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.
First, I want to let everyone know something. I like to refer to Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod as “Theo & Co.” Theo is the former GM of the Red Sox, Jed Hoyer was his assistant GM in Boston and Jason McLeod was the scouting director of the Red Sox. These guys were working together in 2007 when they originally drafted Anthony Rizzo. Since then Jed & Jason went to San Diego and Theo came to Chicago. Shortly after that, Theo was able to bring Jed & Jason to the NorthSide and begin working on the building a World Series Champion in the Chicago Cubs.
The work has been slow and methodical. There have been plenty of trades, waiver moves and free agent signings. Andrew Cashner was traded in a deal to bring Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs….a move I was initially skeptical of. Theo & Co. made me upset when trading Tyler Colvin for Ian Stewart in a deal with the Colorado Rockies. While the Rizzo trade has been great, the trade for Stewart has been a flop!
There have been several other trades (too many to mention) as well. Overall, I would give Theo & Co. a B- when grading their trades. Yet, when it comes to free agent signings I will give them a B+ grade. Here are just a few signings: Carlos Villanueva, David DeJesus, Scott Feldman and Nate Schierholtz. I can see all of these players and more being traded in the future as the Cubs continue to build a perennial contender.
Finally, Theo & Co. are working on the upcoming draft. With the #2 overall pick I am confident that the they will draft a pitcher with a high ceiling. I cannot wait to see what they come up with.
I am getting excited! The anticipation is almost like a child waiting for Christmas morning so they can open their presents. Next week’s Winter Meetings have gotten me excited as they do every year. However, this year I expect the Cubs to really be active. I am betting on trades and free agent signings to happen with Theo at the helm. I’m still aggravated that he allowed Greg Maddux to leave and that he didn’t bring back Ryne Sandberg. However, if he can put together a winning team all will be forgiven.
The acquisition of David DeJesus was a great signing. It was an inexpensive move as well. Now we need to strengthen our pitching staff, find a left handed slugger (Prince…maybe) and make some trades.
Speaking of trades, I would love to see the Cubs trade Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano. I doubt we will be able to trade both of these players, but I think we can swap at least one of them. I’m betting that Soriano may be playing for another team in 2012 and it will most likely be in the AL.
I’ve also read that the Cubs may shop Matt Garza around. I really, really like Garza. However, if we are able to get a bountiful return for him then I have no problem letting him go. I don’t see Theo and Hoyer accepting a trade for him without getting 4-5 minor league players in return.
Next week is kind of like a holiday for me. I am a baseball nerd who loves this part of the off-season and cannot wait for it to begin.
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.