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Rain was the only thing keeping the imploding Yankees from an ALCS sweep – their Game Four against the Tigers was postponed to today thanks to a deluge.

  • The Cardinals/Giants game, however, was not postponed, just delayed by three-ish hours. It didn’t matter, as the Cardinals went into the delay with a 2-1 lead, and won the game 3-1. That gives them a 2-1 lead in the NLCS, though they did lose Carlos Beltran to a knee strain early in the game. He’s day-to-day, which means that he’ll not only play in Game Four, but he’ll hit seven homers and record the save.
  • The Cubs have a number of players taking part in Winter League baseball, which leagues opened up within the last week, and will play through the end of December.  Among the Cubs on those rosters – in the Mexican Pacific League: Alfredo Amezaga (Obregon), Esmailin Caridad (Obregon), Greg Rohan (Mazatlan), and third base prospect Christian Villanueva (Obregon); in the Dominican Winter League: shortstop prospect Arismendy Alcantara (Licey), Jeffry Antigua (Toros de Este), Jairo Ascencio (Este), Diory Hernandez (Este), and Junior Lake (Oriente), who needed more at bats on the year; in the Venezuelan Winter League: Juan Apodaca (Zulia), Eduardo Figueroa (Caribes de Anzoategui), Yoanner Negrin (Caracas), Loiger Padron (Caracas), possible 2013 third baseman Luis Valbuena (Lara), and Ty Wright (Aragua). The level of competition varies pretty wildly in these leagues, but, given the presence of a number of quality minor league veterans, I think it’s fair to say that the leagues are approximately the equivalent of somewhere between AA and AAA. Tony Camapana and Miguel Socolovich are also expected to play in the VWL at some point this offseason.
  • Paul Sullivan looks at the Cubs’ pitching situation in 2012 and next year, and it’s a reminder of just what an uphill climb the Cubs face. He also shockingly notes that the Cubs’ team ERA – 4.51 – was 24th in baseball. Seriously? It was that good?
  • Right field also gets a look, with the focus on Bryan LaHair’s inability to grab that spot in the brief shot he was given.
  • Doug Padilla sets his sights on left field, with well-deserved praise for Alfonso Soriano.
  • Jim Callis takes an early look at each team’s bonus pool for the 2013 Draft (recall, the “bonus pool” is the amount of money a team is given to sign its picks in the first 10 rounds, over which amount you’d incur certain penalties). The Cubs, as you’d expect, come in at number two, with a pool just over $9.8 million. The Astros are at the top with about $10.9 million, and the Rockies are third with about $9.5 million. From there, the drop-off is stark, with the Twins having just $7.7 million (though, thanks to competitive balance picks, there are teams a little way down that have more than $8 million to use (because they have more picks)). These numbers are based on the 2012 recommendations, however, so they’re likely to all be slightly higher in 2013. Further, the numbers can change as teams sign free agents who were made a qualifying offer (thus costing their new team a first rounder (or a second rounder, if the team drafts in the first 10 picks)). The upshot of all of this is what we already knew to be true: the Cubs’ crappy 2012 record offers some upside, and the substantial bonus pool is a major part of that.
  • Fastball

    Wonder why LaHair isn’t showing up in a Winter League?
    How much money do we have in the IFA pool?
    I hope there is pitching coming out this year in the draft which can move to the bigs in a years time. We desperately need at least one pitcher who is fast track capable. I hope we sign FA’s smartly and do not affect our draft picks in the 1st few rounds.

    The ERA for 2012 was greatly affected by Dempster and Maholm. There low ERA’s helped where we ranked. Without there stats we would have probably been dead last.

    Are there any players who have defected from Cuba that are looking for MLB contracts that could be impact players either INF, OF or pitching?

    It would be nice to have something to look forward too with regard to IFA’s this off season.

    • Kyle

      Next year’s IFA pools haven’t been set yet. They announced with the new CBA that it would be descending in reverse order of record, but they never got any more detailed than that.

    • ssckelley

      That is a good question. Before the All Star break LaHair lost his timing, he was behind on fastballs and whiffing through breaking pitches. The only way you get that back is with consistent at bats, something he never got once Rizzo got called up. One would think he would play in a winter league somewhere just to work on his timing and work on playing the outfield.

      • Kubphan82

        Please don’t take this the weong way…

        Didn’t LaHair play for almost 2 years straight?

        I know he played a FULL year last year including winter league, etc, and then his FIRST full MLB season… Even though he didn’t get much time since Rizzo…

        I think he deserves some time off… Maybe that’ll help too…

  • BD

    “possible 2013 third baseman Luis Valbuena ”

    This nugget makes my heart hurt.

    • CubFan Paul

      Me too. Valbuena my ass. God no. Valbuena is a utility player, Sveum and Theo&Co know that. No way they go into the season with him #1 on the depth chart.

      • When the Music’s Over

        Agree. All of this Valbuena positive spin from the front office can’t be what it seems. The math just isn’t there. LaHair is a better hitter, yet the front office is ready to abandon him. The messages have little consistency.

  • fortyonenorth

    Brett,

    Can you provide a brief remedial lesson on how FA signings can affect ball clubs. For example, if we sign any FA who was made a qualifying offer do we lose a draft pick – or does this just apply to top-tier FAs?

    • JB88

      It applies to any FA to whom you make a qualifiying offer that is higher than the average of the top 125 players in the game (IIRC around $13.5 MM next season). If that player rejects that offer and is signed by another team, then that team will owe you its first round pick, if it is selecting outside the top 10, or its second round pick if it is selecting within the top 10.

      I don’t know how this system works if a team signs multiple QO FAs though.

      • bbmoney

        I think the comp pick a team losing the FA receives is now a pick right after/at the end of the 1st round. Not the signing team’s pick. I believe that was changed by the new CBA.

        might be what JR is saying, but didn’t think it was clear.

        As JR states, since we’re in the top 10, if we sign a qualifying FA, we wouldn’t lose our 1st round pick, but instead we’d lose our second round pick.

        • bbmoney

          I see Brett says this below now.

  • Fastball

    I read in an article that Sveum told him he needed to go play Winterball and get himself back on track if he wanted a shot on next years team. That’s what shocked me to see he wasn’t playing on a roster somewhere.

    Wow to the IFA pool. How does a GM plan for that with no direction from the league.

    We need a couple more Cubans to defect. Another Soler or Cespedes and a pitcher and we sign them all this time.

    • Cryinmybluecoolaid

      Defections might be a thing of the past come January 14. Cuba is lifting travel restrictions. How does this affect Cuban baseball players who wants to come here to play?

      http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/17/uk-cuba-reform-immigration-idUSLNE89F01T20121017

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Hmm. Very interesting. Not sure how they’ll treat baseball players coming to the States (knowing full well that they’re leaving Cuba).

      • hansman1982

        The problem is the US will probably still have restrictions on Cuban citizens signing contracts with American companies. While the defections won’t be AS life threatening anymore; they will still need to defect.

  • Fastball

    Great question 41North

  • Fastball

    okay so if we stay under that $13M ish figure we can sign FA’s all day without giving up a pick? If that’s the case we should have envelopes full of cash and team rep’s standing on door steps ready to deliver offers as soon as they are able. There are plenty of players we can sign for under $13M a year. I will have to put together my shopping list.

    • JB88

      It doesn’t work that way. A team signing the FA doesn’t have to pay above that $13.5 MM average. The player merely needs to reject the one-year qualifying offer from his original team and another team has to sign that player.

    • hansman1982

      It isn’t our offer that determines the draft pick it is the other team.

      For example, had Dempster not been traded the Cubs could have offered him a 1 year deal for $13M. If Dempster declined this offer then he would be considered a “Type-A” free agent and we would get a draft pick from the signing team when he signs.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Actually, the compensatory picks are now all at the end of the first round. The signing team loses its pick, but that specific pick doesn’t go to the old team. Just a generic compensatory pick at the end of the round.

        • hansman1982

          I figured I was off on them getting that specific pick. Do you know if the order of the picks is still determined by when the player signs or is it in order of the pick lost? i.e. if the Cubs sign a “Qualified FA” the team losing the player gets the 2nd highest pick in the Compensatory Pick Round.

  • Rizzo 44

    How about this deal guys Marmaol and all his 9.8M salary to the Angels for Peter Bourjos.

    • bbmoney

      I’d be all for that. I’d be surprised if the Angels were, but you never know.

    • Mick

      I like the deal but I doubt DiPoto would let Bourjos go for just Marmol. Another route to take which would really pique the Angels’ interest is a team willing to take on Vernon Wells’ contract. Also, the Angels could use a couple of utility infielders since Aybar and Izturis are both free agents and Callaspo is in his 3rd year of arbitration. What about Marmol, Barney, and Vitters for Bourjos, Maronde, and Wells?

      • Rizzo 44

        No to Wells. Cubs don’t need aother player like that. Marmaol showed he was better. If they resign Hunter they don’t have a spot for Wells. So lets make a deal with Vitters and Marmaol and 8M of his salary for Bourjos and I feel like that’s a fair trade.

        • Zogie

          Marmol, cash, vitters, and PTBNL for bourjos and callaspo. I really like Callaspo at 3rd base. A good fill in guy and he would be available. I’m not big on Bourjos. He shows little power and strikes out a ton.

        • Mick

          I still don’t think Marmol and Vitters would get DiPoto to bite, he may already have better offers for Bourjos. I was reading an offseason preview for the Angels and they were talking about possibly getting Drew Storen for Bourjos. Storen > Marmol and Vitters. The thing that may sway the tide in our favor is if we offer our payroll flexibility and take on Wells. By taking Wells though I think the Cubs could ask for a decent prospect too and Maronde fits exactly what our organization needs, a left-handed SP who could either start at AAA or with the big-league club. Wells would basically just replace Soriano in LF once we trade him or start in CF if we don’t.

          Here are my 5 trades for this off-season:

          Trade 1:
          Soriano, $28M, and Campana to the Braves for Randall Delgado

          Trade 2:
          Marmol, Barney, and Vitters to the Angels for Wells, Bourjos, and Maronde

          Trade 3:
          Garza to the Rangers for Olt–straight up, how’s that for risk?

          Trade 4:
          DeJesus to the Giants for Zito and Surkamp

          Trade 5:
          Bryan LaHair to the Rays for Parker Markel

          • Rizzo 44

            I like all the Trades other than one with Wells. I hope the Cubs find away to get Chase Headley this winter. That would be my fist goal as GM. SP would be my next goal since we don’t have much that can win and number 3 I want a CF that has speed can leadoff and play Gold Glove D. If Theo can do those I will be happy. I would tade anyone on the Roster other than Castro, Rizzo, Shark, Russell, Baez, Vizcaino, Soler, Almora and Castillo.

            • Cubbie Blues

              Headly isn’t going anywhere (everyone tried at the deadline). As far as CF, looks like your saying you want Borne from 5 years ago. That’s going to cost a bit. Also, he will have to have invented near-c propulsion a few years before that so he had enough time to catch up to us.

              • Rizzo 44

                Headley can tell the Padres he won’t sign with them long term then I bet he would be traded. A leadoff CF is what the Cubs need. Speed and D. SP is all over the place, but there are a few I like. Peavy, Sanchez, Liriano, Santana. I also would like to see the Cubs make a play for David Price and/or James Shields. I was on the Hamilton kick for sometime, but I think we have other needs. I would keep Soriano until the deadline unless we get a great deal this winter. When Garza is healthy I say trade him ASAP.

                • DocPeterWimsey

                  Headley can tell the Padres he won’t sign with them long term then I bet he would be traded.

                  The fact that the Pads did not trade Headley last winter or this summer when approximately 29 other teams were sniffing at their door tells us that they think that they can resign him. Obviously, Headley has not told them that he’s going to test free agent waters, or he would be traded by now.

                  Speed and D

                  …. are largely irrelenat for a good leadoff batter. Start with OBP. And then stop.

                  I also would like to see the Cubs make a play for David Price and/or James Shields.
                  Those two (and especially Price) will cost the Cubs more than one of the guys on your “do not trade” list in your prior post!

  • Max

    Lake hit a home run last night and went 2-5 and 3RBI

    • AB

      But was his shirt untucked??

  • Fastball

    Which one of our Little League pitchers moves into the closer role if we make that deal?

    Bourjos would be a great pick up for us.

  • Fastball

    Off topic a bit. What about Eric Chavez to play 3b for the Cubs for a few years. He only made $900K for the Yankee’s. I think AROD will still be the 3B in NY due to his contract. I suppose the Yankee’s could resign him as their 3B if AROD moves to the DH. I just don’t see that happening. I think AROD gets the message and finds a way to re-dedicate himself to his role as 3B in NY and Chavez will want to move on somewhere he can play everyday.

    • ssckelley

      If his back problems are behind him then it would make sense. He is the only free agent at 3rd that does not make my stomach churn. But do not be fooled into thinking he can be signed for a million, his contract with the Yankees called for an extra 3 million based on plate appearances. If he is healthy then he will command a nice chunk of change. I do not think you can count on him for 150+ games but perhaps a nice platoon partner for Vitters and, perhaps, mentor?

    • Patrick G

      I love Chavez, but not for te Cubs. He is a good bench player at best this late in his career. What about this scenario though(and I’m just talking out of my ass so don’t rip me):

      If the Cubs can’t get any good offers for Soriano, eat all of Sorianos contract and trade to Yankees for Arod and Yanks eat his contract. We need a 3B, yanks are getting rid of Swisher and could use an OF/ DH. There was minor talks about Heath Bell for Arod, which were probably not true, but living in NY, everyone hates Arod for sucking in the playoffs and pulling that BS flirting w fans during the game. I think they won’t play him anymore because of that.

      Again this is all just crazy talk, but he is still good defensively and better than any 3B we have. If the Yankees eat all his contract, we get him for 5 years and 4 not paying anything since Soriano is up after this year. And if he sucks, we can cut him at no loss. Thoughts?

      • ssckelley

        No way, ARod is owed over 100 million plus gets bonuses for hitting milestone home runs that might start kicking in next season. At least with Soriano you see the light at the end of the tunnel as his contract ends after 2014.

        Confusing that you dismiss Chavez, who is 35 and a free agent, but turn around and suggest ARod, who is 37 and under contract until 2018. Statistically Chavez had a better season in limited playing time and is every bit as good as ARod defensively. Keep in mind the Cubs only need to hold down the position until Baez is ready.

        • Patrick G

          I shot down Chavez cause he’s not a good a hitter as Arod, I watch every Yankee game. Chavez would be an ok fill in for a year or two but I was saying IF the Yankees eat his entire contract, which was apparently discussed if he was traded
          To the marlins(although it was a rumor). It was just a hypothetical scenario.

          • ssckelley

            Over their career, yes, ARod was a much better hitter. But just looking at 2012 Chavez was better statistically.

            But I think we are arguing a mute point anyway, I doubt Chavez would ever come to a rebuilding Chicago and no way will we ever see ARod in a Cubs uniform.

  • Fastball

    FA pitching. How much will the Cubs spend on a guy? Is Kuroda going to be available? I think the Yankee’s get him re-upped since they are weak in SP and don’t have much coming from their system. Annibel Sanchez has put himself in a position to rake the $$ with his performances this off season. Are these guys a little too rich for the Cubs right now. A Sanchez doesn’t fall out of the sky very often. Maybe we should tie him up on a nice contract. There may not be quality pitching available in a year or two. Teams seem to be signing their pitching to long term deals before the reach the market these days.

  • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

    Eh hem. Nudge. Wink.

  • Cheryl

    Didn’t Sveum also say that if LaHair played winter ball it wouldn’t make much difference that at bats would be hard to come by? He does need to get his timing back but he also may be looking elsewhere.The best bet for him would be if he did go elsewhere.

  • mysterious4th

    I’ve been saying we need to sign anibal sanchez for some time. I think shawn marcum would be a good back end guy.
    If we trade marmol I think our closer should be determined by the situation.
    I wonder if the cubs have had any thoughts at trying LaHair at 3B. We could platoon him with a right hander. Maybe if they throw that bait to him he will nibble and bust his tail in the offseason.
    Rotation that had Garza, Shark, Sanchez, Marcum, and maybe T. Wood or pull off a trade of barney (I think they need a SS and that’s Barney’s original spot but moved for Castro)and another player for Delgado or Minor from the Braves

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