to get the biggest offer possible. By saying he wants to go elsewhere he will probably get higher bids from other offices. I think he has heard what Miami has to offer and wants something better.

          • SirCub

            Gosh, I know we love to play this game around here of, “what does he really mean?” But I tend to take Cespedes’ words at face value. It is definitely one thing when you are talking about a GM or agent, who clearly choose their words very carefully, but I don’t see any reason not to believe this quote is genuine. It’s not a final verdict, but it shows which way he’s leaning.

            • Brady

              I see your point but also know that behind every want to be superstar there is a cunning agent wanting to get paid as well. I dont hold it above him to say what he is told to say. I’d love to play in Chicago if I was a ball player but that is probably because I am a fan of the game and not of the “in your face” theatrics of some ball parks. On a side note, how long do yall think it will take before PETA complains about fastballs hitting the fishtank and probably drive the fish nuts?

              • SirCub

                Giant sign on the tank that says, “PLEASE DO NOT HIT IT HERE”

                • Brady

                  I mean I have no problem with it, so long as the glass (well probably plastic) is strong enough to take the pounding and it doesnt explode onto the field. I just see this as one of those annoying lawsuits you hear about on the news from time to time.

  • Dougy D

    Do you feel lighter, Brett?

    • Leroy Kleimola

      HA! Good to know it went ok Brett

  • ibcnu2222 (John)

    Bad news for Rich. He is a real nice guy. I met him on 08 when I worked for the Cubs.

  • Toosh

    Reading Levine’s description of DeWitt, “a hard worker and an outstanding individual”, reminds me of what some people thought of a GM the Cubs used to have. Overall, his work wasn’t very impressive, either.

  • Kurt

    Aren’t you kind of young to be having a colonscopy, or are you too vain to update your pic?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’m 30. It’s a family history thing.

      • Kurt

        ouch, or were you asleep?

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I believe they call it “twilight.” I was awake, but not really all there.

          • Kurt

            Back in the day (70′s-80′s) they’d send in a very attractive nurse to help with the procedure as most men try to macho up in front of an attractive lass.

            You were awake. Good times.

            When they hit the ‘bend in the road’ ‘most’ men would weep like little girls…hottie not withstanding.

            Only thing close to that kind of pain might be a kidney stone.

          • ferrets_bueller

            Thats the best way to be when being forced to watch Twilight.

  • imwhitti

    Ouch!!! Where’s the love, man.

  • Jay Anderson Jr

    I thought Cespedes was a must sign at 30-40 mil, at 60 mil, I’m not so sure. I’m starting to turn against it. I still think he a great player, but the money is getting high.

    • JB88

      Based on what? I guess the information that is available for a casual fan is so limited that I don’t even know how someone would begin to be for or against the Cubs spending money on a player like Cepedes.

      Basically, at this point, I’m willing to give every benefit of the doubt to the FO.

  • http://mysports1-Twitter Jim

    Why were rumors flying around the past 2-3 weeks that the Cubs were the favorites in the Cespedes sweepstakes? From my understanding, the Cubs were the first team to contact him, they were constantly following up with him and he almost felt he owed it to the Cubs to come play for them, now the Marlins are the favorite? Agree with Jay that the money being driven up may not be worth it now. So who are the Cubs banking on in 2013 and 2014 to turn the club around? Need stars and the Darvish/Cespedes pursuit may net neither player.

  • Cliffy

    QT @jaysonst: Cespedes could head back to the Dominican as soon as today. No more meetings w/ teams scheduled “for now,” agent says http://t.co/AzoMHv5K

  • Mike Foster

    “…and the Cubs get a payroll break in exchange for taking on the risk of injury or ineffectiveness.”

    Don’t forget “jail time” as a possible. Just saying….or did that evaporate?

  • die hard

    Still cant figure out the 3-4-5 hitters and Castro cant be one of them until he proves he can take any fastball deep…his propensity for punching the ball over or between the infielders is a 1 or 2 hitter…

  • Cliffy

    Now this sounds reasonable.

    QT @daybreak1012: I think we should be accruing interest!! =P RT @redsoxstats: 128 days without Theo Epstein compensation. #redsox #cubs

  • oswego chris

    I usually don’t like to go anywhere near the off season batting order discussion….but I think Castro HAS to hit number three…he had 200 hits….I asked this question on Bruce Levine’s Chat last week and he agreed(not that it means we are absolutely right)…I don’t care how he did last year batting third….he is the only legit 3 hitter on the team….if he is as good as he is supposed to be, he bats 3….

    • die hard

      his BA better feasting on down the middle fastballs or flat curve balls batting leadoff….. wonder what he batted with runners in scoring position?…I am sure Theo knows and will keep him at the top unless he does a Sandberg transformation and drives the ball …..I would take 150 hits and a .275 avg from him with 35 HR, 125 rbi and 100 runs as a 3-4-5…

      • DocWimsey

        Theo knows enough probability to tell you that how a batter hits with runners in scoring position one year is as good as a coin-flip for telling you how he’ll bat the next year. No players do significantly better/worse than their normal batting average given the small sample sizes involved.

        What Theo will also tell you is that the key to getting RBI is batting with a lot of runners on base. Basically, if you plot RBI against runners on base (especially scoring position), then you’ll get a pretty good correlation. The remainder reflects slugging: HR and doubles drive in a much greater proportion of runners than do singles.

    • Edwin

      I think Castro does better as a 2 hitter. Castro gets most of his offensive production from his batting average. Bat Castro 2nd, and bat your highest OBP guy leadoff. This would be the best way to blend a high mix of at bats, with a decent amount of chances to drive runners in.

      • oswego chris

        really I think the order is many times overblown…just as long as you protect guys(if you can) and get your best guys to the plate as much as possible…but some guys can’t adjust…look at Ryno-refused to bat anywhere but second….If Castro doesn’t hit third I would lead him off…the two-hole depends on the managers philosophy…if Svuem prefers a prototypical 2 hitter(bunt, hit behind runners) then I wouldn’t want him there….he has to be 1,2 or 3…

        • DocWimsey

          Actually, Ryno did very well batting 3rd in 1985 and again in the early 1990′s. However, you really hit the nail on the head with this line: “get your best guys to the plate as much as possible.” How many times your leadoff guy bats is almost solely determined by team OBP. (Extra-inning games and schedule weirdness has a very small effect, too.) How often your #2 guy bats is down to Team OBP & Leadoff OBP. Etc., etc.

          So, get a lineup of high OBP guys and make sure that you’ve got really good OBP at 1 & 2, and your #3 & #4 batters will bat a lot. (They’ll also get a ton of RBI by just sneezing!)

    • Mick

      I won’t avoid the batting order issue, here’s what I like:

      Byrd
      DeJesus
      Castro
      LaHair
      Soto
      Soriano
      Stewart
      Barney

      I don’t like Castro in the 2-spot because often times the second hitter is expected to sacrifice themselves to advance the runners. Like we did with Grace, I like the guy with the high average hitting third to drive in some runners.

  • Mick

    Keith Law is doing a live chat right now in regards to his top-100 prospect rankings, here are some questions/answers relating to the Cubs:

    Question on guys like Montero, Wilmer Flores, and others – why do teams keep a player *everyone* knows can’t play a position there so long? I get giving them a shot, but if the whole industry knows someone can’t play C, doesn’t it make sense to see if they can handle 1B or LF as early as possible?

    Klaw
    There is so much more value in having a guy catch than having him at 1b/dh, and those latter positions are relatively easy to learn (well, 1b is, or lf), that it makes sense to keep a guy behind the plate (or at shortstop or in CF) as long as possible. My only real concern would be a catcher getting plowed into by Reggie Golden or the likes of him.

    Sam (Chicago)
    Have you seen or heard anything about Gerardo Concepcion, the 19 year Cuban pitcher the Cubs signed for $7.5 million last week?

    Klaw
    Athletic LHP, upper 80s fastball, avg curveball, not a great delivery, lacks present command.

    Dan (Chicago)
    How did Trey McNutt fall out of the top 100?

    Klaw
    Injuries, trouble repeating delivery, poor results. In that order, really. I do still like him quite a bit.

    Joe (Chicago)
    How close to the Cubs top 10 was Ronald Torreyes? Judging by his extremely low strikeout rate and high batting average, he seems to have a pretty good hit tool…is he a good candidate to jump up the list if he can prove his size won’t hold him back at a higher level this year?

    Klaw
    I don’t think he has a star ceiling, but he could be a top ten guy in a year depending on trades/promotions. He’s not just short, but he’s slight. If I was about two inches taller, I’d look just like him, and I do not have a big-leaguer’s physique.

    Dave (NJ)
    Do you consider Cespedes like Darvish, not a prospect?

    Klaw
    I didn’t rank him or Soler because they’re unsigned. Cespedes is borderline – he’ll probably go to the minors, but at 27 (at least) he would be two or three years older than anyone else on the list (I think).

    Ryan (Dallas)
    Thoughts on one of the most debated guys from the 2011 draft: Dan Vogelbach?

    Klaw
    Heavy D? Maybe if he gets to AA and is still productive and conditioned enough to play, we can talk.

    Reid (Hawaii)
    Love your stuff. As a Padres fan, wasn’t keen on the Rizzo for Cashner trade. Do you think Cashner has a chance to be a starter?

    Klaw
    Zero chance. Won’t hold up.

    Darren (LA)
    Junior Lake good enough to be in Cubs top 10 within a year?

    Klaw
    Only if someone teaches him how to play baseball.

    • ferrets_bueller

      Not a Law fan, but I love that last line. Couldn’t agree more about lake.

      • Mick

        I liked Law’s response to the first question about not wanting a catcher convert being plowed into by the likes of Reggie Golden. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for Golden, the Ron Gant comparisions get me excited.

  • Ivy Walls

    regarding compensation: I thought Epstein might let Vitters go as his stock continues to plummet, though my guess is that Jay Jackson but don’t be surprised that Barney is let go in some deal. Cubs have been showing their hand constantly looking for a utility player and saying that Barney is a utility player as the Red Sox need a capable SS.

    Other players to watch are Golden, Lake, Clevenger or even Castillo

  • dhCubsFan

    I totally agree about Barney. He was an exciting player for a couple months, but he has utility player skills – no power, no speed, maybe a decent BA at best.

  • Eric

    I can tell you Brett is feeling very relaxed right now. I had a colonoscopy in my 20s. At that time I was having alot of pain and IBS, I’m alot better now but I got one just to be on the safe side. I don’t care what they call it, I was completely “asleep” as far as I remember, you don’t even remember or feel what happened. And you just remember “waking up” in the recovery room. The whole day after I came home I was very relaxed it was probably the effect of the drug they gave you.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      It’s very, very hard to work today. My head keeps bobbing.

      • Eric

        lol, enjoy it while it lasts. I’d almost get another one just to have that feeling all day again.

  • King Jeff

    I suggested that the Cubs needed to start thinking about an extension for Castro and I got shut down by just about everyone on the message board(Brett included). I guess me and the Goat are just ahead of the curve. Here is the link.
    http://www.bleachernation.com/forum/index.php?/topic/38-starlin-castro/page__hl__%2Bstarlin+%2Bcastro__fromsearch__1

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Yeah, I’ve done a 180 on the Castro extension thing, *assuming* he’s into giving the Cubs a break in exchange for long-term security (which is pretty much what all pre-arb extensions are).

    • CubFan Paul

      the Elvis Andrus extension (3yrs $14.4M) looks like a *steal* for Castro after next year but Castro will have 4 arb years (i think../because of super 2) so signing him to a 5yr $20M deal now is market rate and he’s guaranteed to outperform it

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