Pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training yesterday, which, because almost all of them were already in Mesa, meant that it could actually better be called the day that the media reports to Spring Training. And that means there is much more to discuss – criticize Chicago journalists all you want, but they do something pretty important from my perspective.

  • Blake DeWitt has a tough choice ahead of him it seems. When a player is outrighted off the 40-man roster, he can be assigned to a minor league team, as the Cubs did with DeWitt. There is one caveat, though: if the player has been outrighted once before in his career, he has the right to reject the assignment and become a free agent. Apparently DeWitt has been outrighted once before in his career (or the Cubs are giving him the option to leave), because GM Jed Hoyer said yesterday that DeWitt has until Wednesday to decide if he wants to accept the assignment – and a non-roster invite to Spring Training, which we expected he’d get – or if he’ll become a free agent. One big reason DeWitt might accept the assignment? If he becomes a free agent, he loses his $1.1 million contract for 2012. Then again, if he feels like he has a better shot of making the bigs with another team, it could be worth sacrificing some cash to make that happen. We’ll know by Wednesday.
  • It’s the story that never ends, and I know you’re as tired of it as I am, but I’ve got to report about it. So how about I bury it in a Bullet? Yes, I’m talking about Theo Epstein compensation. Theo, himself, said yesterday that no decision had yet been made (though he referenced being in a meeting for a few hours and assuming that the decision wasn’t made during that time – in other words, he expects it at any moment). ESPN Boston’s Gordon Edes offered this encouraging report: “At this stage, the source says, the Sox are hopeful of acquiring one quality minor-league prospect from the Cubs. They’re resigned to not getting a major leaguer from the Cubs, and acknowledge it probably won’t be one of the Cubs’ premium prospects, like a Brett Jackson or Josh Vitters. But the source says the Sox are insisting on acquiring a prospect with a legitimate chance of making it to the big leagues as a contributor.” If the *best* the Sawx are hoping for at this point is someone who has a “legitimate chance of making it to the big leagues,” it doesn’t sound like the decision is going to be a disaster from the Cubs’ perspective.
  • Cubs Manager Dale Sveum said that only three of the team’s rotation spots are set right now, but declined to named names. He doesn’t have to: Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster are obvious, and the third is almost certainly Paul Maholm, whom the Cubs signed as a free agent to be a starter. All of Randy Wells, Chris Volstad, and Travis Wood still have some measure of “prove it” attached to them.
  • Paul Sullivan notes that the 2012 Cubs could stand to improve in defense, starting pitching, the bullpen, and the offense. Otherwise known as “baseball.” Sadly, it’s not like he’s wrong. Sullivan adds chemistry for good measure.
  • Reed Johnson says one of the big reasons he wanted to come back to Chicago was because he liked the idea of playing for Dale Sveum.
  • David Schoenfield offers a bold prediction for each team in 2012, and, for the Cubs, he offers that Ryan Dempster – not Matt Garza – will be the Cubs’ best pitcher. He bases the prediction on what he says were good peripherals for Dempster last year. And Dempster was a little unlucky last year – despite his FIP and xFIP being in line with the previous two years, Dempster’s ERA shot up a whole run.
  • Phil Rogers says the White Sox could outbid the Cubs for Jorge Soler, but offers no context for his statement other than to note that the White Sox’s farm system is bad and doesn’t have any run producers in the pipeline. Ok.
  • LouCub

    Brett, I think it’s time everyone should ignore Phil Rogers…The guy is a complete ass and throws everybit of shite on the wall to see if it sticks…If the cubs get outbid for Soler it’ll probably be by the Yankees..

    • bluekoolaidaholic

      I did notice however that the Cubs were behind the White Sox in the bidding for Cespedes. That is probably why he thinks they will be behind them in the bidding for Soler.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        To be fair, I believe what’s been reported is that the Cubs were behind the Sox in terms of a 4-year deal – something the Cubs never wanted to do. So, if they were forced to make a 4-year (guaranteed free agency) offer, I’m sure it was pretty low.

  • Joey Jo Jo Junior

    How does Rogers still have a job?

  • Bobby Mudd

    Phil Rogers is a hack…

  • art

    Phil is really Van Dyck, or is it the other way around?

  • oswego chris

    Just bought the BA Prosepct Handbook and the Prospectus…

    so so sad to see the Sox ranked 30th in farms systems….

  • truebluecubbie

    Hopefully DeWitt catches on with another team. He could thrive on a team like the Pirates where he has a chance to play a lot. Hell, the Tigers have a spot at 2nd base open and he would be a better fit than Brandon Inge. Also, I would rather see Wells in the bullpen and have Wood and Volstad start out the season in the rotation. Or maybe see Wells go to the Red Sox as the compensation. I just don’t like Wells, get off my back. lol

  • dick

    Brett, I’m shocked that you didn’t mention the “Cubs Way” manual that Theo announced yesterday. I think a manual plus a mission statement is much more important than putting a good team on the field…. Theo must have gone to business school.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Come on now, dick. You know me better than that. There’s a big Theo post coming soon, which includes his discussion of “The Cubs’ Way.”

    • ferrets_bueller

      Lmao. Oh, god, OBHR classes….worst things ever.

  • LJ

    If Edes,and crew, are finally starting to be more realistic in their compensation expectations for the Sox, it shows that it is finally beginning to dawn on Boston that they are really deserve to get very little in terms of compensation for Theo. If they were that intent on retaining Theo, or in trying to punish him for thinking about leaving, then they should have never given TR permission to talk to him. The minute permission was granted, Boston acknowledged, and even demonstrated, that they were willing to let Theo leave. They tried to sound magnanimous by saying that they wouldn’t stand in the way of anyone getting a promotion to move to another organization, only to show what hypocrites they really are. Throughout all of this circus, you have to applaud, TR, Theo and crew for rising high above the childlike behavior demonstrated by the brain trust at Fenway. If anything it has shown that Theo was a miracle worker in Boston and that TR made the right choice in naming him to lead the franchise into the future.

  • bluekoolaidaholic

    DeWitt as compensation?? Major league experience, former high draft pick, etc. It would be like paying 1.1 mil for Theo, a bargain.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Not sure they’d want him, given how many infielders they’re already going to have to carry (and DeWitt can’t even play short).

      • bluekoolaidaholic

        Good point.
        I’ll bet he was offered though.
        He is a far cry from Garza or Castro, that’s for sure, if that is what they were expecting.
        Another one of those guys with great potential that just never panned out.
        I wish him well, too bad “potential” isn’t on the cash register.

  • bluekoolaidaholic

    I wonder if DeWitt could ever have the skills to be a starter if he was exposed to Sveum’s crew long enough to learn how to play the right way. I think that he, like many others was mis used by Mr.Quade. He certainly had the credentials to make it in the Bigs, but fell by the way somewhere along the line.
    I just ache for someone to take some of these outstanding recruits and teach them how to hit and field well enough to stay in the Big Leagues. Some of them seem to have the necessary raw talent that just never develops.

    • DocWimsey

      DeWitt’s big deficiency is lack of batting eye, and that is not something that is teachable.  I think that people thought that he was going to be a high OBP guy because he got off to a great start with the Dodgers and because of his last year in the minors.  However, the rest of his MLB career has been the same as the rest of his miLB career.  Correspondingly, his performance given contact has been a lot lower than it was those two years.

      He could go to a quicker, shorter (i.e., “slap”) swing, but unless you are built like Frank Thomas, that will deprive you of any power.