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Another busy day during the hot stove season. I love it.

You may recall that two weeks ago, the Chicago Cubs hosted free agent Japanese pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa in Chicago, presumably because they were interested in signing the 32-year-old reliever. He was on something of a tour of the States at that time, and visited with a variety of teams.

Well, according to L.A. Times writer Mike DiGiovanna, Fujikawa must have liked what he saw. Per DiGiovanna: “Word out of Japan is the reliever Kyuji Fujikawa prefers to pitch for Angels or Cubs but hasn’t ruled out Diamondbacks.”

Japanese players frequently prefer to play on the West Coast for proximity reasons, so the Cubs’ inclusion is not merely one of convenience. Like I said, he must have liked what the Cubs had to say.

Perhaps it is because, as DiGiovanna adds, “Cubs could offer Fujikawa closing job but probably won’t contend. Kyuji wouldn’t close for Angels but would be on probable contender.”

Strictly-speaking, Fujikawa wouldn’t come to the Cubs as the closer – that job currently (if nominally) belongs to Carlos Marmol, who remains under contract through 2013 for $9.8 million. But, as we saw a few weeks ago in the failed Dan Haren trade, the Cubs are plenty willing to move Marmol, and remain likely to do so at some point this offseason. From there, Fujikawa would be an obvious choice to fill the closer void.

While we wait on more information about Fujikawa’s decision, you may want to peruse the original post on the Cubs’ pursuit, which will refresh your memory on Fujikawa’s background and value. A selection:

Fujikawa, 32, throws in the mid-90s and has been putting up stupid good numbers in the NPB for a decade now. Heck, he hasn’t had an ERA over 2.01 since 2004 (when it was, gasp, 2.61). His K-rate is typically in the 12 per 9 range, with a walk rate of about 2.3 per 9. Really the only negative to which you could point is the fact that his innings pitched have declined of late, from 83 in 2007 to 57.2 in 2009 to 51 in 2011 to 47.2 last year.

At first blush, Fujikawa seems like an odd target for a team like the Cubs. Top-line relievers tend to be one of the last pieces you add to a competitive team, not one of the first pieces you add to a rebuilding club. At 32, he’s not likely to be a major component of the next great Cubs team.

On the other hand, the international market remains an area where teams with extra cash can try and find undervalued assets, so perhaps that’s the most appropriate lens through which view the pursuit of a player like Fujikawa.

  • #1lahairfan

    If he was traded with his ERA in the high 2.00 range with maybe 30 saves , what would we get back?

  • Lovable idiots

    Why would the Cubs sign him ? Does not his age goes against the rebuild notion of younger stronger players for the Cubs. Would the Cubs sign him just to flip him? smells like a Republican lie.

    • David

      Look at it this way. If the Cubs sign him, they can, theoretically, trade Marmol for something useful, and make Fujikawa closer. I’ve never seen the guy pitch, but with the numbers he’s put up in Japan, and with a mid-90’s FB, he’d probably do at least as well as Marmol would.

      I’m guessing that Fujikawa would get a deal for more than one year, but for less/yr than the 9+M that Marmol would get this year.

      Now, Fujikawa may be significantly better than Marmol, who knows? Obviously, he could also be a train wreck, but with his walk numbers, at least he’d be a different kind of train wreck!

      Basically, they should be able to replace Marmol’s production with someone cheaper, and get something for Marmol. Why not?

      • Lovable idiots

        I agree – one team i think the Cubs can unload Marmol is to Detroit. I would ask for their 3b number 1 prospect. ( the name escapes me) straight up ,maybe even let them have Zych or any non top 10 pitching prospect the cubs own.

        • MaxM1908

          If you offered Marmol for Nick Castellanos, straight up, you would get nowhere fast. We’ll be lucky to mediocre prospect for Marmol, especially if we don’t eat any of his salary.

        • Wester

          Exactly the kind of post someone named lovable idiots would post.

        • Kubphan82

          Arizona might be able to get Castellanos in a trade if Upton is the return. Tigers weren’t listening for rental players at the trade deadline… They won’t consider Garza when healthy for a half season either.

        • Brandon – AA Correspondent

          Tony Zych is a beast; and including him in a trade would be very short sided and idiotic at this point.

          • Can’t think of a cool name

            Although the Tigers would laugh at the Cubs and hang up the phone, I’d be jumping for joy to get Castellanos for Marmol and Zych.

          • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

            Zych is a relief pitcher.
            I don’t care how ‘beastly’ he is, a RP isn’t worth all that much and Casteallanos is worth about 3 Zych’s.

  • King Jeff

    I’m surprised, but I’d like to see the Cubs add as many good bullpen guys as they can get. If he’s not asking for astronomical dollars, I think he would be a great signing on anything up to a 4 year deal.

  • cubchymyst

    I like the addition of bullpen arms, but I figured the closer job, after Marmol is gone, would go to someone likely to be traded so that they could build up value. If he is signed it definitely shows that Theo and Jed think the Cubs are close to contending.

  • JK

    Are the cubs in on either of the 2 Cuban free agents – Aledmys Diaz or Dariel Alvarez?

    • King Jeff

      There probably won’t be any news on those guys until January at the earliest. They both have to establish residence, and I think one of them isn’t old enough to avoid the international free agent limits until January.

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Indeed, think of how long it took the Cespedes and (especially!) Soler sagas to unravel last winter (spring… summer…). Hopefully we’ll get a couple of iconic shots of the two guys, or maybe better yet, one classic “in action” baseball card shot, and one “bigfoot” quality shot.

        (The posts about how much some people can see about their characters in their eyes will be good value, too! ;-))

        • DarthHater

          Ahh, the eye-glint of scrappiness!

      • cubchymyst

        I read that both a free agents due to having at least 3 years of experience in a professional league. So neither will count against the international budget.

        • King Jeff

          I think that they have to be at least 23 years old.

          • cubchymyst

            Your right about the 23 years, but the younger player turns 23 soon. This is from the original MLB article:

            Cuban players that are at least 23 years old and have played at least three seasons in a Cuban professional league are not subject to the new international signing guidelines established by the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Diaz, who made his professional debut in 2007 for Villa Clara in Serie Nacional, the country’s top league, will turn 23 on Jan. 8 and is not expected to sign before his birthday..

            • King Jeff

              Nice, thanks for the clarification. I still think there will probably be delays as they try to establish residency, it’s a fairly common theme among Cuban defectors. Like Doc said, I look forward to all the grainy photos and “first hand witnesses” to the talents of these two before we get any kind of signing news.

  • Justin

    Ahhhh just try it him out!!! Just flip bad contracts with Marmol and someone else and call it good. Marmol is so unreliable so a change would be nice rather then watching Marmol come in and walk the bases loaded and give up a game winning hit or walk like usual.

    • Scotti

      Marmol was freakishly good after the All-Star break last year:

      1.52 ERA, 2 W, 1 L, 12 S, 13 SVO, 30 G, 29.2 IP, 20 H, 1 HR, 17 BB, 39 K, .194 BAA

      Those numbers, including the BB/9 numbers, are in line with his four-year string as a top reliever. His resurgence coincided with his fastball resurgence. The only reason to move Marmol this year is that he would be a wasted top closer if he continues his second-half dominance.

      • MichiganGoat

        It’s the year and half before that that concerns teams if he continues like this I see him as a great deadline move, but the FO obviously wants to move him.

  • Andrewmoore4isu

    We need guys like this now that way we can keep upgrading in the next few years. You don’t go from a 60 win team to a 90 win team in one year. In order to get 70-75 wins next year and 80-90 wins the year after that we need to sign attractive free agents now while our prospects grow.

  • David

    So the idea is to complain when no FA’s are signed, then complain if they even consider signing one?

    • Andrewmoore4isu

      Yes

    • David

      I swear this was in response to someone…

      • MichiganGoat

        You replied to a troll that was deleted

        • RoughRiider

          If only Mother Goose had known you could delete Trolls. Does that apply to Ogres too ?

    • DarthHater

      Yes. The idea is to complain. :-D

  • Brad

    @Brett Mlbtraderumors is saying the royals are calling “everyone” in attempt to trade Chen and Hochevar. I’m thinking this might be due to them possibly landing a big sp? Sanchez, Lohse, Nolasco, Garza? What are your thoughts?

    • calicubsfan007

      @Brad: I know I am not Brett, but I just wanted to add that they are open to trading Myers for a good-great pitcher. Personally, I would love for us to knock on that door first before we pursue their pitchers.

    • MichiganGoat

      I don’t see how Garza would excite them unless 1-he shows he is healthy and 2-agrees to an extension before the finalize the trade.

      • MaxM1908

        Even with a Garza extension as part of the deal, I would still think the Cubs have to put up significant prospects to get their attention. I don’t think KC just hands over Myers for Garza. I think we have two send two top tens or one top five prospect along with Garza. Even then…it may be tough to get a deal done.

        • MichiganGoat

          I agree

        • calicubsfan007

          @Max: You are right. I just like to imagine us getting a “can’t miss” prospect like Myers.

          • MichiganGoat

            Cali i’m with you it would be great if we could put something together to get Myers but it just isn’t likely, I kinda think that KC is just testing waters to see what is available if they want to move him.

            • calicubsfan007

              @MG: I don’t know, it is possible that this trend of overvaluing pitchers in trades could benefit us. I mean, look at what teams gave up for mediocre pitchers at the deadline. This could work for us.

              • MichiganGoat

                yes it could and we hope it will but it still won’t bring us a talent like Myers or Stanton for example. These are premier players and will require more than most teams are willing to give and then even if a team is willing to give away everything the team may still decide to keep the player.

                • calicubsfan007

                  @MG: Hear me out: The Royals picked up Volstad on waivers. I am not sure that they are exactly the shrewdest front office in baseball. I think we might be able to get Myers for cheaper than we all think. I am not saying trade Jackson for Myers kind of cheap, I mean that I don’t think that we would have to give up the farm for Myers. (I am not saying that Jackson sucks btw, I am simply saying that his trade value is far lower than Myers right now) The Royals gave up their leverage when they were said to be shopping around Myers for Lester and Shields. If they were said to be shopping Myers for (hypothetical, I know he is a free agent) Greinke, then I would say that they have the leverage. But when you are selling a top 5 overall prospect to a guy with a down year, it takes away the leverage. I agree with you on Stanton though.

                  • MichiganGoat

                    And I believe they cut Volstad

                    • calicubsfan007

                      @MG: You are right about that. My bad. I didn’t hear about that. I just looked it up. I still believe that the Royals sacrificed their leverage with Myers though.

                  • MaxM1908

                    “The Royals picked up Volstad on waivers. I am not sure that they are exactly the shrewdest front office in baseball.”

                    Made me laugh out loud. Well done.

                    • calicubsfan007

                      @Max: Thanks. Tip your waitresses. (=

                    • Drew7

                      Wait…are “Max” and “Norm” the same guy?

  • mudge

    Can’t complain about improving the bullpen.

  • calicubsfan007

    I would love to trade Marmol for a good 3b prospect, but I bet that it wouldn’t be straight up. We would probably have to give up a top 15 to even get the discussions started. Would that be enough?

  • Brad

    It’s nice to know we have the luxury of keeping garza until he is healthy and his stock will soar when he is and come the trade deadline every team will know garza is available and will compete to get him. So either way I am happy.

  • calicubsfan007

    Whoa, were someone’s comments on here removed? I could have sworn that there were more on here 5 min ago.

    • MichiganGoat

      Major troll just ignore them it will be back and it will be banned again, just don’t reply or mention it just go about your business.

  • cRAaZYHORSE

    goat police = middle finger salute

    • MichiganGoat

      For example – IGNORED

      • Carew

        Hey MG, I think it gets them all hot and bothered when you comment “IGNORED”.
        I don’t intend to be mean, I’m just suggesting maybe for you to not even comment on it.

        I would like to add, as a sign that I’m on your side, that I really like your input on all these articles.

        • MichiganGoat

          You are correct and I’ve avoided the leader troll, thanks for the input and support

          • calicubsfan007

            @MG: I got your back hombre (=. It might not seem like I am doing much, but that is only because I don’t want to start WW3 and get banned. I agree with Carew, don’t even comment to these guys.

            • MichiganGoat

              Thx bro

  • steve

    I’d go to KC with this as an offer, Garza, Marmol, Shark, Jackson, Vitters, cash and another decent prospect for Myers, Moustakas, Collins, and Hochevar. I know its highly unlikely to be accepted, but the Royals fan base is tired of losing, the team’s looking for good pitching and we’re looking to add young talent to grow with. In Garza and Shark, along with Guthrie the Royals talent in the rotation would be much improved. Marmol gives them another closing option since Soria wasn’t brought back. Jackson gives them another young OF with speed and power to develop, Vitter could get a shot there, or maybe be used as a DH if he adjusts as he has in the past.

    We get a good young power bat in Myers and a developing 3B in Moustakas to add to our young position players, Rizzo, Castro, and possibly Barney and Castillo. Hochevar would get a spot in the rotation, in a better situation for him in the national league, maybe show enough to be flipped to a contender. Collins would give us a young lefty in the pen with ability to maybe close in the near future.

    I honestly know they’d never do this deal, however i’d love to see a lineup with Castro, Rizzo, Myers, Moustakas, and Castillo next year. on the serious side though I’d certainly see if we could move Garza to them and maybe pry Moustakas away.

    • Brad

      Garza and shark are to much, way to much. Sub shark for someone else. We have to hold on to him. We have no sp prospects. If we are serious in competing we can’t give away our top 2 starters

  • Coolbeans

    How much money do the cubs have to spend on free agents this year?

  • MaxM1908

    Does anyone think there is anything to this speculation that Vitters may have been pulled from the Winter League because a trade is pending? I have a hard time believing Caracas just drops him because he goes 0-7 in the first two games. It does, however, make sense to me that if a trade was close, the Front Office pulls him back to Chicago for a medical or something similar. Anybody with any thoughts on this?

    • DarthHater

      I’m with you. It only makes sense if something is going on…

    • MichiganGoat

      Many of us have thought the same thing but I think we would have heard something by now if a trade was close.

      • calicubsfan007

        @MG: The less we hear about a trade, the better. We haven’t has the best track record when it comes to trades being announced really early. Stupid reporters.

        • calicubsfan007

          Sorry, i meant “had” instead of “has”

        • MaxM1908

          I could not agree more. After these past six months, I won’t believe a trade rumor unless a player is on a plane to the other destination (or has changed their Twit Pic).

          • http://wavesoftalent.webs.com tim

            Until posted on mlb’s site.

      • DarthHater

        I don’t think that’s necessarily true, Goat. Maybe Josh has to travel back to the US from Venezuela, meet with his agent, report for a physical, then the medical results have to be communicated to the other team, then the two teams have to finalize the deal. All that kinda stuff could easily take few days.

    • calicubsfan007

      @Max: Is there any chance that Vitters is injured? I agree that they probably wouldn’t pull him after two games without a likely reason.

      • MaxM1908

        Wouldn’t we have heard about an injury by now? I agree, Goat, that we should have heard about a trade, but maybe it’s just a better kept secret than most.

        • calicubsfan007

          @Max: Exactly. The less we hear about a trade, the better.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      I have a hard time believing Caracas just drops him because he goes 0-7 in the first two games.

      If Vitters looked as bad in that 0-7 as he did in the games I saw him play in DC in September, then I have no problems believing it.

      • MaxM1908

        Touché, Doc. Perhaps I’m only discussing this trade speculation because I don’t want to believe he could be THAT bad.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          I have a really hard time believing a guy, while healthy, could post an .869 OPS in Triple A, then go a winter league that is arguably not even the equal of Triple A ball (top to bottom, anyway), and look so abysmally awful in just 7 at bats that professional baseball officials instantly kick him to the curb. Something else is going on here.

          • Kyle

            They said something about a “parallel” league which I assume is like their JV or something where he didn’t look good.

            But it mostly seems like they feel like in a very short season, they don’t have time to work marginal guys through slumps.

            • DarthHater

              I’ll bet Ozzie has returned to Venezuela and has hand in this!

            • TC

              Yeah, a Venezuelan writer (@rafaelrojasc) that Harry Pavlidis asked on twitter said that Vitters “wasn’t even Able to hit at the VZ league’s version of Minors. “He wasn’t able to adapt and we have no time to wait for him” ” and, concerning his time in the VWL minor leagues thing, “Those numbers are hard to find but man, if a guy who plays at MLB level can’t even hit at Paralela, that’s trouble ”

              https://twitter.com/harrypav/status/273869412753367040

              • MaxM1908

                Well….that’s not good. We need to get Vitters a slump-buster.

              • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                I still suspect there is something more to this. Granted the VWL has a short leash, but seven at bats isn’t short, it’s non-existent. I strongly suspect the move had as much to do with available roster slots and the needs of the team as it did with Vitters failing to hit in 7 ABs.

                • TC

                  Again, though, that link says that he got more than 7 ab, just not at the same level. He got many more at bats at a sub-VWL league, and struggled there, too. Maybe he just wasn’t any good down there?

            • hansman1982

              Parallel appears to be the town (or league) that the team or league is based in.

          • MaxM1908

            I think an injury makes the most sense. How does Winter league work? Are the players still completely under MLB team control? Or, are they on temporary loan where the Venezuelan team has some control? So, as an example, let’s say that Vitters had some kind of minor strain–the type a player could play through. If he mentioned it to a Cubs’ trainer, could the Cubs make the Venezuelan team drop him to not risk further injury? Or, would the Venezuelan team have some say in whether or not he keeps playing?

          • Kubphan82

            Can we just PLEASE LEAVE THE PCL… Good Lord, what use is a league which provides nothing tangible to evaluate???

            *sigh*

            Okay but seriously, what are the Cubs options for AAA?

      • DarthHater

        Come on, Doc. He wasn’t bad at AAA last year. Is the Venezuela Winter League that much better than the PCL?

        Or maybe the Caracas Lions are just a lot better than the Cubs? (easier to believe)

      • DocPeterWimsey

        heh, there was a touch of sarcasm! And I think that Vitters actually homered in the Nats game that I didn’t see. (At that point, the Nats pitchers probably were taking bets to see if they could actually hit Cub bats, as the Flubbies looked so absolutely hapless in that series. Wait, sorry, sarcasm again ;-))

    • Kyle

      The Caracas front office had a quote saying that he wasn’t adjusting to the rhythm of the game down there and they didn’t want to wait on him

      • DocPeterWimsey

        Yeah, they do it to sort of a reggae thing there, and Vitters comes across as more of a bluegrass kind of guy.

        • MaxM1908

          Wasn’t Josh going to change his name to Vitters Lion?

        • DarthHater

          I shot the sheriff…
          But I could not hit the breaking pitch.

          • MaxM1908

            No average, no cry.

        • MichiganGoat

          I love it when the Doc gets snarky :)

          • DocPeterWimsey

            I didn’t realize that I did non-snarky!

            Seriously, we always here about guys wanting to get work in the winter leagues, but it often seems like they often do very little playing there. Of course, those leagues are not run as extended spring training for MLBers: as Kyle mentioned, if Vitters was slow getting with the program, then his team probably had better things to do than get him a ton of PAs to iron things out.

      • MaxM1908

        Do you have a link to the Caracas front office’s statement? I’d be curious how they worded it.

        • DarthHater

          If you go on Twitter and search for “Vitters” you’ll find some Spanish tweets. I suspect one of those is the statement. i don;t read Spanish, so i can;t say for sure.

        • Kyle

          If you search on “Vitters” and “Avila” on Twitter it pops up.

          “Vitters no pudo batear en la paralela y no hay tiempo para esperar”

          • MaxM1908

            Rough translation: Vitters did not bat (well?) in the parallel league and there is no time to wait?

            • DocPeterWimsey

              That’s is similar to what my computer says for Spanish, too: “Vitters could not bat in the parallel and there is no time to hope”. Interestingly, my computer translates this from Klingon to: “The alien had no honor and sullied this warrior’s blade.” However, it translates most things that way, so I wouldn’t read much into it.

              Seriously, is this saying that his swing was completely unlevel (parallel to the ground)? I suspect that there is an idiom here. (Again, assuming that Klingon is wrong.)

  • CrAzyhorse

    I remember when the Cubs drafted Vitters a young H.S player with overwhelming raw talent. Nobody would have thought he might be a bust. He might not be, but the direction does not look good. All im saying for every prospect the Cubs get and develop is not a sure thing, and to pin all your hopes on the farm system is foolish. The Cubs owner and front office ineed to put a team on the field that can compete- lets worry about contending later..

    • Kubphan82

      Crazyhorse is Angel pagan’s nickname.. I’d like for him to return…

      Vitters needed different instruction right out of school, we now know the deficiencies out farm had in the development department. If Vitters becomes somebody it’s because he overcame challenges from inept instructors by way of new ones, albeit that’ll take some time.

      • Njriv

        I would love for Angel Pagan to return.He’s 31, not too old, he’s a switch hitter, top of the order guy that can give you about 30 stolen bases and 50-60 RBI’s a season, decent glove and a veteran presence in the club house. The part that really gets me is that we share the same birth day (July 2nd) and we both are Puerto Rican!

        • joking

          I agree with you about Pagan. However, I will not agree with what he is probably wanting. I would say he wants a 4-5 year deal around 9m a year. Total speculation but that is what I would say he wants. The cubs will pick up whatever is left in the OF market after other teams have signed players OR they will pick one up now before other’s swoop in. IF they decide to sign sooner than later they will most likely over pay to get them signed early. Call me crazy but I wouldn’t mind signing chone figgins for super cheap he just got released.

          • Kubphan82

            I almost called you crazy, until I realized your name was “joking”…

            Seriously, I’ve read that Pagan is roughly 3/27-4/35, and that’s fine by me. I’d say that makes him a Cub. I don’t want the Bourn Contract, Victorino wants a past performance contract… Other teams will want Pagan, I’m hopeful the Cubs work to get him.

            • joking

              3/27 I would do tops, 2 yr deal im in

      • CrAzyhorse

        I dont have a clue and you could be correct . Rizzo looked terrible when the Padres brought him up. he could not hit a fastball over 94 mph (not that many could)but he overcame his mind farts and excelled to the next level. But – I think you might be suggesting that Hendry had a terrible farm system and under Theo the players will develop faster and smarter. well i disagree Hendry drafted H.S players ( big reward , epic fails) also Hendry 25 man roster was full of veterans so waiting for players mature was okay. But he failed just like Theo is failing with the 25 man roster.

        • MichiganGoat

          So what should have Theo done with the 25 man roster? What should he have done last off season? What should he do now?

          • CrAzyhorse

            Forget about Stewart his wrist injury will prevent him from being that monster and that trade was horrible – we gave up a serviceable infielder and a rf in Colvin . We should have kept marshall then trade him at midsummer. Dejesus was not needed and the money used for Sp . Rameriez should have been offered a 3 year contract – with trade for the FO options .

            This year the Cubs should go after A 3B withJjackson, Vitters garza and marmol as trade bait eat the contract to get a decent player in return.
            Bull pen help open the wallets . 2 – 2-3 year contracts then flip who ever excels -

            • MichiganGoat

              Okay so then we would only have lost 85 games and have ARam locked into a 3 year deal (he had 10/5 rights and would not accept a trade). I guess where I’m going with this is there is no way we didn’t completely stink last year. So how is the FO failing?

              • Kyle

                Oh no, not a good third baseman locked up for two more years? That’d be horrible! Good thing we avoided that fate.

                Even if you believe the absurdity that the team was doomed to lose no matter what last year, putting more than one or two new good players on the team would have put them in better position for 2013 and 2014.

                • hansman1982

                  Question #1: Did Aramis want to play for the Cubs? (Most commonly forgotten thing when people groan about the Cubs not signing XYZ player)
                  Question #2: Would Aramis continue to be injured?
                  Question #3: When will his slow starts translate into slow years?

                  Remember, Aramis had a couple years in a row where he lost significant time due to injury. Signing him (to what would probably be 3/45 to get him) would not have been a sure fire awesome move.

                  • Kyle

                    “Question #1: Did Aramis want to play for the Cubs? (Most commonly forgotten thing when people groan about the Cubs not signing XYZ player)”

                    Absolutely valid point, which is why people should stop demanding alternative offseasons. We either have to assume players would sign, or we have to go on insider rumors that we have no real idea if they are true or not (like the one that the Cubs turned down Chase Headley for Brett Jackson and Trey McNutt).

                    “Question #2: Would Aramis continue to be injured?
                    Question #3: When will his slow starts translate into slow years?
                    Remember, Aramis had a couple years in a row where he lost significant time due to injury. Signing him (to what would probably be 3/45 to get him) would not have been a sure fire awesome move.”

                    No such thing as a guarantee in baseball. If our front office isn’t willing to take real risks at the MLB level, they need to get out of the game.

                    • hansman1982

                      It is also about taking smart risks. Spending $15M a year for 3 years on a guy who played *almost* 1 full season out of the previous 3 is a pretty hefty risk.

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                      Yeah, but with our hindsight goggles we know that he was definitely going to have a great and healthy year in 2012.

                    • Kyle

                      With my foresight goggles, I knew that Ian Stewart would be neither of those things in 2012. So we had that going for us, if only someone had listened.

                    • EQ76

                      With the numbers ARam put up just about every year, even with the injuries, I’m not sure he was much of a risk.. bottom line, he wanted out.when the word “rebuild” came into play.

                    • hansman1982

                      This discussion is not about Ian Stewart – stack on track here bubba.

                    • hansman1982

                      EQ – I think that is a lot of it. He had a chance to force arbitration and get $16-18M in a one year deal if he really wanted to be back here.

                • King Jeff

                  I feel there was more of a culture change going on than anything by allowing Ramirez to walk. In hindsight, his bat would have been a big difference maker in the lineup. I think it boils down to the front office striking out on finding even a replacement level third baseman, which makes the idea of still having Ramirez at third seem pretty enticing, despite the friction between ARam and some of the fans and media.

              • Dr. Percival Cox

                And we wouldn’t have Pierce Johnson in our system. Based on early returns, that might be the biggest loss.

                • Kyle

                  A college pitcher with arm problems who has yet to appear significantly in A ball. If that’s the biggest loss for putting good MLB players on the team, I’ll live with it.

                  • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                    Well…that’s a pretty shortsighted outlook.

                    • Kyle

                      No, it’s an outlook that understands the relative value of prospects vs. the major leagues. A perspective that Cubs fans have completely and utterly lost in their attempts to prove how Not Jim Hendry they are.

                    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                      It’s a perspective that might get the Cubs only 96 losses instead of 102.
                      Whoopty Doo

                    • Kyle

                      If that’s the best our front office could do while applying their ample resources to the major league roster, they should be fired for being terrible at their jobs. Why do you hate our front office so much as to imply that they are that incompetent?

                    • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

                      “Why do you hate our front office so much as to imply that they are that incompetent?”
                      to make this team a competitor by throwing money at free agents in one offseason is quite the realistic expectation.
                      Phillies, Red Sox, Marlins, Angels say hi.

                  • kranzman54

                    Man you just have a good answer for everything. I gotta say though, I do hate that we lost Ramirez and a) got nothing in return and b) had Ian Stewart as the solution. I do think we can turn things around with the right moves, but there is a ton of risk to signing back a ton of Ramirez type players and possibly being stuck with more monster contracts on okay players. In a weird way, the cubs are playing it safe building all these prospects.

                    • Kyle

                      Bringing back Ramirez definitely wasn’t my first choice. Or even my second. But it was a far sight better than the choice we made.

                      The only way the Cubs are playing it safe with these prospects is that they safely get to avoid criticism so long as they can sell Cubs fans on the idea that it’s not their fault the team they are in charge of loses so many games.

                    • kranzman54

                      I have to disagree, if all these prospect don’t start producing in the next 2ish years there will be criticism and firings, heck they are openly saying they are reuilding now and taking criticism for their lack of wins.

                    • Boogens

                      “I gotta say though, I do hate that we lost Ramirez and a) got nothing in return…”

                      We can thank Aramis (at least in part) for that. He didn’t want to uproot his family to play on a contender.

                    • kranzman54

                      I understand that, I’m just saying it is unfortunate

            • CrAzyhorse

              We lost alot of games due in part of the bullpen 3b C not to mention the back 3 sp was almost a guarantee lose in the L column

              • hansman1982

                the back 3 SP were only that way after the deadline when the Cubs lost nearly as many games as the 4 months prior.

                You mean we should have kept Tyler Colvin and his 25% K rate and .364 BABIP last year? You mean the guy who played in Coors and got numbers because of that and an amazing BABIP? The guy who had a whopping .206 OBP in 2011?

                Trading away Colvin for anything at a position of need wasn’t a bad idea.

                • Kyle

                  “the back 3 SP were only that way after the deadline when the Cubs lost nearly as many games as the 4 months prior.”

                  That’s not entirely true. The abomination that was Chris Volstad was inflicted upon us earlier in the year.

                  “You mean we should have kept Tyler Colvin and his 25% K rate and .364 BABIP last year? You mean the guy who played in Coors and got numbers because of that and an amazing BABIP? The guy who had a whopping .206 OBP in 2011?”

                  How intriguing that you cite BABIP when it suits your point and ignore it when you don’t.

                  “Trading away Colvin for anything at a position of need wasn’t a bad idea.”

                  What we got was worse than anything.

                  I’m a little surprised at how well Colvin did (his road OPS still makes him a useful backup OFer given his ability to play a passable MLB CF), but really, the problem was wanting Ian Stewart at all.

                  • hansman1982

                    alright – I don’t have the BABIP figures in front of me and his 2011 numbers were horrific but if I remember correctly it would have raised his OBP to a whopping .280-.290 – HOORAY!

        • Kubphan82

          I’m suggesting that Theo will scout better, draft better, and develop the players drafted. The problem is that under Hendry the Cubs reached for players, drafted a lot of raw talent, and sure scouts liked these guys… BUT it doesn’t stop there, the Cubs failed the development of players unanimous of scout’s praise…

          At some point I have to conclude that the development of our prospects was an epic fail for far too long. Theo has a good, if not stellar, track record with the draft/development.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          The Hendry farm system under Wilken’s drafts actually focused mainly on college position players. That’s how the Cubs built one of the deepest farm systems in baseball on a disgustingly small budget.

          And I still don’t understand the rush to give up on Vitters. The kid had an OPS of .869 as a 22 year old in Triple A, in his taste of that level. That’s not the work of a complete bust or a failure of a prospect. He may not become what fans hoped for when he was drafted No 3 over all, but he’s by no means a bust yet.

          • Kubphan82

            I think people are sick of the “bad news” from him. Lets face it tho, Vitters doesn’t project to be an AS, maybe a solid 3B with defensive issues. If he works into our plans for a couple years, that’s cool… If not, oh well. They should be looking for someone to man the base now, and after… Just in case.

          • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

            Luke, do you think Vitters has the same value as Anthony Rizzo did when we traded for him? In my opinion it would be great if we could flip Vitters for a guy like Cashner.(not Cashner specifically but a pitcher of his caliber)

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              Not close to the same value. Rizzo played well above average defense, offered more power, and hit left handed. Vitters may still project as a better contact hitter, but that’s about the only area where compares favorable to Rizzo.

              Then again, a lot of people thought the Padres got too little for Rizzo.

              • MaxM1908

                I forget, did we send anyone besides Cashner to San Diego for Rizzo?

              • http://bleachernation.com someday…2015?

                Damn that’s kind of what I thought.
                I hope Vitters reaches his potential, and sticks with the Cubs, but I got a feeling he’s going to be part of package deal that brings back what the Cubs need most. Pitching.

          • CrAzyhorse

            I believe hendry selected college pitchers but kept looking for H.S position players.in the early rounds

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

              Reggie Golden was taken in the second round out of high school, but he was no by means typical of a trend. Colvin, Jackson, Flaherty, LeMahieu, Barney, Gibbs… that’s more the type of player the Hendry-Wilken drafts loaded up on in the first five rounds. There were some high ceiling high-schooler hitters sprinkled in there (Golden and Watkins are probably the most notable two), but the safe bet was that the Cubs would snag college position players who were considered fairly likely to reach the majors.

    • http://wavesoftalent.webs.com tim

      When Vitters was starting in the system, it was like a school system where all second gradedrs are pushed up to third grade, whether they had the basics down or not.

      You should never pin your hopes on any one prospect. Too many things can go wrong from Rookie Ball to the bigs. That said, it’s nice having a string of talent moving up the pipeline with one (or two) more drafts with early picks upcoming.

  • Carew

    Off topic but what exactly makes the PCL a hitters league but not International? Ive seen the Durham Bulls play for years and ive seen many just absolutely rake…

    also its kinda funny how things reverse, BJ Upton used to have stone hands in the field, probably b/c he was at short, and hit like a monster.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

      It’s a combination of tiny ballparks (often older stadiums) and a number of teams playing in Arizona/Colorado like climates/altitudes in the western U.S…. but without a humidor or a domed stadium.

      Imagine a league where many of the parks are smaller (dimensions wise) than Wrigley and have the offensive profile of Coors before the soggy balls, and you get the idea.

      • MichiganGoat

        I also heard the pitchers are weaker in AAA because 1-the best pitcher don’t stay in AAA as long or just never play there and 2-teams store fringe starters there like Volstad or Coleman and they are working on new pitches or techniques making them even more hitable.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

          On the other hand, there are more pitchers with major league experience who are able to take advantage of younger hitters, and the veteran pitchers are arguably motivated to prove they deserve another major league job. I’m not convinced that AAA pitching is weaker than AA (as some do claim), but I do agree that it may not be a steep a jump as players experience when going from High A to Double A.

      • Carew

        Oh ok. That makes a lot of sense now haha. Thanks Luke and MG

  • Chris

    Anytime we can add quality international players we have to consider it if for no other reason than this: To be competitive long-term (foundation of sustained success or whatever), the Cubs need to be seen as a destination for players from that nation. Fukudome was a start, but it needs to be followed up. Right now we have no Japanese presence. A Japanese presence also = merchandise sales in a big market. That’s not something to scoff at. The Cubs need to be seen as a big deal in Japan. This guy isn’t going to do it, but again–if signing some Japanese players makes Chi-town seem like a friendly destination for the next superstar, it’s a worthy investment. And I think it’s got to be part of a larger strategy of marketing the team to the Pacific rim.

  • Dustin

    Tigers willing to trade Porcello now?!? Cubs should jump on this asap!!!

    • MaxM1908

      Where did you see that?

      • Dustin

        MLBTR -The Tigers have let other teams know they’re willing to discuss Rick Porcello in trades.

        • MaxM1908

          Interesting. It also appears that Volstad is a free agent. Hey Hey!

    • joking

      barney, soriano and marmol for castellanos and porcello

  • Njriv

    Jordan Walden anyone?

  • Eric

    Ok both insiders are talkin over at PSD seems like something should happen soon. We are shopping Barney, we are in on this guy. Probably trading Marmol. Hopefully soon there will be alot of action to talk about.

    • Can’t think of a cool name

      What’s PSD?

      • Kyle

        Pro Sports Daily, which has a Cubs subforum that involves at least two people with some insider contacts (one with extremely good Cubs info, one who works with scouts and hears a lot of industry chatter).

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          Didn’t those insiders that said McCarthy, Villanueva, and Marcum were all leaning towards the Cubs offer last week or two?

          • Kyle

            One did. But that’s exactly what he said. “Leaning toward,” and that was all. Last I heard from him, Villanueva at least was offered the same contract as Feldman but something more like 2 years plus an option.

            People tend to spasm out when they say anything. The really good Cubs info guy said the team was trying hard to move Barney and that he, personally, wouldn’t be surprised if Barney was moved “soon.” Suddenly everyone’s checking the thread every two minutes waiting for the trade announcement.

            • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

              Haven’t we ALL been thinking that Barney would be moved soon?
              Isn’t it easy to say that a bunch of free agent pitchers that may be undervalued (marcum/villanueva/mccarthy) are leaning towards the Cubs offer…and since they only said “leaning” they don’t have to worry about being wrong?
              I guess if they included Baker and Feldman they would have looked like geniuses.

  • RoughRiider

    “Japanese players frequently prefer to play on the West Coast for proximity reasons, so the Cubs’ inclusion is not merely one of convenience.”

    Proximity isn’t really relevant. The flght distance between LA to Toko and Chicago to Tokyo is only about 800 miles. Basically the difference of a 11 hour flight or a 13 hour flight.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      You may think that, but it comes up again and again. I totally understand what you mean, but, for whatever reason, it comes up.

      It’s not just the flight, by the way, it’s media exposure/Asian community size. Both are larger on the West Coast.

      • RoughRiider

        Fair enough and agreed there is a large asian community in Southern California. I guess we need to have Poland & Germany develop some sound prospects.

        • RoughRiider

          And Ireland.

        • EQ76

          “Fair enough and agreed there is a large asian community in Southern California.”

          Yeah, just spend a day at Disneyland and you’ll definitely find this statement to be true.

    • MaxM1908

      As someone who travels frequently from Chicago to London, Paris, and Geneva, I can say those couple hours make a difference. First, there tends to be greater frequency and flexibility with cities closer to the destination, and second, if you travel frequently, those hours of your life really start to add up.

      • RoughRiider

        Been there, done that. I’ve slept a lot on planes and in airports. I had to take a 2 hour drive to an airport and 3 flights of 6-7 hours plus 3 layovers of 10, 7 & 6 hours and I’ve flown from Aukland to LA. But LA or Chicago to a major city in Japan are direct flights and since I’m sure he would be flying first class and not that frequently (a relief pitcher) It’s not that big a difference.

  • Myles

    When a talent like Luke Hochevar becomes available, you’ve got to try to acquire him.

    Look at his sweet numbers:
    5.39 ERA over 771 IP
    6.2 SO/9
    3.0 BB/9
    1.403 WHIP
    We need to get on that before he becomes to pricey as a free agent.
    Kansas City’s phones must be ringing off the hook when other teams found out he was in play.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      *chuckles*

    • Edwin

      Hochevar seems like the type of guy the Cubs would take a flyer on. Decent DIPS, but a bad ERA. Until 2012 he did a decent job of getting ground balls, and was usually in the 1.5-2.0 fWAR range. A move to the NL would help; He was at $3M last season for salary, and even if that increases due to Arb, he won’t break the bank. He’s entering his age 29-30 season, but his fastball still sits at 92-93. He’s made 30+ starts the last 2 seasons, so he’s somewhat durable.

      I’d do a Vitters for Hochevar trade any day. Hochevar has a great slider, so even if he doesn’t work out as a starter, the cubs could re-sign him for cheap and try him as a reliever.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

        Hochevar is a pretty strong non-tender candidate, no? I’d rather wait to see if he’s non-tendered rather than give up something of value for the privilege of paying him an inflated arbitration salary.

  • Assman22

    Barney getting shopped hard, stay tuned…

    • Ryan

      Any other details?

  • 2much2say

    Any trade that strengthens a weakness is worth Top prospects,
    provided the Top Prospects come from a position of depth, i.e, SS
    So, trading Baez or Castro or Barney for a Top 3rd baseman is a fair deal.

  • Pingback: Lukewarm Stove: Garza, Myers, Marmol, Porcello, Hochevar, Walden, More | Bleacher Nation | Chicago Cubs News, Rumors, and Commentary()

  • Mike

    Yes Cubs! Thank you for signing this guy!

  • Mike

    “…Really the only negative to which you could point is the fact that his innings pitched have declined of late, from 83 in 2007 to 57.2 in 2009 to 51 in 2011 to 47.2 last year.”

    Respectfully, if you look at his injury history, and especially his opportunities to rack up innings in the past 3-4 seasons, you can see why his innings have diminished. He played for more winning teams early on, and since, his teams have had losing records, or right around .500. I’m not too concerned about his drop-off in innings pitched. I realize, with his age, stuff and mechanics, it could be a concern, but my gut says it’s not really a large concern (and I’m not saying the article was implying that…just putting in my two cents). :)

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