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stoveThere’s a bit of rumor stuff to discuss today, which is a treat this time of year …

  • The Tigers just took advantage of that non-guaranteed arbitration-level contract thing that we’ve been discussing ad nauseam with respect to Ian Stewart. The Tigers dumped outfielder Brennan Boesch, whom they tendered a contract back in November on the thinking that they’d be able to trade him. The never found a taker for the soon-to-be-28-year-old lefty-hitting outfielder, and they released him today in order to save about $2 million. Boesch is coming off a down 2012 season (but with a low BABIP, suggesting a bounce-back is possible), but he was pretty great in 2011. The thing is, though, his defense in the outfield is suspect. The Cubs might have interest in the sense that they’d kick the tires on anyone like Boesch, but it feels like he’s going to have better options than a team that would bury him on the bench (and that doesn’t expect to be any good in 2013). The Yankees seem like an obvious fit with their outfield/DH needs, though his lefty bat probably isn’t what they’d prefer. For the Cubs, unless they could commensurately deal Alfonso Soriano, I just don’t see a fit for Boesch, as attractive as it might be to pick up someone like him off the scrap heap. When all is said and done, I bet he gets a big league deal from one of several bidders.
  • Another semi-interesting player who was released today is first baseman David Cooper, formerly of the Blue Jays. Once again, probably not a spot with the Cubs, but he’s a 26-year-old with good minor league numbers who is coming off a back injury. I could see the Cubs wanting to grab him on a minor league deal and stash him at first base at Iowa, as there isn’t currently an obvious back-up first baseman on the roster. If Anthony Rizzo goes down with a long-term injury, someone like Cooper might be nice to have as an insurance policy. HOWEVA, there are some concerns that the back injury currently troubling Cooper could have him out all season in 2013, and could actually be career threatening. So, that might trump everything else, depending on what’s what.
  • Jim Bowden says that the Cubs are more likely to sign Matt Garza long-term than they are to trade him if he comes back healthy this year. He doesn’t cite a source for that statement, though, so he may just be guessing. If I were just guessing, I couldn’t tell you which way the Cubs would lean if he came back healthy. It would depend on the trade offers they can get, and the extension offers they can get from Garza’s camp.
  • Bowden also throws out the possibility that the Cubs could pursue a Chase Headley trade midseason, which … I mean … ok? If Headley is shopped, I’m sure the Cubs will inquire, but so will most teams in baseball. And the teams willing to pay the steepest price for him are likely to be teams that are in the thick of a playoff run in 2013. That isn’t likely to include the Cubs.
  • Bruce Levine chatted yesterday, and … (1) the Cubs are going to keep Ian Stewart and are going to give him a full chance to show what he can do in the first half (which is the right decision); (2) once Matt Garza and Scott Baker come back to the rotation, if Travis Wood is pitching well, the Cubs might have a tough decision; (3) Bruce says, plainly, that the Cubs’ first pick in the draft will be a pitcher (I’m not convinced – I’d say it will either be a pitcher or a positional player; definitely one of the two); (4) Bruce has finally changed his tune on Carlos Marmol, whom he no longer expects to be dealt by Opening Day: “The market for him has not been strong in the last week or 10 days. Unless someone loses a closer or primary set-up man, he might be sticking around a while.”; (5) Bruce doesn’t hear any interest in Soriano coming from the Yankees;
  • Patrick G

    I’m not too sold on Headley. He had a career season last year and prior to that was verrry mediocre. If he can continue his success from last year I am all for it, but I suspect he won’t have the success he had last year

    • Noah

      I don’t think Headley makes much sense for the Cubs due to age and upcoming cost, but check his splits. He looks like he was mediocre before a breakout year because he has played all his home games in the worst hitter’s park in baseball. For his career, at home he is .240/.329/.366. On the road he’s .302/.372/.464. And he plays about 20% of his road games in two of the next least hitter friendly parks in baseball between AT&T and Chavez Ravine.

      Headley’s an elite player who finally got past playing in an awful (for hitters) home park last season. But since Headley will be a free agent after 2014 and will be in line for a big contract heading into his age 31 season, he doesn’t make much sense to the Cubs for me.

      My one caveat for this is if the Cubs end up surprisingly competing this season. Then Headley could make sense mid-season, especially if the Cubs could end up with a 4 to 5 year extension with Headley.

      With that said, I don’t think it happens, because I don’t think the Cubs will be close enough to in the playoff race to make a move like this. I think they’d at least need to be neck and neck with the last wildcard team (within 2-3 games and without a big clump of teams right in that range) to add mid-season.

      Short version: Chase Headley is a really good player whose career numbers have been held down by playing in Petco. But he’s probably not right for the Cubs considering cost and age.

  • MightyBear

    I wonder what the Cubs would have to give up to get Headley? He fits into the long term plan as long as he comes with an extension. I wouldn’t trade for him without an extension. (Castro, Rizzo, Headley would look good for a long time, as long as they don’t have to give up Castro to get him. Shades of Banks, Williams, Santo)

    • terencem

      Headly will be 29 this season. I don’t really think he fits in with the timeline for the youth movement the Cubs are trying to put together. Rizzo will turn 24 in August and Castro is a couple months from being 23.

      • EQ76

        right… that totally contrasts Theo’s statement of getting guys in their prime years when they hit about 26/27 into their 30′s…..

        • Kygavin

          I think Theo will go after Will Middlebrooks. Xander Bogaerts has been playing 3B in the WBC and if the Sox decide to move him there permanently, they would have no where for Middlebrooks.

          (This all goes out the window if Bogaerts stays at SS…..)

  • TWC

    “Bruce says … the Cubs’ first pick in the draft will be a pitcher (I’m not convinced – I’d say it will either be a pitcher or a positional player; definitely one of the two) …”

    Can we quote you on that?

    • hansman1982

      When they draft a bullpen coach we will get to say:

      “NEENER NEENER BRETT WAS WRONG”

      and dance around with socks on our head.

      • frank

        With his success in the bunt tournament, the Video Dude may get some tempting contract offers. Theo and Jed may have to draft a new Video Dude.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      (That was the joke.)

      • TWC

        (So was my reply.)

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          (I just wanted to be clear for others who may be less subtle.)

          • EQ76

            (let’s put everything in parentheses)

            • Jono

              All CAPS IS BETTER

              • DarthHater

                (ANYTHING WORTH DOING IS WORTH DOING TO EXCESS)

                • Jono

                  Whoa, man. You just took it too far

                  • DarthHater

                    Good thing I didn’t follow through on my plan to also include brackets…

                • DB KYLE

                  (IT’S LIKE DOUBLE CRUISE CONTROL FOR COOL)

    • The Other Matt

      I have to say, if they don’t draft either a pitcher or positional player, I’m going to have to jump off the TheoCo bandwagon…

  • THEOlogical

    Hey Brett, you forgot to cover your bases and say DH. The Cubs could easily pick a pitcher, positional player or DH. Although my guess is one of the first two.

  • JR

    Just curious on others thoughts. Would a Baez for Headley deal be close? Too much? Not enough? I am not an expert, but I dislike that hitch in Baez’s swing like too.

    • http://flawedcast.net/wtny/ Nate Corbitt

      I would guess that aside for someone like Stephen Strasburg or Bryce Harper, Baez isn’t going anywhere.

      • DB Kyle

        Baez isn’t nearly in that class.

        I’ll just sort of again remind people that Epstein had access to two elite shortstops in his time in Boston, and both got traded.

        • JR

          Kyle, so you’re saying Baez wouldn’t be nearly enough for Headley? Chase is going to get PAID soon. Obviously Headley is much more of a sure thing than Baez, but you have to consider their contracts too. I don’t think it’s that ridiculous.

          • DB Kyle

            No, I’m saying Baez isn’t an “”only Harper or Strasburg” level guy. Still big questions about his hit tool as he faces more advanced pitching.

            Baez for Headley is fine value-wise, but it wouldn’t make sense for this team right now unless they were willing to make other moves simultaneously to push the team toward immediate contention. It’s a November move, not a March move, for us. Not that I’d complain too hard if it happened.

            • JR

              Ok, I hear ya. Obviously the Cubs don’t care about winning this year, and want a top 10 pick. But if they are going to finally try and make the playoffs next year (which they better be) they sure as hell need to improve their Major league talent. Pretty much all the good players they have are at least 2 years away.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              The Padres could do a lot better than just Baez for Headley.

        • Boogens

          “I’ll just sort of again remind people that Epstein had access to two elite shortstops in his time in Boston, and both got traded.”

          If Hanley Ramirez is one of the two elite SS that you’re referring to please remember that Theo was on sabbatical when that trade was made. He didn’t engineer that one.

  • matt

    I wonder what the Cubs would draft if they didn’t draft a pitcher or a positional player

    • Kygavin

      I heard they were in the market for a kicker or a punter…..

      • frank

        A placekicker like Kyle Farnsworth?

    • DB Kyle

      Both, like Brooks Kieschnick?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      (That was the joke.)

    • Don

      I’d rather take our chances that Baez will be a star someday and wait for that day, than trade for Headley. I’m all for staying with the Plan! Watching Baez, Soler and Almora in practice this week has me even more excited about the Cubs future!!

  • cerambam

    I’d say it will either be a pitcher or a positional player; (definitely one of the two)

    haha

  • Kygavin

    I just dont see the Padres moving Headley until they are sure Gyorko cant stick at 2B. If he is even passable at 2B, then they have no real motivation to move Headley. Plus the Cubs would be buying after a peak season, just doesnt have the right value as far as Im concerned. Would much rather use Vitters/Stewart until Baez is ready to be the 3B of the future

  • cerambam

    ahhh damn you matt you beat me to it.

  • Chad

    Headley has been great. He has had a few good years and it seems he is coming into his prime right now. Here are his stats: http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/stats/_/id/28809/chase-headley

    Just remember that he plays in San Diego which is not very hitter friendly.

    • hansman1982

      Be a better man, don’t use ESPN for stats. Use Baseball-Reference.com, FanGraphs.com or StatCorner.com

      • RickyP024

        Does it really matter?

        • http://ehanauer.com clark addison

          Between Baez, Lake, and Candalerio the Cubs have lots of low cost 3b options for 2014 and beyond. No sense paying big bucks for Headley’s declining years.

          • DB Kyle

            Only one of those guys is likely to be a 3b if they make it to the majors. Lake is more likely an outfielder and Candelario is almost certainly a 1b.

  • Curt

    hey Brett if be interested in the reasoning behind keeping Stewart and why it’s the right thing I doubt he’s thd answer long term, and if the cubs are going to not be good why not save the money, just sayin.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Because it’s a small amount of money to “gamble” on the small chance that he returns to his pre-wrist problem form. If he does, and he’s an .800 OPS guy who plays above-average defense (and is under team control for another year after this one), he becomes one hell of a great trade chip in this third base market (or the Cubs could keep him).

      • TWC

        No kidding. Everyone’s all bent out of shape on Stewart’s salary. It’s such small potatoes (±0.4 WAR) that it doesn’t take much to make it “worth” it.

        (It remains to be seen if he’s actually capable of that though.)

        • Kygavin

          Even if he doesnt return to form what exactly was lost? the Cubs traded a backup IF and a platoon OF and people act like its the Lou Brock trade. Id rather take a shot on Stewart regaining his form than watch Vitters struggle his way through a season when he isnt ready or have Valbuena be the starting 3B

          • DB Kyle

            The issue isn’t who we gave up. The issue is that we wasted one year and possibly another with him as our 3b.

            • Kygavin

              How is it wasted? The Cubs arent a good team and who in the organization, or even outside via free agency, is a better option?

              • DB Kyle

                Didn’t I predict this response word-for-word yesterday?

                If you don’t believe, as our front office does, that every season is a chance to win, then there’s no waste. But if you believe, as they and I do, that every season is a chance to win, then it’s a waste to put a likely useless player in a starting job on the exceedingly slim chance that he overcomes the multiple obstacles between him and adequacy.

                • Kygavin

                  If this was an 80 win team I would agree with that, but a 70-75 win team what is the harm in buying low on a guy who if healthy can hit 20 HR and play good D?

                  Also you didnt answer who would be a better alternative from inside the organization or as a FA?

                  • DB Kyle

                    It’s only a 70-75 win team because we keep making decisions like Ian Stewart. You can’t justify bad decisions by saying they made so many bad decisions that no single good decision could have overwhelmed then.

                    As to who was better, I’ve listed the alternatives many times. I believe one time I got through a list of 25 that included Gary Gaetti and the half-planted corpse of Ron Santo.

                    • Kygavin

                      What other “bad decisions” did they make? The guys they gave up in the trade wouldnt be anymore help to this team that Stewart and at least Stewart has a chance to play everyday unlike Colvin/DJ

                      And since Theo took over here are the FA 3B’s:
                      2011:http://espn.go.com/mlb/freeagents/_/year/2011/position/3b
                      2012:http://espn.go.com/mlb/freeagents/_/position/3b

                      I dont see anyone on that list who offers more value to the Cubs than a healthy Stewart does

                    • DB Kyle

                      I don’t think this board needs yet another chorus of “here’s all of Epstein’s mistakes,” though I do know the lyrics pretty well by now and it’s got a catchy tune.

                      There’s no such thing as a healthy Ian Stewart, so there’s no point in talking about that unicorn’s value.

                • Jono

                  They only say that to save face and keep a few more butts in the seats

        • DB Kyle

          WAR/$ isn’t linear like that. Paying the generic market price for fractional WAR players is a huge waste of money.

          • TWC

            I understand that. I only used the $/WAR comparison to attempt to illustrate how little $2m is to the bottom line. I would suggest that the bigger hit to the team is/was the roster spot and the playing time.

      • DB Kyle

        The money isn’t the issue (though it’s a small issue). The roster and the starting spot are scarce resources, moreso than payroll.

        • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

          Which is why they explored other 3B options in free agency and trade before settling on Stewart. The other options were shiiiiiiitty.

          • DB Kyle

            Unforutnately, shiiiiiiiitty and better than Ian Stewart are not mutually exclusive.

            • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

              Right. But if the Cubs think the options might be close in shiiiiiittiness, and think Stewart’s upside is much higher (even if very unlikely), he’s the obvious choice. I don’t think anyone will argue that the Cubs should have retained Stewart because he was *expected* to be good.

              • DB Kyle

                If the Cubs think that, they should stop thinking that and think better, more accurate things :)

                I’m a little tired of having to hear how our best front office in baseball can’t be expected to provide us with good baseball players because it’s hard. If they can’t do things that are hard, then why are they the best?

                • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

                  To the latter point, as I’ve said before, I don’t think they’re really interested in pushing to win this year, so that informs all of this. They say what they say about 2013 because it’s at least partly true (everyone likes a happy surprise), and because they have to. If you got them off the record in private? I think they’d say 2014 is, and was always, the first targeted potentially competitive year.

                  • DB Kyle

                    I’m honestly not sure why so many people think 2014 is “the year.”

                    If we’re taking the interpretation of their actions the way some want to, it seems like 2015 or 2016 makes more sense.

                    • hansman1982

                      If contention follows a roughly smooth curve, I think Brett’s point is that 2014 would be at the beginning of that curve, 2015-2016 would get you closer to the meat, 2017-2020 would be the peak of the curve.

                      From there, the FO hopes to have the next dip be a couple of years where, while we wouldn’t make the playoffs we wouldn’t be 70 (and lower) wins bad, maybe 2010-2011 Red Sox “bad”.

                      Obviously this is the best case scenario.

                      I do think that 2014 will be the first year were Theo/Jed add or at least don’t fire sale 40% of the rotation in July.

                      If we use this deadline to acquire a long-term corner OF, 3B and/or SP that will go a long way to boosting the 2014 team past .500.

                    • MJ

                      2014….

                      More old, bad money will be off the books.

                      They’ll know more about the kiddos down on the farm.

                      They’ll know more about the big league core of Castro, Rizzo, Samardzija, etc.

                      The renovation situation will be resolved.

                      They’ll be on the eve of a new TV deal.

                      They’ll know what revenue streams will be available to them to add to the payroll.

                      The 100th anniversary of Wrigley Field, the possible rebranding, they’ll want to create some kind of a buzz.

                      There is a plan in place. Until it all comes together, I think people are willing to let 2013 be what it’s going to be. If they’re a surprise contender, fantastic. If not, they’ve already informed the public of what to expect.

                    • DB Kyle

                      Anything’s possible, but it still feels to me like 2014 is being selected more as a “close enough not to make me mad, far enough away to account for their failures this year” sort of date.

                      “More old, bad money will be off the books.”

                      There’s barely any left now. Marmol. I guess you could say Soriano, but he’s been pretty productive recently.

                      “They’ll know more about the kiddos down on the farm.”

                      Who still almost certainly won’t be impact-level ready.

                      “They’ll know more about the big league core of Castro, Rizzo, Samardzija, etc.”

                      They should pretty much know all they need to know now.

                      “The renovation situation will be resolved.”

                      Maybe.

                      “They’ll be on the eve of a new TV deal. They’ll know what revenue streams will be available to them to add to the payroll.”

                      “There is a plan in place.”

                      Reference to Joker quote yet again.

                  • MJ

                    Well, whatever doesn’t kill DB Kyle, simply makes him stranger. :)

                    • DarthHater

                      or douchier, anyway.

                    • DB Kyle

                      I’m on a five-year plan to get increasingly douchy and culminate in a long period of sustained douchebaggery.

                    • DarthHater

                      And what would you call the period we have been going through for the last year or two?

                    • DB Kyle

                      A redouching project.

                    • DarthHater

                      At least you’re a guy with a plan. That makes me feel better.

                    • DB Kyle

                      You wouldn’t believe how easy it is to get people, especially Cubs fans, to accept terrible douchiness so long as you convince them it’s all part of the plan.

                    • DarthHater

                      Cub fans will put up with anything, regardless of whether there’s a plan or not.

                    • Dale’s Ear

                      learned helplessness, there’s really nothing we can do about it

                    • DarthHater

                      I have joined the Bleacher Nation and have taken the name Tania:

                      [img]http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/guerrilla/timeline/images/t_1974_4.jpg[/img]

    • Rebuilding

      *Ahem* How about Aramis Ramirez? The guy with a 6.5 WAR and .900 OPS last year that we let walk for 3/36. Perfect contract length to bridge to Baez

      • hansman1982

        Aramis would have been nice but the contract would have probably had to guarrantee him his 4th year. 3/36 would have been nice, had the contract been that for the Cubs but he had to want to play for the Cubs at a lesser contract than the Brewers gave him (with is a 3/36 with a 4th year mutual option at $14M with a $4M buyout so it really is a 3/40 contract with the potential to be a 4/50).

        My gut says Ramirez was done with Chicago.

        • Rebuilding

          You may be right, but I seem to remember at the time Ramirez was just upset that the Cubs showed no interest in re-signing him. At $5 mil per 1 WAR Ramirez literally earned $32.5mil of that contract just last year. Granted it was his best year out of the last three, but to put it in perspective he was only 0.6 WAR behind Miguel Cabrera (7.1) last year?! Given the absolute mess 3b has been for the Cubs I think Ramirez walking would have to be labeled a mistake

  • Dustin S

    They did pretty well with the Camp pickup last year, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see them take another chance on a reliever castoff again. Unless someone really exceptional comes around I don’t see any open position spots though on the big-leage roster. Even the bullpen could start to get little crowded when Baker comes back in mid-April. But for sure there might be some pickups for Iowa, especially for a power hitting 1B like Cooper. This team would be hurting offensively in a way that hurts my head to think about if Rizzo goes down.

  • Die hard

    Did the Royals release Moscoso to make room for Marmol?

    • TWC

      No.

      HTH.

      • Die hard

        They were scouting him last yr and now one under 40

  • Fastball

    Off the scrap heap I hope we can find a better utility infielder than Lillebridge. I think we can still some upgrading in the bench player department. Any decent pitching is worth signing and sticking them at Iowa on a minor league contract no 40 man roster guys unless someone unbelievable gets released. I don’t see that happening. Pitching is so hard to find. I don’t think we need another guy who is old like Camp. I would rather they find some 24 – 28 year olds who are new pitching instructor can fix.

  • Morken

    While consideration should always be given to the best player regardless of position, in all likelihood, the Cubs will be drafting a starting pitcher with their first pick.

  • Tarzan Joe

    the right choice was to never trade for stewart. the 2nd right choice was not to re-sign him. the 3rd right choice is to release him by the 16th. all of this so Jed can prove he wasn’t a complete fool making the trade to begin with. those that do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. i.e. Ian Stewart.

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