With the end of Spring rapidly approaching, the Cubs are going to have to make a couple roster moves to get the 40-man roster in line, with the expected additions of guys like Blake DeWitt, Joe Mather, Rodrigo Lopez, and possibly another reliever. Look for some things to happen in the next couple days.

  • The baseball world went extension crazy over the last few days, with the two big ones being Giants starter Matt Cain (5 years, $112.5 million) and Reds first baseman Joey Votto (10 years, $225 million). Both deals, at first glance, look huge, particularly for extensions. But I think we’re seeing the combined impact of the new CBA’s obvious efforts to funnel more money to the big league payroll side, and of new/improved sources of revenue (e.g., TV deals). These deals, at this price level, is probably the new normal. Adjust expectations accordingly. As for the particular deals, the impacts are at once obvious (Votto stays in the division for a long time, Cain isn’t available for teams like the Cubs to bid on after this season), and hard to predict (does Cain being locked up make Matt Garza more expensive in trade? or less expensive, because he’s going to cost a whole lot to sign long term? are the Reds going to regret such a long, huge commitment to Votto? or was it necessary because of the Reds’ efforts to get a new TV deal and to keep fans happy?). By the way, that beautiful picture comes courtesy of The Father-in-Law on our Spring Training trip. Best guess? Votto was telling Rolen about his new contract.
  • Carlos Marmol has changed the grip on his fastball, which is allowing him to get some sink. The velocity on his fastball isn’t what it once was, so the more movement Marmol can get on it – and the more he can command it – the better. That way, he isn’t always relying exclusively on his slider (which will make his slider all the more devastating). Marmol had a rough early Spring, but has been better of late. I don’t really read too much into either half of the Spring – instead, I see a guy who lost some movement on his slider last year, lost velocity on his fastball last year, and lost confidence in his ability to throw the fastball for a strike without getting blasted last year. I need to see those things change, and I can only see that when the regular season rolls around.
  • Ian Stewart and Steve Clevenger will become tremendously less valuable assets on Thursday. They turn 27 and 26, respectively, that day. Too old. Dump ’em while they still have value. Today or tomorrow.
  • Dale Sveum isn’t into huge pump-up speeches, so he’s not really expecting to give one to the Cubs this week.
  • Marlon Byrd says there’s nothing like being a Chicago Cub. I still like that guy.
  • Kerry Wood says the Cubs are itching to get the season started. I still like that guy.
  • Baseball Nation previews the 2012 Cubs, and it sounds like many previews you’ve heard before.
  • 25 years ago today, the Cubs dumped seemingly washed up pitcher Dennis Eckersley on the A’s. Oops.
  • You have another day to win a pair of free tickets to the Cubs’ April 12 game against the Brewers (hopefully a nice crew of BN’ers will be there). Details here.
  • Stinky Pete

    “25 years ago today, the Cubs dumped seemingly washed up pitcher Dennis Eckersley on the A’s. Oops.”
    I believe they did in response to Al Campanis’ comments on Night Line the night before…

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I thought it was the same day?

  • CubFan Paul

    Votto’s extension starts in two years after his contract is up? Or is it 8years added to his current contract? Either way, he’ll be 38years old at the least at contracts end ..no thanks

    • hansman1982

      in 10 years, I think $22.5 a year for a 1st baseman is going to be Carlos Pena money. Either way, he becomes the Chipper Jones of the Reds – lots of value behind that.

      The guys on MLB Network this morning were talking about how overpaid Cain is – in the past 5ish years Cain is 4 games under .500 while Lincecum is 26ish over. And that, my friends, is about the only time that wins and losses matter for a starting pitcher these days, when you can compare them to a teammate over a stretch of time.

      • MichiganGoat

        If the Giants extend Timmy in the next to years they might just have to field a AAA since I’m sure Lincecum will expect to be the highest pitchers ever.

        • Ferrets bueller

          I wonder if they’re going to let Timmy walk, and extend bumgrarner instead.

          • T C

            It’s certainly possible. Timmy isn’t anywhere near the pitcher he once was, with a 91-92 fastball now instead of 94-95. And he’s already facing concerns over the longterm health of his arm, cause he said yesterday that he’s scrapping his slider because it puts too much stress on his arm. His frame just isn’t built to sustain a long pitching career, and I’m sure the giants have similar concerns

      • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

        “And that, my friends, is about the only time that wins and losses matter for a starting pitcher these days, when you can compare them to a teammate over a stretch of time.”

        I still don’t think they matter. If you go to only 3 years it’s Lincecum 13 over and Cain 9 over.
        And neither pitcher is the same guy they were back in 2007 and 2008. Cain is definitely better now, and Lincecum is the same but I bet you can make an argument he’s declined a tad.
        But I agree with him being overpaid. (Votto too).

        • hansman1982

          And that is why you do your own research before you blabber everywhere. Cain has been pretty good, 2.97 ERA over the past 3 years.

          I don’t think Votto is overpaid. 30 homers, .300/.400/.500 every year – those are solid numbers. That is certainly no worse than Fielder, although Fielder will give you better power numbers but a worse glove.

          • DocWimsey

            Votto is not overpaid now, and won’t be for a few years. The problem is that he’s a firstbaseman, and he cannot “age down” to some other position. And, good a hitter as he is now, he (probably) will not be this good a hitter towards the end of the contract. (If the NL has DHs by then, it will be less of an issue, obviously: he still [probably] will be above average.)

            This might be one advantage of signing good-hitting SS, 2B and CFers to long term contracts: they can “age down” to other positions. However, you then have to make sure that they are good hitters relative to league average, not CF or middle-infield average!

  • MichiganGoat

    These signings are pointing to the payrolls skyrocketing in the next few years. Soon a team will have 100M a year committed to 4/5 players. By next year Soriano will look like a steal 😉

    • Chris S

      Or he’ll think he deserves MORE money!!!

  • Chris S

    We should probably lock up Castro for 10 years/100m ASAP.

    • hansman1982

      nah, go whole hog and do 20/200

      • CubFan Paul

        I think $40M or less locks up Castro for 5-7yrs (now, before he adds 20 homers to another. 300 hitting season)

        • Andrew

          Castro’s not dumb, he knows that he’ll be worth a ton when he hits free agency, and he’ll be what like 25-27. no way he signs an extension until at least a couple years into arbitration. any extension he signs will be minimum 100 mil guaranteed and that would probably still be a steal.

          • CubFan Paul

            He’ll barely be 28/29 on a 6 year extension. He has 4 arbitration years (maybe 3) after this 2012 season, he’s not thinking about free agency. An extension now will guarantee him $20M-$30M for his arb years at the price of losing $10M or so on a couple free agent/club option years, that he can get back when he signs the blockbuster deal at age 28/29

            • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

              I think you need to look at the Justin Upton and Andrew McCutchen type contracts to see what Castro should get…

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                Cameron Maybin and Elvis Andrus, too. I agree.

                • CubFan Paul

                  Andrus yes, but not Maybin’s contract (he’s not as good as Castro)

                  & the 6yrs $51M for McCutchen&Upton is too much for Castro imo. McCutchen played a full 3yrs as a power&rbi guy before signing ..Upton did sign his extension after only 2 seasons but he also had 41 homers & easy projectable 30 homer power

                  The number to lock up Castro now before he adds another AllStar type season to his resume is somewhere in between Andrus’ 3yrs/$14M but much lower than $51M over six years

                  • hansman1982

                    I think it will be much closer to the $51M than you let on there. McCutchen is 3 years older than Castro and as such, his power should be there. I could see a 6 year $42M deal getting it done but probably closer to 6/48

                    Castro giving up a few dollars but also potentially becoming a free agent in the middle of his peak years.

  • Chris J.

    The Al Campanis Nightline appearance came a few days later. It was on April 6, 1987.

  • Ferrets bueller

    The Adrian Gonzales contract has always looked awesome, but as more and more of these get signed….it’s starting to look amazing.

    • hansman1982

      ya, he has to be pretty ticked off he left $75M on the table

      • hardtop

        and hes the best of the bunch in my opinion. (obvioulsy pujols is amazing, but his at his age, the deal is inexplicable)

  • MelB

    Ian and Steve’s birthdays are tomorrow (4/5) so the are not baseball old yet 😉

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      AHH! Correction imminent!

      • DocWimsey

        Like everyone here, part of me will always wish that I could have been a big leaguer. However, at 39, people describe Chipper Jones as if he’s a wizened old man. When I was 39, I got an award for being an outstanding *young* researcher. I think that I like my “middle age” coming in my late 40’s rather than my late 20’s, thanks!

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Believe me, I want to punch myself in the face every time I refer to a player in his late 20s as “older.”

          (The Stewart/Clevenger bit was obviously tongue-in-cheek.)

  • MichCubFan

    Haha Brett, you said you like guys…

  • rcleven


    Will see if Boston goes back to Oakland and asks for more compensation?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett


  • Ivy Walls

    Reading the constant convenient and even “relished” predictions be baseball people about the Cubs I wonder if a Gomer Pyle; SURPRISE, SURPRISE, SURPRISE might be in order, maybe served with some special baseball “mustard”. I recalled that SD, SF and AZ had similar prognostications and then September rolled around suddenly the world said HOW?

    Maybe it just is I have competed in my youth and know how much difference great coaching and preparation has when previous your coaching corps simply sucked. It is like a pin ball machine as players come prepared and compete in preparation instead of mailing it in. Reading the article quoting Woody about defense and then seeing what Borzy is doing with the catching corps and how McKay is taking on the Cubs piss poor baserunning and defense positioning only good things will result. The other big deal was Sveum a former SS protege taking Castro under his personal project and working on his defense and overall approach to the game. Finally yesterday’s revelation about using technology and statistics regarding situational hitting….

    Now the team must stay healthy and actually perform but I think this might be a surprising year. Can this all be served with a tomato, pickle and some onions as well?

    • MaxM1908

      I agree, Ivy Walls. I’ve been saying it on here quite a bit. I don’t expect them to make the playoffs, but I expect them to exceed current expectations. Why? For the same reasons you stated above. The management of this team is different from years past, and I think that’s worth at least 5 wins above what people are expecting. I also think we have guys like Barney and LaHair, who people write off, who could make a major impact on the team. Plus if Soriano, Soto, and Stewart have better than average seasons, our lineup is not as woeful as people expect. But most importantly, I think we have a solid pitching staff (recognizing question marks in the bullpen). I’ll say it again: 75-80 wins.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        A related side question: if you *knew* the Cubs, trying their hardest and performing their best, could win only 80 games this year, would you rather they did that, or would you rather they won, like, 50 games, and were a nightmarish pile of awful?

        • Cubbie Blues

          If they win 80 games at least you know there is something to build around. But, if they were the Astros, and only won 50 games, do you really want to build around any part of a team like that? I think I know where your going with your premise though. You would be drafting number one and have more money available in the new CBA for signing the drafted players.

        • WGNstatic

          Here is the catch on that question.

          It is easy to say that a 50 win team is actually a better outcome than an 80 win team with the improved drafting position. That is true.

          That said, for the Cubs to win 80 or more games will require that a number of players who have really not performed in the past will break out. Guys like Samardzja, Stewart, and Volstad are the prime candidates. Other guys like LaHair, Soto, Barney, Soriano, Byrd, Marmol (well, I guess everyone really) would certainly improve their value with big season, whether of the break out or bounce back variety.

          So, if the Cubs win 81 games this year, I am pretty sure that we will be feeling pretty good about a handful of positions that we have some pretty big question marks at this point.

          In other words, a 50 win team would be fine in that it would bring a nice draft pick, possibly a real future superstar. That said, I will take some certainty from guys like Shark, Volstad, Stewart, etc heading into 2013.

          • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

            I think that’s an excellent point (and, for what it’s worth, I have no preconceived answer to the question – I merely wanted to ask…).

        • MaxM1908

          I don’t think I’d ever enjoy seeing them be nightmarishly awful. I understand there are collateral benefits to placing at the bottom, but I think we have the money and resources to rebuild without that kind of embarrassment. I’d prefer to see a culture of winning institutionalized regardless of the talent limitations. I think that’s better for the long-term health of the organization. If they lose, and lose bad, how many guys with potential lose faith? How does it affect a rising star like Castro? Does he start thinking he’s better off somewhere else? Maybe he requests to be traded from the laughingstock of a team. Hope goes a lot further than hopelessness. I don’t like the idea of shooting for the bottom for some draft positions and money.

        • DocWimsey

          I would be interested to see what Theo & Jed would do with early draft picks. However, that could be accomplished with 70 wins!

        • Fishin Phil

          You always try to win as many games as possible. If you aren’t trying every single day, you should get out of the league.

        • Ivy Walls

          Nuts, as I said a HOF coach told me simply, “the ONLY thing a team learns from losing is how to lose.” Winning is infectious as is losing. Plus in MLB winning breeds value, how much is Garza, LaHair, Soto and possibly (hope against hope) Soriano if the team is surprisingly competitive than if they plummet to Astroland? Forget the draft choice positions, how many players make to the ML’s who were not number one draft picks—-show me development and show me capability and I will show you a good team.

          • rcleven

            Well said.

      • DocWimsey

        “I’ll say it again: 75-80 wins.”

        On that note, ESPN summarized their 30 “over/under” polls, where people voted on whether Arizona … Washington would finish with more or fewer wins than ZIPs projects. For 25 of 30 teams, the fans said that ZIPs underestimated the wins! (The Cubs were one of 5 for whom the majority said “fewer,” with a projection of 71.5 wins) Of course, approximately half the teams will win more games and approximately half will win fewer.

        It will be interesting to see if the “pessimist” fans (Cubs, Mets, Astros, O’s and Rockies) are actually “realist” fans, or whether fans basically are right about half the time.

  • RoughRiider

    “25 years ago today, the Cubs dumped seemingly washed up pitcher Dennis Eckersley on the A’s. Oops.”
    It wasn’t that he was washed up, he needed to dry out. He probably wasn’t going to do it unless something drastic happened like getting traded for a non-prospect outfielder. The Cubs did themselves and him a huge favor.

  • Nice

    Votto is a great player but that extension is just stupid, not as bad as the Prince contract but close. Why not have him motivated thru next year and if he leaves so what, as he’ll be 30…

  • NL_Cubs

    On Opening Day we get Bill Murray throwing out the first pitch (not a bad choice) and Wayne Messmer signing the National Anthem. Wayne Messmer?

    Come on Cubs, you can’t do better than Wayne Messmer, who we have to endure during most of the regular season as it is? How much you wanna bet he brings his wife along and they sing a duet?

    Even a local American Idol contestant would have been more entertaining to help fuel the Opening Day festivities!   How about Jim Cornelison for a day?

    Wayne Messmer?  I mean come on.  Geez !

    • Smitty

      I must disagree with you. Messmer does a great rendition of the National Anthem.