Winter Meetings Week Ends and Other Bullets

Winter Meetings week comes to a close. For me, personally, it means I can return to not being a terrible father – I may have seen the Little Girl for a total of 15 minutes during the waking hours so far this week. And, during those 15 minutes, she showed me something she’d just learned: “Dad-dy’s work-king.” I was impressed, but I also immediately heard Harry Chapin singing in my head …

  • Jed Hoyer on leaving the Winter Meetings without a ton having happened around the league: “There’s a long way to go until we get to Mesa. We all have to remind ourselves that. There are still a lot of players out there and still a lot of time. Leaving here, sometimes you feel it’s closer to the end of the offseason than the beginning, but it’s actually closer to the beginning. There’s still a lot of time left, and we have resources left.”
  • The Cubs will be introducing newly-signed reliever Kyuji Fujikawa at a press conference later this morning at 11:30am CT, so I guess he passed his physical. You can expect a number of “closer” questions. His addition to the 40-man, will take it up to 39 (with Rule 5 pick Hector Rondon already added). Nate Schierholtz and Ian Stewart are coming as well, so there is going to have to be a move. And if the Cubs want to add another reliever, another starter, another infielder and another outfielder … well, you can see. There are going to have to be some serious roster machinations.
  • In yesterday’s Rule 5 Draft, almost 10% of all of the players taken came from the Cubs’ farm system. That is a bummer, but it’s also an encouraging compliment. Other teams wanted these players, and the Cubs didn’t have room (or desire) to protect them all.
  • Speaking of the Rule 5, the Cubs’ pick, Hector Rondon, is coming off of two elbow procedures – a Tommy John surgery and a fractured elbow thing – and it’s interesting to read a take on him from the Indians’ perspective just after he had the second procedure. (h/t to Harry on Twitter.)
  • Phil Rogers says that Stewart re-signing was a shrewd move, considering the market. Reading it sparked a thought in my head – given the dearth of talen on the free agent market, and the desperation of teams to find a third baseman, does Luis Valbuena have any trade value? I kind of doubt it, but he’s cheap, plays good defense, and with a better BABIP last year, would have put up an OPS+ right around 100. In other words, there’s an argument that he projects to be a league average third baseman next year for cheap. But my gut says, “nah, there are a dozen Valbuena’s out there.”
  • There is currently a lawsuit going on that challenges the territorial rights of MLB teams, which leads to those nasty black-out restrictions on MLB.tv, which we all hate. The case relates to teams’ abilities to sell their broadcasting rights wherever they want, or, more accurately, fans’ abilities to buy rights to any team they want. I’ll confess to not being smart enough (or, I suppose, not yet having enough information) to intelligently speculate on the impact of a significant change in this area, other than the possible lifting of ridiculous restrictions on MLB.tv. If teams are not limited to selling rights within their own territories, does that mean those huge local TV rights deals are kaput? Which would obviously suck, because the Cubs would miss the window. Or does it mean that teams can still sell rights to their local providers, as well as selling rights – without MLB’s involvement – at a national level? If it’s the latter, I could actually see a win in this case meaning that teams like the Cubs (and definitely Yankees, Red Sox, and maybe Dodgers?) benefitting disproportionately, as they tend to have a more national fan base than most other teams. Again: don’t take any of that as gospel, as I’m just spitballing on a really, really small amount of information about both the case and the nature of the relevant television contracts. I have a feeling this might be a really big story, though.
  • Former Cub Blake DeWitt has signed a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves. He will always be remembered as the primary return piece in the Ted Lilly/Ryan Theriot deal.
  • The CCO’s most recent recap includes a transcript of an interview Jed Hoyer had on MLBN radio yesterday. There isn’t anything shocking, but it’s an interesting read.
  • The MLBullets at BCB discuss the whimper that was the Winter Meetings.

Brett Taylor is the editor and lead writer at Bleacher Nation, and can also be found as Bleacher Nation on Twitter and on Facebook.

89 responses to “Winter Meetings Week Ends and Other Bullets”

  1. Cubbie Blues

    I would love it if they just lightened up the blackout areas on mobile devices. If I’m home I watch them on TV, but so often I am waiting at the kids school or something and would love to be able to watch it rather than listen on the internet feed.

    1. hansman1982

      or even made the blackout restrictions more reasonable. There is no reason that Des Moines should be blacked out from any MLB games.

      1. MichiganGoat

        Iowa is the one of the worst in country, here in Michigan I’m only blocked from Tigers games but the local cable gives you their CSN feed so its no loss but if your area does not give you the local Fox/CSN feeds the blackouts make no sense.

        1. Dustin S

          In Western Illinois right on the Iowa border all of Cubs/Sox/Twins and Cards are blacked out with the package. Oddly, the Brewers (who are closer to me than the Twins btw) are not. At some point they’ll realize the increased income from doing away with these unpopular blackouts would be far greater than the small number of tickets and concessions they sell due to blackouts.

      2. Lou

        I live in Iowa and got the Directv sports package. More cost yes but also more baseball. I get Twins, Royals, Brewers, Cards (yeah, who cares)and the Chicago markets from local feeds with no blackouts. But there’s that cost thing and you need Directv.

      3. Stinky Pete

        I can understand the Iowa blackout. If I can’t watch the game on TV, I simply cancel all of my appointments, find a baby sitter for the kids and drive seven hours to Chicago to watch the game. That’s reasonable isn’t it?

        1. hansman1982

          I do that at least once a day…

    2. Hee Seop Chode

      Or maybe make games avaialblewhen they are sold out at Wrigley – like many are. Have the exact same commercials as tv, on more screens and more accessable. More eyes should mean more revenue to someone right?

      I’d even pay something reasonable – though not $100+ a season.

      1. hansman1982

        I always thought that was the point of the blackout. When they thought it wasn’t going to sell out they’d blackout the TV feed to draw a few more fans into the stadium.

        1. Cubbie Blues

          That’s what it started out as. Now I’m not sure what it’s supposed to do. You can’t get the games with MLB At Bat. So who knows what they are trying to accomplish.

          1. Stinky Pete

            Seriously, though, it frustrates the hell out me. I’m standing here with the $100 or whatever it costs for the season, ready to hand it over. But I am not going to pay for it if I can’t watch the Cubs. No way no how. And it pisses me off that they don’t want my money.

            1. Dougy D

              Living in North Iowa about 4 years ago, I subscribed to MLB.tv so I could watch the Cubs instead of the Twins (how lame). Every single Cubs game was blacked out for over a week. I called and they told me I could be blacked out for the Cubs, White Sox, Twins, Brewers, Cardinals, and Royals. The closest stadium was 3 hours away, then 6 or more for the rest of them. Needless to say I cancelled and went with MLB radio for a fraction of the cost.

  2. Smitty

    Luke and Brett,

    Will one of you be doing a breakdown of the players we lost in the Rule-5 draft and how big of a hit their losses are? Peralta we all know about, but what about the others?

    Thanks

    1. Luke

      There is something in pipeline that covers that.

  3. ETS

    Talen = talent.

    1. mudge

      thanks for clearing that up.

  4. Tim

    I’m pretty sure we only lost starlin peralta. Lol but only 15 players were taken. That is somewhat close to 10% haha

    1. Cubbie Blues

      The Cubs also lost Michael Burgess, Matt Cerda and Alvido Jimenez in the AAA portion.

      1. Tim

        that’s right. I forgot about that. My bad

  5. AP

    That lawsuit could be huge! But doesn’t MLB still have at least a partial anti-trust exemption which applies to their broadcasting rights? I could see that card getting pulled, the case getting thrown out, Congress making a huge deal about it again to gain publicity, then nothing really happening. But I’m not bitter.

  6. Kyle

    Valbuena probably has a little trade value, but we’re already short one backup infielder, so I don’t see the point in making it two.

  7. Spoda17

    I thought we lost three guys…

    1. hansman1982

      we lost 2 in the minor league portion – Matt Cerda and someone else. Meh.

      1. Spriggs

        I don’t like losing Burgess though. I still believe he has something to offer and will stick in the majors this year.

      2. hansman1982

        oh nevermind – forgot about Jimenez.

  8. Rcleven

    Gee if Rodgers said it it must be true.

  9. Tim

    I was just wondering.. What are the exact rules on how you are able to keep your rule 5 selection? Teams take very young pitchers and stash them in the bullpen, do teams ever take young positional players? For example, if the cubs took the equivalent to Albert Almora or any other bog prospect from a different organization could they let him play or are there rules against that? Or do teams shy away from it because it would hurt their development?

    1. Kenster

      Well positional players do get taken. The Cubs lost Ryan Flaherty to the Orioles and Marwin Gonzalez to the Astors last year. Cant take a guy like Almora though since they have to be in the system for 5 years after signing without being put on the 40 man roster

      1. Tim

        Gotcha. Thanks. Therefore, teams wouldn’t get the best prospects because if nothing goes wrong, those players would be in the bigs or on the 40 man after those 5 years. If not, they got hurt, ineffective, etc.

        1. Kenster

          Exactly, although Josh Hamilton was once a top pick like Almora he got injured a lot and had his trouble outside of baseball which led him not to be put on the 40 man roster after 5 years with the Rays system he did get drafted in the rule 5 by the Cubs of all teams until they traded him to the Reds where he stayed on the team all year. The rest is history lol.

          1. MichiganGoat

            We only had Hamilton on paper for a quick second, we made a deal with the Reds to draft and then trade him.

          2. Jim L.

            The Cubs drafted Hamilton as a favor to the Reds, the Cubs never had any intention of using the pick to draft Hamilton.

            1. Kenster

              Well ya i understand that but they had him and easily had a chance to just keep him. He didnt do too awesome with the Reds at first but it still landed them Edinson Volquez. Im not sure who they had at the moment maybe they didn’t have room on the bench so they agreed to set up the trade.

    2. Kyle

      Prospects are only eligible to be drafted if they’ve been in the minors a certain number of years (varying depending on how old they were when they signed and when they start as a pro, but usually three or four. That part is complicated.) and are not on the team’s 40-man roster yet.

      So a guy like Almora is safe for four years, and whenever he runs out of those years, he’ll be added on to the 40-man roster and thus safe.

      That’s why you won’t ever see a big prospect in the Rule 5 draft.

      It was originally designed to give MLB-ready players in stacked organizations a chance to play, back in the days when there was a lot less parity in the farm systems and a few teams has massive farm systems and others had little. Teams now use it to try to “stash” interesting prospects for a year who are just outside of another team’s 40-man roster and then put them back in the minors.

  10. Kenster

    What happens to the players in the AAA portion? They have to stick with the AAA team? Never understood that part

    1. Kyle

      No roster restrictions on the minor league portion. If he’s unprotected, he’s yours.

      1. northsiders6

        So why not take Rondon in the AAA round and keep him of the 40 man?

        1. Kenster

          There would have been a pretty good chance he would have been chosen by the time of the AAA roundby another team. He wouldn’t have lasted and would’ve been risky

        2. MichaelD

          Also teams can protect an additional ~35 players for the AAA portion of the draft. I can’t imagine anyone who was taken in the ML portion would not have been at least on the AAA protected list.

  11. Matt

    We appreciate what you do, but I hope that was an overstatement for dramatic effect in regards to your daughter.

    It’s never worth it. Never.

  12. Melrosepad

    For backup infielder, any chance we bring Adrian Cardenas back? I’d like to see him be given a real shot instead of all the pinch hits. Also would someone like Matt Downs be good? He didn’t have a very good year last year, but 2011 was good.

  13. Brad

    Tigers reported to be looking for late inning relief, aka MARMOL and soriano for castellanos. Also Yankees checking in on Hamilton.

    1. Spriggs

      I’ve thought all along that Hamilton was going to be a Yankee.

    2. Chad

      Need a lot more than that to get Castellanos

      1. DocPeterWimsey

        Yeah, the Tigers already plan to put Castellanos at 3rd as soon as the DH spot opens up for Miggy/Prince. MIggy obviously is a placeholder at 3rd. (Literally: he’d need to greatly expand his mobility to have even Jeteresque range!)

        If Castellanos does go, then it would be part of a package for a Price-level pitcher. I would be surprised if he does go for Price: the Rays already have Longoria. However, a couple of other Price-like situations do exist in baseball (e.g,. King Felix!). Still, I’m betting that he starts playing 3rd full time in ’13 (with VMart getting traded) and that’s the last we worry about it for a while.

        As for Hamilton to the Yanks, well, it will be unsurprising if a rich AL team offers Hamilton a couple of more years than any NL team offers him simply because they can earmark him for DH. Girardi actually has been very creative about using the DH as a “day off” position for regulars, too, and Hamilton would fit in that mix nicely.

        That said, the Yanks supposedly want to reduce payroll, which now exceeds the GDP of over 50% of the world’s countries, I think. Yankee fans are pissed, of course: but they always are when it’s been more than a week without winning a WS.

  14. Ron

    The comments section is off to a good start today, noone has been called an a**hole and MFer. Lets try to keep it that way, disagreeing is fine and entertaining but if you can’t do it without name calling please don’t. I would like to think that there are some young budding cubs fans that read this and would like it to remain a place where people can disagree without the junk. That is why I came to bleacher nation. I have learned a lot and enjoy the comments but recently…yuck. Anyway, that is my two cents.

    1. mudge

      Agreed. Pissing contests are a waste of time.

    2. RoughRiider

      amen !!!

      I’ve always felt that that kind of behavior not only disrepects the person or persons it’s directed at but shows the lack of common sense and self respect of the person sending it.

  15. Spriggs

    The more I read about Rondon, the more he reminds me of Guzman. I don’t know how similar their injuries were, but their photos even look very similar.

    1. King Jeff

      Hah, I was thinking the same thing. He seems just as fragile as Angel was too.

    2. Hee Seop Chode

      Did Angel ever throw 97-98 MPH fastball? I’m not being disingenuous, I really don’t remember. I just remember him being a bit skinny and unfullfilled potential.

      1. Spriggs

        I’m sure he hit those numbers at one time or another, but he was basically mid 90′s with electric stuff and great command early on.

        1. Cubbie Blues

          If I remember correctly he was more highly touted than Marmol.

          1. Kenster

            Yes Guzman was one of the Cubs top prospects in early 2000s but kept getting injured. He was more touted than Marmol who didn’t come around til 2005ish. Guzman was tho suppose to be part of the young rotation with Wood Prior and Zambrano. Marmol wasn’t much of a highly touted prospect he kind of just popped up one year and did great in relief.

    3. bbmoney

      Guzman had shoulder problems didn’t he? He could bring the heat though too.

  16. Clark Addison

    The Cubs infield has the best gloves at every position that they’ve had in many years. Like maybe Banks, Beckert, Kessinger, and Santo. Hope they can hit like those guys.

  17. Austin

    I hope they lift the black out on CSN chicago for where I live (around the corner in Niles, Michigan)

  18. The Show

    Predictions: RP: Grilli/Gorzolany SP:McCarthy/Lannan, UTIF: Matt Downs. OF:A.Cunningham/ B.Fransisco

    1. Kenster

      I would love to see the Cubs resign Gorzelanny! Grilli will probably be going to the Pirates again. I dont see tgem offering the 3rd year on him but it would be nice. They will only sign one more quality starter hopefully McCarthy then some AAA depth on minor league contracts. I can see Matt Downs too. The Outfielders will be a crapshoot just hopefully no more Mathers

  19. Noah

    I also think one of the reasons the Winter Meetings were more uneventful than in recent years is that free agency really starts earlier under the new CBA. Under the old CBA, free agency really didn’t start until two things happened: (1) teams offered or declined to offer arbitration to their players who were becoming free agents; and (2) those players accepted or declined arbitration.

    This year, it was just a one step process of tendering that $13 millionish contract. The field of free agents was just solidified a couple of weeks earlier, so a fair number of the moves that usually would have happened during the winter meetings happened in the weeks before them.

    1. DocPeterWimsey

      Oddly, I see the opposite happening. Although Greinke and Hamilton were on the market before the Winter Meetings, they didn’t sign: and while those guys are unsigned, several teams are holding off on pursuing trades or other free agent signings. Some free agents probably are holding off: after all, Anibal Sanchez is worth more after Greinke is no longer an option than he is while Greinke is an option.

      Fans (Cubs and other teams) are complaining that their FO’s “failed” at the meetings. However, when you go to a dance and nobody is on the dance floor, then it’s really pointless to blame any one person: it’s more probably something to do with the band or the venue.

      1. Kyle

        Any complaints I’d have this offseason have less to do with lack of activity than with the fact that we’ve already “spent” all of our open playing spots except maybe one or two in the bullpen. Not the money or players we didn’t buy.

        1. Spencer

          Josh Hamilton for 3 yrs/75M! Let’s make it happen. I am became in fervent support of this position late last night.

          1. King Jeff

            Me too, and I’d be willing to spend even more of the Ricketts’ money than that. Now, we just need to make Josh Hamilton want to come to the Cubs. Any ideas for a campaign?

            1. Spencer

              Mark Grace: Professional Tour Guide.

              1. King Jeff

                I think he’s got some free time too. Who’s got his phone number or email? Is he on twitter?

                1. hansman1982

                  Ya his handle is @TheBar

                  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHa

      2. hansman1982

        The Winter Meetings are more like going to the dance to try and find a date.

        You might not actually get a dance with a lady that night but you better get a few phone numbers for down the road.

  20. rbreeze

    I believe that Theo and Jed will field another team simliar to last years. They will acquire another starter and some relief help and maybe another bat if its in the cards.
    But who are the key free agents for next year? we will be in better position then to maybe break out the wallet.
    Brett it may be the cart before the horse but maybe its an opportunity for a write up soon.

  21. Jim Cifaldi

    Does anyone know what channel the fujikawa signing will be on?

    1. fortyonenorth

      I think all the networks are covering it – like the State of the Union. ;)

  22. Andrew

    Hey guys I’m new here. Does anyone know if they will air the news conference for fujikawa? If they are, what channel will it be on? Thanks :)

  23. Njriv

    MLBTR suggests DeJesus to the Mariners? They have a lot of pitchers in their system.

    1. Spencer

      DeJesus for Taijuan Walker straight up. Done.

    2. Kyle

      Interesting, but I don’t see the Cubs being interested in trading DeJesus unless they are serious about Bourn, which I don’t think they are.

      1. CubFan Paul

        what does Dejesus have to do with Bourn? DeJesus is a short term asset that’s probably gone by July 31st. Trading him now maximizes any package he could net.

        1. Kyle

          What does our current starting CFer have to do with the possibility of acquiring a new starting CFer?

        2. cubchymyst

          Dejesus is currently tagged to play center field to start the season, if he is traded the cubs are more likely to bring in a center fielder from free agency. Remember Jackson is likely to be called up at some point and a trade will likely be made to make room for him around midseason.

    3. fortyonenorth

      That’s just Morosi with an out-of-left-field (or center field?) thought. I don’t see DeJesus being dealt, what with our lack of OF depth and Soriano on the block.

  24. Kyle

    Obviously, there’s plenty of time left in the offseason for things to change, but here’s my revised projection for the Cubs, this time taking injuries and such into account. There’s a “beyond the backups” section for each area of the team, where we start to dip into the depth beyond just the Opening Day 25. Soriano, Baker and Feldman get their projections directly dinged because of injury risk.

    As before, this is on the Baseball-Reference WAR Scale, which places replacement-level at 53 wins (a little higher than Fangraphs, thus meaning the WAR values are a little lower for each player than they might be on that or other sites).

    Soriano(1.5)/DeJesus(1.0)/Schierholtz(1.0) (Sappelt/Campana) (1.0) (Various backups 0)
    Stewart(0.0)/Castro (4.0)/Barney(2.0)/Rizzo(4.0) (Valbuena/Clevenger)(0.0) (Various backups -1.0)
    Castillo(1.0) (Navarro)(0.0)

    Garza(2.0)/Samardzija(2.5)/Baker(1.0)/Feldman(0.5)/Wood(1.0) (Various spot starters -0.5)
    Marmol/Fujikawa/Camp/Russell/Dolis/Beliveau/Rondon (3.0) (Various tag-ins, -0.5)

    Total: 23.5 WAR
    Projected record: 76-86
    Roster thoughts:
    1) We could really use a starting outfielder. I don’t like DeJesus in CF at all. But I do like the outfield depth. Jackson as your sixth guy in Iowa provides a nice replacement-level floor if you need it.

    2) We desperately need a reliable 6th infielder. I think Valbuena is excellent as a 5th. We lost a ton of wins last season in the backup infield, something like -3 WAR between Mather, Baker and DeWitt.

    3) I think Clevenger should be enough better than he was last year that I like him just fine to be a replacement-level third catcher.

    4) Another starting pitcher would be *huge* for this team right now. Wood in reserve as the sixth starter would be huge, considering how likely that position is to get 20+ starts this year.

  25. Teddy Ballgame

    Just throwing this out there…Obviously, this will NEVER happen, but seriously the Cubs could be competitive with a few major, but reachable deals…follow me. Sign Josh Hamilton for 3 yrs/$25m (per) and trade for Michael Young (like the Phillies are doing). Yes, a lot of $ for Hamilton and Yound would cost $ and a good prosepct, but imagine the lineup with these two moves.

    1. DeJesus
    2. Castro
    3. Hamilton
    4. Soriano
    5. Rizzo
    6. Michael Young
    7. Barney
    8. Welington Castillo
    9. {Pitcher}

    **Again, I understand these moves will never happen, but we may be a little closer than we all think. If this lineup above could ever come to fruition, we’d all have different perspectives.

    1. Kyle

      I don’t think it’d be a terrible idea by any stretch. But with what’s left out there on the market, I think $25 million worth of pitching might do us more good.

  26. Dante Hicks

    Brett,

    THe mention of Harry Chapin brings back so many memories. I believe the studio album with the song you was on the great “Verities and Balderdash.” I think the podcast name is right there.

    And, today, besides being Pearl Harbor day is Chapin’s birthday.

    He is missed.

    Dante

    1. Spriggs

      “…I stashed the bill in my shirt…” He is indeed missed.

      1. Dante Hicks

        Apologies for my typos. Nice mention Spriggs. I knew I loved the people at this site. I just hope Harry Chapin fans aren’t considered trolls.