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.