I do this every year. I come up with a “TO DO LIST” for the Cubs. Each year, I am a little ambitious in my list. This year, will be somewhat similar. So, let’s do this!
1. The Cubs need to hire a new manager. Some of the names that have been floated around are Dave Martinez, Rick Renteria, A.J. Hinch, Mike Maddux and Manny Acta. I would prefer Mike Maddux, but I have a feeling the Cubs will go with Rick Renteria. Just think, we could have had Ryne Sandberg a couple of years ago, but Theo & Jed went with Dale Sveum. We see how that worked out!
2. The Cubs have a lot of holes on their roster. Free agency cannot fill all of them realistically. Yet, there are some potential moves that could happen.
Jacoby Ellsbury or Shin-soo Choo are both viable options to sign and become our new leadoff hitter.
3. As much as I like Welington Castillo the idea of signing Brian McCann is enticing. His bat in the lineup as a catcher would be an upgrade. Yet, no matter if the Cubs make a big splash in free agency, we do not have the depth at pitching needed to compete with the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds in the NL Central at this point and time.
4. Trade options. Trading for David Price would cost the farm…..literally! But it is an option. Heck, trade Starlin Castro and Jorge Soler in a deal for him. I know it would take more than just those two, but it is a start. Don’t trade Javier Baez or Albert Almora though. Those two have too much talent to lose.
5. Stay patient and wait til our younger players arrive. Javier Baez, Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant all have high ceilings and are not that far off from playing in the big leagues.
Basically, the Cubs have a lot of money available to spend. It’s hard to believe that the Cubs were 3rd in payroll in 2010 at just under $150 million. Since then the Cubs no longer have to pay the huge contracts for Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Aramis Ramirez, Kosuke Fukudome, Carlos Silva, Alfonso Soriano, Ted Lilly and Derrek Lee. The farm system has been restocked with hitters at every level. Pitching is still a little bit thin, but it is improving. I truly believe the Cubs are not that far off from competing. But it’s going to take some work. The Cubs have too many holes to fill in free agency this off-season. I say let the young players earn their way to the big league roster and get their feet wet. Our infield could have Javier Baez at SS or 3B, Rizzo at 1B, Barney at 2B and Castro at SS or OF. The outfield could consist of Almora CF, Bryant LF or 3B and Soler in RF.
Whatever decisions are made I’m still a Cubs fan. First things first though. Let’s hire a manager. I want Maddux but am predicting Renteria.
The Chicago Cubs haven’t filled the hot corner since the departure of Aramis Ramirez. We’ve used a platoon of Luis Valbuena and Cody Ransom this year. Valbuena is hitting .225 and Ransom .215 as of today. Last year we used Valbuena, Ian Stewart and Josh Vitters. Valbuena led those three players with a .219 average for 2012. So, it’s pretty obvious we haven’t had much production at the hot corner.
However, the future at third is bright…..but who will it be. Here’s some of our minor league players that could end up being our future at third.
Josh Vitters will turn 24 later this month. He was the third overall pick in 2007 out of high school. He has been plagued with injuries this year and that really has hurt his chances despite hitting .289 in triple A Iowa. Last year he had a successful year in Iowa batting .304 with 17 HRs before getting called up. After he was called up, he struggled to hit big league pitching. He finished with a .121 average in 99 at bats. His best chance is to get healthy and have a strong spring training in 2014. Even then I’m not sure if he is our long term answer.
Recently acquired Mike Olt, from the Texas Rangers, is next on the list. He is exactly one year older than Vitters and will turn 25 on August 27th. He was drafted in 2010 in the first round by Texas and has some amazing raw power and a good glove at the hot corner. Unfortunately, he has not hit the ball well in the minors this season despite putting up great numbers in double A in 2012. Supposedly, he has been battling a problem with his eyes that has contributed to his hitting woes this year. I’m hoping this is true because he could be our starter at third next year.
Christian Villanueva, 22, is another third baseman that the Cubs acquired from the Texas Rangers last year. He’s in double A Tennessee this year and has hit 14 homers in 404 at bats with a .260 average. He shows quite a bit of promise, but is a little farther away than Vitters or Olt.
Next on this list is 20 year old Javier Baez. He is currently playing shortstop but could projects as a power bat at the hot corner or a corner outfield slot. He started the year at high A Daytona and earned a promotion to double A Tennessee. He has unbelievable power and bat speed. The 2011 first round pick by the Cubs has hit a combined 28 homers this year between Daytona and Tennessee. He also possess the most speed of any of the players on this list. One concern is his high strikeout rate. That’s something he needs to work on. Also, his glove at SS has been shaky. He’s committed 38 errors so far this summer and that is another reason he could shift to third. One thing is for certain though…..it’s his bat and unbelievable power that will get him to majors.
Finally, this year’s second overall pick is the last player on this list. Kris Bryant, 21, is currently assigned to short season Boise. He’s batting .292 in 48 at bats with 3 homers as of today. He’s another power bat that could end up as a corner outfielder or stay put at third. Either way, there is a lot of promise with Bryant. Also, he won the Golden Spikes Award this year as the best amateur player in the country.
So, there it is. Vitters, Olt, Villanueva, Baez and Bryant. One of these guys will hopefully be our future at third base and be a long term solution.
At the beginning of November I created my wish list for the Cubs this off-season. Here it is and along with a few changes.
Bring Sandberg back to the Cubs organization.
2. Hire a quality manager. We hired Dale Sveum.
Keep Greg Maddux in the front office.
4. Go after Prince Fielder. Sounds like it may happen. We may even go after Pujols.
5. Make offer to Aramis Ramirez (this one goes hand-in-hand with number 4 and I’ll explain later) Does not appear likely.
6. Trade Carlos Zambrano. (Even is he says it won’t happen again I know it will)
7. Trade Alfonso Soriano. Sounds like this could happen.
8. Sign Kerry Wood again or find him a job with the Cubs. Might happen.
9. Strengthen the pitching staff
So two of my wish’s have already been rejected. However, the Cubs may pursue Pujols or Fielder which is a good thing.
There has been a lot of speculation about where Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder will land this winter. While I would love to have either of these players on my team, I think it would be best if the Cubs went for Fielder rather than Pujols. I may sound crazy saying that, but I have several reasons for this decision.
Albert is older than Prince.
Albert will probably “cost” more than Prince.
Prince would be that coveted left handed power bat the Cubs desire.
Those three reasons are enough for me.
If the Cubs were to sign Fielder, I would love to see Aramis Ramirez stay with the team. I realize that would require a multi-year deal and I’m not too excited about the idea of giving ARAM anything over two years. I think he wants at least three years…..so, this probably won’t happen. I think Ramirez is kind of like Robin and Prince would obviously be Batman. I think this dynamic duo would drive in a lot of runs in the Cubs lineup. If the Cubs decide to keep Carlos Pena, then I think it would be foolish to bring Aramis back. He’s not the go to hitter you need in the middle of the lineup. He is an excellent complimentary hitter though. He could provide the protection for someone like Fielder.
If we don’t work out a deal for Ramirez, which sounds realistic, I would love Theo and Co. to look into a possible trade with the Mets for David Wright. I know that would cost the Cubs a lot of talent that we really don’t have, but I would like to “kick” the tires on this idea and see what happens.
Finally, from everything I keep reading it seems that Mike Maddux is the leader for the vacant managing position with the Cubs. I hope he gets the job!
Okay, the Cubs have been busy over the last month. Theo Epstein has been brought in as President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs and he has gotten Jed Hoyer, from the Padres, as the new GM. Theo also landed Jason McLeod as the Director of Scouting and Player Development. These three amigos are tasked with turning a century of losing into a championship contender on a yearly basis. That is an enormous challenge!
Theo and crew has already started by “releasing” Mike Quade from his position as manager of the Cubs. Theo then called up Ryne Sandberg and notified him immediately that he would not be considered for the newly vacated managerial position. I think that was a good thing to do. Don’t lead Ryno on and let him believe he has a chance at the job like happened last year. However, I do hope Theo is able to get Sandberg back into a Cub uniform as a major league coach or minor league manager. I’ve read that the Cardinals are interested in him and that would just kill me. If he took over for the Cards in 2012 and won a World Series……..well, it wouldn’t be a good thing for me.
Anyway, before I worry too much about this worst case scenario, I have to remind myself that Theo realizes knows what he’s doing.
The search for a new manager is underway and I have a feeling that Theo will make a wise and educated choice.
Here is my wishlist for this off-season.
1. Bring Sandberg back to the Cubs organization.
2. Hire a quality manager.
3. Keep Greg Maddux in the front office.
4. Go after Prince Fielder
5. Make offer to Aramis Ramirez (this one goes hand-in-hand with number 4 and I’ll explain later)
6. Trade Carlos Zambrano. (Even is he says it won’t happen again I know it will)
7. Trade Alfonso Soriano
8. Sign Kerry Wood again or find him a job with the Cubs.
9. Strengthen the pitching staff
My goal over my next few posts will be to address all 9 of these items on my personal wishlist. I will also add new ideas to my list when I can come up with something feasible. I look forward to the HOT STOVE season and I plan on blogging about it as much as I can.
I’ve been really busy over the last two weeks. Since my last post, the baseball season ended with excitement. The Rays and Cards came back in the month of September to make the post-season. It was exciting for baseball and even me. I’ve watched as much as I can of the playoffs up to this point. However, I haven’t been able to watch an entire game, yet. Like I mentioned, I have been busy. I am learning that having three children requires a lot of work and time.
As for my Cubs, I am expecting a huge change this off-season. I think Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano won’t be back next season. We will have a new General Manager soon and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ryne Sandberg come back to the organization in a coaching or managing position on the big league team or in the minors. If he isn’t brought back, I expect some other organization to snag him and make him their big league manager.
I keep reading rumors that the Cubs will pursue Theo Epstein. I think that would be a great fit for the Cubs and the Ricketts’ family. We have a lot of money that is coming off the books this year and after next season as well. I believe that Theo would spend that money wisely if he actually becomes the GM for the Cubs. If he doesn’t, I’m fine with that as long as we hire someone soon.
I awoke today to see that Steve Jobs had passed away. I finally bought my first IPOD just a few weeks ago. I absolutely love it. My wife has had one for quite a few years, but I’ve been too cheap to buy one. Glad I finally did. Rest in peace Steve.
What a mess that the Cubs have right now. We aren’t going anywhere this year and probably not next year either. We had the chance to deal Carlos Pena to the Yankees, but decided to keep the great fielding, power bat and .225 average. Starlin Castro was railed on by Bobby Valentine on ESPN recently during a game where the young shortstop was lackadaisical on the field. Veterans Ryan Dempster and Aramis Ramirez have options for 2012 for $14 million and $16 million respectively. That’s a lot of money for a couple of guys in their mid 30s. Quade keeps getting ejected from games…6 for season now and it’s obvious that he is frustrated with this team’s performance. The bottom line is that this team is a mess and it’s going to take a while to clean it up.
Now for the good news! Starlin Castro and Darwin Barney seem to be a potentially really good double play combo for the next few years. Andrew Cashner may be be joining the Cubs in September after suffering a rotator cuff injury in April. Brett Jackson, Cashner, Chris Carpenter and Trey McNutt are some of our younger players scheduled to play in the Arizona Fall League this year. Tony Campana has had a positive impact on the Cubs this summer and has a strong chance of making the team in 2012. Tyler Colvin has been getting regular playing time and has hit the ball hard despite having a terrible average. Matt Garza is pitching much better than his record would indicate too.
Even with all our troubles we have a lot to look forward to. It’s just going to take a little time. I hope the Cubs are patient and make the right moves with our players and future General Manager.