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I’d reckon that most of you are familiar with Al Yellon’s BleedCubbieBlue blog (the Cubs’ rep on the SB Nation network). I’ve been a reader and commenter over there for a long time, and Al recently asked if I would be in contributing an occasional post. So, starting on Monday, a few times a week, I’ll be putting together a bullets-style post consisting of items of interest from around MLB (i.e., non-Cub). If you just can’t get enough Brett-Bullets here at BN, head over to BCB next week to get additional fix. And now, back to your originally-scheduled programming…

  • Cubs’ GM Jed Hoyer was on the radio yesterday speaking candidly on a wide range of topics (many of which will be the subject of upcoming posts), as we have come to expect from the new guys in charge. One subject on Hoyer’s mind was the past and future performance of the Cubs’ expected closer, Carlos Marmol. “I don’t think what happened last year is acceptable,” Hoyer said Thursday on “The Carmen, Jurko & Harry Show” on ESPN 1000. “I think there’s nothing more demoralizing to a baseball team than to win for 2:45 and then lose in the last 10. I think that happened a lot last year. If you look back, this guy has had some dominant years …. Everyone said the slider wasn’t quite the same last. Hopefully there are some mechanical things we can do to get that back. Blowing 10 saves isn’t acceptable, but we’re not wiling to say he can’t get back to where he was before.” It’s odd to hear a GM speaking from a default position that “we won’t say he *won’t* be good again,” rather than “we think he’ll get it back next year.” I know they’re just words, but it almost sounds a little defeatist. I’m confident that the Cubs would have preferred to move Marmol this Winter, but the closer market collapsed pretty early in the offseason. So, I think Marmol’s already behind the 8-ball a little bit with this front office, and hopefully he’ll pitch well enough in the first half of the year to give the Cubs some options.
  • Jed will soon be heading to Spring Training, to which he’s driving from Chicago with his dog. Of note, Hoyer says the Cubs will be having their organizational meetings next week (Wednesday and Thursday), which meetings you’ll recall were postponed from early in the offseason. I imagine that a number of the things typically discussed at organizational meetings have already been settled, and these meetings will be about a variety of important in-season items (player development and scouting, what players should be focusing on, etc. – making sure that everyone in a position of authority in the organization is on the same page).
  • Ryan Dempster was on MLBN Radio discussing his and the Cubs’ struggles, and the 34-year-old starter says he hopes to stay in Chicago for a long, good time. “I’ve never quit anything in my life and I don’t want to quit it now,” Dempster said. “I want to be there when we’re winning and we’re winning on a consistent basis and, most importantly, when we’re winning a World Series. If that means you’re fighting through some tough times, sometimes that makes it more gratifying in the end …. I’m looking forward to, hopefully, staying in Chicago the rest of my career and being a Cub and [helping to bring] a World Series to [a] city that deserves it so much now on the North Side.” I’ve always liked Ryan Dempster, and I want him to achieve success. But, unfortunately, it’s hard to see him back on the Cubs in 2013 – if he continues to slide this year, the Cubs may not want him back; if he pitches well this year, he might price himself out of the Cubs’ reasonable range.
  • If you wanted to buy Carlos Zambrano’s Chicago residence, it just got a little easier. Now, instead of throwing away an unthinkable $969,000 on Zambrano’s 13-room, 4,000 square foot home in River Forest, you can get it for a mere $929,000. If you point out all the holes in the walls, I bet you can get another $10k knocked off.
  • Cubs owner Laura Ricketts introduced President Obama at a fundraiser last night, and the President was gracious: Thank you, Laura, for the wonderful introduction – the best introduction that a Cubs fan has ever given me,” Obama said. “The rivalry is fierce in Chicago, but I’ll make an exception here.” That’s nice and all, Mr. President, but we’ll never forget what you said about Cubs fans a few years ago: “You go to Wrigley Field, you have a beer, beautiful people up there. People aren’t watching the game. It’s not serious. White Sox, that’s baseball. South Side.” For shame, sir. (This is not an invitation to discuss politics, folks. You may freely criticize President Obama for his embarrassingly terrible choice in baseball teams, but that’s it.)
  • Jon Morosi offers an interesting take on the pressures associated with signing a $100 million contract.
  • When lineup discussions come up this early, you often hear people grouse that “we’re really talking about this already?” Well, here’s something to get you grousing: how about a discussion on what the lineup will look like … in June. Courtesy of Oswego Chris on the BN Message Board.
  • Cliffy

    Does anybody else think Cubs still have a chance to sign Cespedes? Just throwing it out there that Marlins President Samson says openly they “don’t need him” but want him. Then combine that with the perceived speculation that Marlins have a limit on money willing to spend to sign him should still give us some hope.

    QT @Brendan_Tobin: Samson on #Marlins interest in Cespedes: “We want him, but we don’t need him” http://t.co/JBCSyjlV

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I still think the Cubs have a chance. Sure.

    • Wilbur

      Cubs definitely have a chance.

      Interesting situation to watch, this player does not appear to be a game changer if you get him or doom the franchise if you don’t. It’s just an opportunity (that won’t exist in the future) to pick up major league talent and not suffer anything more than paying “top dollar plus an over slot payment.”.

  • MichiganGoat

    Brett, our baby alls growns up and yous growns up good

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6KALJy9fw2Q

    Congrats on you growing dominance in the all things Cubs on the interweb.

  • http://punshouse.com Nate Corbitt

    Say Dempster pitches decent this season. Do you think the Cubs would bring him back as a back end guy if he offered them a hometown discount?

    • jt

      i’m thinking he’ll need a career year this year in order to even spark a discussion. that’s my own ill informed opinion, simply based on how the new front office has acted since being in place.

    • MichiganGoat

      It would have to be a discount like Kerry gave the Cubs last year. If he starts off strong I’m sure the FO will try to talk him into a trade but even if he is lights out this year I’m sure the FO will be very hesitant to give him a contract. They are not looking to sign 35 yr old pitchers.

      • King Jeff

        I wouldn’t put it past Dempster to come back and pitch another year or two at 3 or 4 million a year with incentives if he pitches well this year and decides to keep going. He does seem like the kind of guy who would leave money on the table to help the team win, as a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure he deferred salary to help the team a few years ago.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          I think the hometown discount is less an issue than is having to give him a rotation/roster spot. Dempster has to be worth it. That said, this front office does value having a few veteran, “good clubhouse” types in place” (Chemistry Cat).

          • baseballet

            We shouldn’t underestimate Dempster. He had a horrible start to the 2011 season but he’s been a great pitcher for the Cubs. I know he’s getting old but he might still have a couple really good years in the tank.
            It’s interesting to compare his numbers over the last four years with Garza’s. If you go by WAR and innings pitched (per Fangraphs), Dempster outperformed Garza:
            Dempster (2008 – 2011): 15.1 WAR and 823.4 innings pitched
            Garza (2008 – 2011): 12.6 WAR and 789.4 innings pitched.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Yes, but each has been heading in a different direction over those four years. And Dempster is six years old than Garza. Comparing those four years doesn’t really tell much of the story.

              Dempster could still have several passable years in the tank. No argument there. He could also fall off a cliff.

              • baseballet

                Garza’s direction is somewhat to be determined. He had a great 2011, but in 2010 he only had a 1.6 WAR, which is worse than what Dempster had last season. So Garza has been up and down the last two years. I hope 2011 indicates that he is on the way up, but it’s possible that he’s closer to a 3 WAR pitcher unless he truely made a leap last season.
                Also of note, last year Demp had a BABIP of .324 while Garza’s was .306. So Demp was unlucky by comparison.
                I agree that Garza is a more valuable pitcher for the next two years, but I think Garza is overvalued and Dempster undervalued.

                • DocWimsey

                  Garza’s performance on peripherals was significantly better in 2011 than in 2010, and basically in line with his 2009 performance. In particular, Garza greatly reduced his flyballs; his drop in HR allowed followed that.

                  Dempster, on the other hand, has been trending somewhat upwards in these stats over the last three years.

                  So, I’d consider Garza to be much more valuable than Dempster right now. More importantly, I’ll bet that 29 GMs think that same!

                  • baseballet

                    Yes, but in 2009 Garza did not have a top-of-the-rotation quality season. He had a 3.1 WAR and an ERA of 3.95 (Dempster eclipsed both of those totals that season). And G’s 2010 performance is troubling, with only a 1.6 WAR.

                    As I said previously, I agree that Garza is more valuable than Dempster right now, I’m only arguing that Cubs fans tend to overvalue G and undervalue D. D is by no means a charity case for a roster spot. He’s a good #3 starter.

        • Wilbur

          Could happen this way, particularly if the new pitchers that have been acquired regress instead of progress.

        • CubFan Paul

          eh, Dempster looked “gassed” last year. We’ll be lucky if he’s league average this year.

          • SirCub

            I wouldn’t be disappointed to have a league average (or maybe a little worse) pitcher on our team in 2013-2014, as long as we aren’t relying on him at the top of the rotation. I’d love to have Demp on a home-town friendly deal as a 4 or 5 starter (when we are in contention).

    • Beer Baron

      I think its very possible, assuming of course he does pitch well and shows he has another year or two left in him. Depends on a lot of things – how do the young guys perform (Wood, Volsted, Wells) and at this time next year are we counting on any or all of them to be in the rotation? Do the Cubs land any of the big name starters potentially available in free agency next year? What happens with Garza, and if he’s traded is there now another young pitcher needing a spot? Any minor leaguers (McNutt?) ready to move up? And, what could be the actual deciding factor, how does Maholm do this year? They have a club option on him for next year – if he sucks but Dempster does well and is willing to sign for the same amount, maybe they take him instead to have a veteran presence at the back of the rotation.

      Either way, contrary to what many have said, the Cubs will not trade Dempster at the deadline because he won’t approve the trade as has 10/5 rights.

      • CubFan Paul

        “because he won’t approve the trade as has 10/5 rights” ..why? Guys waive the right to be traded “all” the time

        • Beer Baron

          and guys refuse to accept a trade “all the time”, too. I’m just saying in my opinion, because of family reasons he will choose to stay here until he has to leave (ie the Cubs don’t employ him any longer). I certainly could be wrong, but I would be shocked if he accepted a deal unless its just a perfect scenario – that is why the union fought for the 10/5 rules so guys don’t have to uproot their familes if they don’t want to. Again, just my opinion.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            To the contrary, I’ve heard Dempster would be willing to accept a trade in the right situation (in other words, he wouldn’t blanket-block all trades, in part because of his appreciation for the Cubs’ organization).

  • cccubfan

    Brett – do you think if the Cubs can’t unload Soriano on somebody and Jackson has a good spring that they’ll release Soriano outright?
    just curious about another persons opinion on this…..

    • King Jeff

      I think Soriano’s power and the current makeup of the Cubs team, makes him too important to just release him mid season. Of course if he’s hitting .210 with 2 homeruns(or something similar) at the end of May, then it’s a different story.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Not only that, but I can’t see the Cubs starting Jackson in the bigs in April, both for service time reasons, and for readiness reasons.

        • CubFan Paul

          But what IF soriano looks even older than he does know during the spring (!) I mean if he can’t run in the field & produces a sub .300 OBP they almost have to release before the season. right?

          we have Dave Sappelt & Campana who can hold down the fort til BJax comes up

          • Luis Salazar

            Exactly, that’s why the Cubs should move him, even they pay 51 of the 54 mill. He is an absolutely horrible player at this point in his career. Who cares that he is a decent guy in the locker room. I am sick of hearing that arguement. IMO any cap relief at all should be accepted and move on from that train wreck in left…

            • CubFan Paul

              i guess the question is: do the cubs have an extra $36M in the budget this year to send Soriano packing

              • ogyu

                If the Cubs got rid of Soriano and agreed to pay 100% of his salary, it would not cost them any more than if they kept him. The only financial impact would be whatever they pay the person who fills his roster spot.

                • CubFan Paul

                  i think they have to include his 2013 & 2014 salary ($36M) in a trade or to him if he’s released ..i thnk

                • Beer Baron

                  If they trade him and agree to pay most/all of his salary, that money is due within 18 months (and its $54 million, not $36). If they keep him it is due in equal installments over the next 36 months. I think if they cut him that is the same too – he just keeps getting his paycheck even though he’s on the couch. So the big difference is swallow hard and pay it all now, or make the payments easier but the team worse by spreading it out. Easy for us to say, but the Ricketts’ have to write that massive check.

                  Could be if they lose out on Cespedes they take the money allocated for that and make Soriano go away.

                  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                    That 18 months thing – where did you get that from? I’ve heard that a few times, but have never been able to find a hard source.

                    • Beer Baron

                      I know I read it somewhere around the time of the Zambrano deal. Thought it was Bruce Levine, but I just looked through his archives and couldn’t find it. Closest to a “source” I can find is this (toward the bottom): http://chicagocubsonline.com/archives/2011/12/cubsnewsrumors_42.php which cites Levine, but the link doesn’t support it.

        • Wilbur

          I’m of the same mind.

          Until the Cubs develop a corner outfielder who can hit 20 plus HR’s and drive in 80 plus runs Soriano is secure in LF. No other team wants him at a price the FO thinks matches his value. That being the case the only option is to play him until you develop a player who can outperform him.

          Is Jackson the 20 plus HR’s and 80 RBI;s guy? While I doubt it, he will have several chances to prove that over the next two years. If he or someone else becomes “that guy” maybe you give Soriano away in 2014, but I just don’t see it happening before then.

          • http://cubbiescrib.com Luke

            Jackson has a very good chance to hit 20 HR on a regular basis, but I doubt he does it in his first couple of seasons in the majors.

            LaHair, on the other hand, might be there already. If he produces while starting the season at first, I think he’ll get the opportunity to keep producing in left.

            • CubFan Paul

              wouldn’t it make sense to release/trade Soriano now for any kind of salary relief (even if its only $1M) and start the season with Sappelt/Johnson/Campy in Left? i dont know the saber-WAR side but the better defense with their offense makes up for the loss right?

              Or if Rizzo & LaHair both tear it up in ST, & Rizzo is deemed “ready” and soriano looks like a dog who can’t get on base wouldn’t releasing him then & starting LaHair in Left & Rizzo at 1B be ideal?

              • rcleven

                Releasing or trading Soriano now would be stupid unless there is considerable salary relief. At this point in time the Cubs have no proven power hitters. I’m not saying he should be the every day starter in left but he still has value in coming off the bench and starting against left handed pitching.

                • CubFan Paul

                  i disagree, the players replacing soriano would cost less than $2M ..not sure what makes that “stupid”

                  • rcleven

                    Your out your 17mm a year no matter what you do. What kind of production do you think your 2mm men will produce? I don’t see 40 RBI’s coming from the trio of replacement outfielders we have. There is still more value in Sorri. Until there the Cubs can develop a 20 Hr 60-70 HR corner outfield giving him away makes no sense. Development time for who we have now should be done on a part time basis. Ya you improve your defense playing the kids but you also loose a lot of offense.

                    Didn,t get a link to reply. I am not a great Sorri fan. Bjax is is the key to getting rid of him but he won’t be in Wrigley to start the year. That leaves Johnson & Campana . Sappelt I don’t know will be in Chicago on opening day. Too weak of bat to carry a corner. Rizzo won’t open year in Chicago there for so other outfield option is now playing 1st. Leaves Johnson as your every starter under your theory. I believe younger players have to play but they also have to prove they belong. Campy can steal yes. Can he get on base? he has not proved that yet. I still haven’t seen where any production out of the current options of outfielder’s will be better than having Sorri off the bench. Maybe 200 at bats for him. Split the other 400 at bats with who ever plays the strongest.

                    • CubFan Paul

                      a Dave Sappelt or Reed Johnson (batting 2nd, 7th or 8th)/LaHair (batting 4th or 5th) platton would produce 20-30HRs, 50-80RBI

                      brett Jackson starting the year in Left: 15HRs, 40SBs, 50rbi

                      a Campana/Dave Sappelt platoon would produce 50-80SB (all from campana) & 40-60rbi between them

                      rcleven you totally dismiss BJax, LaHair, Sappelt, Campy, and Reed Johnson as if they wouldn’t put numbers if they played regularly and/or platooned properly

                    • ferrets_bueller

                      Whoaaaaaa whoa whoa…Brett Jackson, 40SB? He’ll be lucky if he ever passes up 30 in his career. he’s an athletic guy, but not that athletic. He’s got 20SB speed. This is a guy who has every tool ‘good,’ but none outstanding.

                    • SirCub

                      Wouldn’t it be awesome if instead of having to platoon these guys or decide who to start, we could actually combine them. A player with Soriano’s power, Jackson’s defense, Campana’s speed, Lahair’s plate discipline, and Reed Johnson’s ability to take HBP’s? That would be awesome.

            • baseballet

              Good point! Lets hope that at some point this season Rizzo plays first and LaHair plays left field and that both surprise with big bats. I know the odds are against it, but it’s Spring and it’s still possible.

  • Elwood

    Regardless of politics, you can tell Obama is a White Sox fan by the way he throws a baseball! He throws like a sissy!!!!! Anyone else remember his ceremonial first pitches?!?!?! We have fans that can make home plate from the left field bleachers!!!!

  • baseballet

    Regarding Marmol, I remember reading that the Cubs overused him pretty terribly the last few years. I don’t know if that’s true–I don’t know how many innings a closer should work as compared to the number of innings Marmol threw the past two seasons, but I’ll bet someone on this board will know.
    Also, Cubs Den mentions a Marmol rumor in today’s post, although they don’t source it:
    “Carlos Marmol has been put on notice that he needs to come to camp in shape. He was letting his conditioning slide quite a bit, some have said he got plain ‘fat’.”
    http://www.chicagonow.com/cubs-den/2012/02/latest-on-vitters-cespedes-marmol/

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’d be lying if I said he didn’t look big-ish at CubsCon.

  • ferrets_bueller

    Severely disappointed that that article didn’t include pictures of Jed’s dog. Love goldens.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Ball = dropped.

  • King Jeff

    I was actually a fan of Obama until he spouted that crap. I guess they don’t like to watch “real baseball” on the south side, since nobody(not even Mr. Obama) shows up to the games. When you can’t even sell out when your team is in a World Championship season, you shouldn’t rip on fans of other teams.

    • cjdubbya

      I guess “real baseball fans” jump the field and beat the crap out of the opposition’s base coaches. That’s not idiocy, that’s not lunacy, that’s just showing support for your team, because you’re a “real baseball fan”.

    • ferrets_bueller

      Goldman Sachs pawn.

      I’m not saying anything.

    • DocWimsey

      New Yorkers look at it the other way around, or at least the ones that I know. They *hate* it when the local politicians try to pretend that they are fans of both the Mets and the Yankees. A Met fan will *hate* you for being a Yankees fan, but he/she/it will *disrespect* you for pretending to be a fan of both. (Yankee fans just look puzzled if you mention the Mets!)

      I was a neighbor of Obama’s until I left Chicago. That region (Hyde Park) does lean heavily towards the ChiSox: and, trust me, all ChiSox fans say the same things about the Cubs. Of course, so many people are there because of the University that all of the Harvard grads bring in a lot of Red Sox (= Real Sox! ;-)) fans, and there always are lots of Yankee fans in a community like that. However, because so many non-Chicagoans associate the Cubs with Chicago baseball, the “furrnurs” do tend to think of the Cubs before the ChiSox.

  • JB88

    I’ve always had the belief that at just about any baseball game you will find between 15-20 thousand true fans and after that are the kids and people who are there for an entertainment event.

    I don’t think there is really anything wrong with what President Obama says — it is just that the Sox ONLY draw true fans. The Cubs draw their 15-20K fans, but also attract little kids, and lots of people who are there to be entertained. The difference is the venue and location. Reinsdorf and the Sox were idiots for rebuilding Comisky in that neighborhood. Seriously, who in their right mind wants to go to a night game staring out onto the Robert Taylor homes?

    • rcleven

      Problem with the Cell Public parking is 9 blocks from the park. People don’t want to walk that far in that neighborhood.

  • RoughRiider

    I’ve never actually met a White Sox fan. As for Obama ……………………….. Brett, You said I couldn’t say anything.

  • gritsngravy

    Obama is a sox fan and since he is a sox fan I would respect him less if he said good things about the cubs. My best friend is a die hard sox fan and he says oh I want to see the cubs win a world series. I tell him that I don’t want him to pull for the cubs to win a world series because he is a sox fan. I respect people who stick with there team no matter what.

    • cjdubbya

      I do too…doesn’t mean that I can’t hate that comment he made way back when. Several years back, when the ChiSox won the series, a couple of my co-workers said that I should be happy for them, because they’re from the Midwest region of the country. No freakin’ way. I can understand their point, I just don’t agree with it.

      Not our fault that people actually feel safe on the North side. Yeah, there are a bunch of fans at the game for the social aspect at Wrigley, but don’t discount everyone for the antics of a few.

      • Jim

        I have Sox fan friends who said the same thing. Yeah I should be happy for those mouth breathing, meth heads when two years earlier they were foaming at the mouth at the thought of the Cubs advancing to the World Series, and when the Bartman incident happened, they couldn’t stop the email jokes or harassing phone calls. F*** the Sox and their fans.

  • die hard

    Does keeping Soriano act as a reminder of past bad decisions and argue for an out of sight out of mind approach to just let him go? As with Zambrano, the FO felt that cant have him hanging around anymore if team is to go forward. Maybe same is true as to Soriano. If his salary was only $3 million/yr do you think the Cubs would hesitate to cut him? So, why should large salary change thinking? A bad deal is a bad deal. The pain of keeping him will outweigh pain of letting him go. Trying to squeeze a few ounces of remaining juice out of this lemon of a decision is just not worth it, plain and simple.

    • http://www.casualcubsfan.com hansman1982

      Wow, using your thinking lets play What If:
      You own 2 cars, one that you owe $5,400 on and one that you owe $900 on. Both have 3 years remaining on the loan payments. You have another car that you could get for $50 but first you have to dump one of the other two cars that you have.

      Are you honestly saying that you would rather write a check for $5400 than $900?

  • hcs

    Living on the South Side, I am in a definite minority, and in fact if I wear my Cubs hat into the wrong bar, I run the risk of being accosted by a Neanderthal in an AJ Pierczynski jersey, but at the same time, I have known decent Sox fans who love the game, and who would rather see a world series championship come to Chicago than anywhere else, even if it is for the Cubs. It’s hard for me to defend them, knowing that the majority are recently paroled knuckle draggers, but the decent ones exist.

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