Tagged: Jeff Samardzija

RICK RENTERIA, JEFF SAMARDZIJA AND MORE

Two weeks ago I wrote about the new To Do List for the Cubs this off-season. Well, the Cubs have checked off the first item on that list, hire a new manager. I had a feeling it would be Rick Renteria and I was correct (for the first time).  He was not my first choice, but with Theo & Co., I am beginning to see a pattern.  They are wanting coaches that they are already familiar with and have some sort of previous relationship.  From October 2009 to October 2011, Jed Hoyer was the GM of the San Diego Padres.  Renteria was a coach with the Padres during that time.   There’s your connection!  I’m hoping it works out better than Dale Sveum did.

Yesterday, I mentioned that the Cubs could be trading Jeff Samardzija to the Arizona Diamondbacks.  The Cubs still have two years of control on Samardzija’s contract.  He will not be a free agent until 2016 at the earliest and he will turn 29 in January.  He has the potential to bring in a decent haul if traded.  I’m not naive enough to think he would bring as much as the Matt Garza trade did in 2011 for the Rays, but I think it would be close.  I took a quick look at Arizona’s top 20 prospects.  I think the Cubs could land 2-3 of these players in a deal.  I’m not sure which ones it would be and it is too early for me to make a guess.  I plan on keeping an eye on this over the next month and see what happens.

Finally, on January 22, 2011, I wrote a blog and an email to the MLB Network with some ideas for programming.  One of those ideas was to start showing Arizona Fall League games.  I also included the Caribbean League.  Well, lately, the MLB Network has been showing the AFL and I love it!  I have watched it with my 6 year old son and was able to enjoy seeing some of the young names you hear about in baseball today.  Plus, I have seen Albert Almora and Jorge Soler this week as well.  That’s a plus for me.

TRADING SAMARDZIJA?

One of my favorite players on the Cubs is Jeff Samardzija.  I feel like he has the potential to be a really good pitcher.  He will turn 29 in January and hasn’t reached that full potential yet.  Unfortunately, it seems that Theo & Co. are willing to trade the former Notre Dame two sport star.

I read, once again, that Arizona is interested in Samardzija.  I have no clue what the Cubs are asking nor what the D’Backs are even offering.  All I know is I would rather not make this trade.

NOW THE OFF-SEASON BEGINS

Congratulations to the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals as champions of their respective leagues.  The World Series was a good one which I felt the umpires did an excellent job.  In the end, the Red Sox were able to win their first World Series at home since 1918.  Congrats to Boston and their fans.

Now, it’s time to begin the off-season and it’s going to be an exciting one.  Some of the big names in free agency are Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-soo Choo and Brian McCann. There are also several names being floated around already in trade rumors.  The Angels’ Mark Trumbo, Dodgers’ Andre Ethier, Rays’ David Price and the Reds’ Brandon Phillips.

I really don’t see the Cubs making any major moves after any of those names as of today.  The Cubs will probably have another season of spending on guys like Edwin Jackson or David DeJesus.  I don’t see Theo & Co. trading the farm away for someone like David Price either.  Instead, I think Rick Renteria will be the next manager and there will be a few minor moves after that, but nothing earth shattering.

There is also the issue of Jeff Samardzija.  Do we sign a contact extension or do we go to arbitration?  Or does he get traded?  This is one player I will be watching closely.

I’m already looking forward to the winter meetings so I can learn what direction the Cubs will be heading this off-season.

WHO’S NEXT

Theo & Co. have been busy.  Feldman, Marmol, Hairston, Clevenger and a minor league player have all been traded.  The two most notable names the Cubs have received are starting pitcher Jake Arrieta (27) and relief pitcher Pedro Strop (28) as well as relief pitcher Matt Guerrier, money for the International Signing Pool and a minor league pitcher.

I think Matt Garza will probably be next, but I would love for the Cubs to keep him.  A healthy Garza combined with Travis Wood and Jeff Samardzija make a solid core to a starting rotation.  The Cubs pen has been horrendous this year and the Cubs lead all the Majors in 1 run losses.  Alfonso Soriano has heated up in July with 4 homers and a .321 batting average for the month as of today.  So, it may be time to ship the veteran.  And there are always a ton of other players that could be dealt.

No matter who is traded, it is obvious that the Cubs are getting younger and continue to decrease their payroll while strengthening the minor league system.  Who knows, maybe this winter we will spend some of that money that Theo & Co. have saved up.

Forgotten Cub?

There’s been a lot of talk this off-season about several different players involving the Chicago Cubs.  Matt Garza, Carlos Zambrano, Prince Fielder, Alfonso Soriano and Anthony Rizzo have all received a ton of media attention surrounding the Cubs.  All of them deserved that attention as well.  However, one Cub I have read or heard little about this winter is RHP Jeff Samardzija.  So, here’s my tribute to the “Shark”.

He’s just turned 27 just a few days ago, so belated “Happy Birthday”!  I felt the Cubs organization really messed up the progression of his development early in his career.  In 2008, he was a late season call up and had decent success posting 2.28 ERA in 27.2 innings pitched as a reliever.  That was after making 21 starts between AA & AAA.  In 2009, Samardzija made 17 starts for AAA Iowa and pitched 34.2 innings with the Cubs primarily as a reliever with the big league team posting a 7.53 ERA.  He did manage to to make 2 starts for the Cubs in 2009 as well.  In 2010, the Cubs had him both start and pitch from the bullpen in Iowa and with the Cubs.  If you haven’t noticed, the Cubs couldn’t decide  whether to make him a starter or reliever.  I believe this hurt his progression.  Plus, he did bounce back and forth from Iowa to Chicago.  Last year, 2011, the Cubs defined his role as a full time reliever and he had his most successful season yet.  He pitched 88 innings with 87 strikeouts and a 2.97 ERA.  I think he will only get better and will build off this season.  While there is a part of me that still thinks he could convert back to the starting rotation, I believe he is best suited for the bullpen and could eventually become a closer making Carlos Marmol available to trade.  The reason I even bring up Marmol is the fact he has control issues with the strike zone and his delivery makes me think that Tommy John surgery is a part of his future.

In 2012, I look for Samardzija to work as a setup man and middle reliever.  If he can put together another strong season I would be extremely pleased.  Remember, he’s still young and valuable.

SOME GOOD STUFF

Wow, I’m upset that I wasn’t able to stay up for the entire game last night.  I fell asleep somewhere in the bottom of the 7th inning.  When you get up at 5:00AM everyday, those late night games are a struggle to watch.  But I did get to see Carlos Pena smash his first homer.  I hope that opens up the flood gates and he starts ripping them on a regular basis like he’s capable of. 

Another good thing I’ve been seeing lately is the hitting of Geovany Soto.  The catcher is only hitting .239, but he’s hit 4 doubles in the last 3 games and is hitting the ball hard and taking it to right field.  If he keeps hitting the way he has lately I think his average and power numbers will increase greatly for the month of May.  
Finally, Ryan Dempster did not get the win last night.  Yet, he looked great!!!  He pitched 7 strong innings giving up only 1 run against Ethier, Kemp and the Dodgers.  Kerry Wood pitched a scoreless 8th inning for the win and Marmol got the save.  Niether Wood nor Marmol walked anyone or even gave up a hit.  The Cubs also played good defensively not making any errors.  That’s the perfect recipe for winning ballgames.  Let’s hope this continues!
One last thing I forgot to mention.  Jeff Samardzija is putting together a solid season.  He has 2 wins, 1 hold and a 2.45 ERA in 18.1 innings pitched.  He still needs to cut down on his walks, but he has been more than effective and hasn’t given up a run since April 12th against the Houston Astros.  
Overall, I am starting to get excited again.  We are finally starting to look like a team that can win more than we lose.

PLAYER DEVELOPMENT

The Cubs are finally beginning to invest some real money into player development now that the Ricketts family has taken over as owners.  This is exciting news for me as a Cubs fan.  If you don’t think player development matters take a look at the New York Yankees.  Derek Jeter was a 1st round draft pick in 1992.  Mariano Rivera was signed as an amateur free agent in 1990.  Andy Pettitte was drafted by the Yankees in the 22nd round of the 1990 draft.  Bernie Williams was signed as an amateur free agent in 1985.  Jorge Posada was drafted in the 24th round of the 1990 draft.  Those players helped form a dynasty in the mid to late 90s. 
 
The Cincinnati Reds are another example of player development paying off without the luxury of a large payroll for expensive free agents that your big market franchises have.  All Star first basemanJoey Votto, was drafted in the 2nd round of the 2002 draft.  Jay Bruce was drafted in the 1st round of the 2005 draft.  Drew Stubbs was a 1st round pick in 2006.  Homer Bailey was a 1st round pick in the 2004 draft.  Johnny Cueto was signed as an amateur free agent in 2004 and Aroldis Chapman was singed as an amateur free agent in 2010.  These players were instrumental in helping the Reds to the playoffs in 2010 and should provide the Reds with a bright future.  The Reds also acquired some quality players through trades in Edinson VolquezBrandon Phillips and Scott Rolen
 
The Cubs have done so-so in the last 10 years in the amateur draft.  In 2001, we drafted Mark Prior in the 1st round, Ryan Theriot in the 3rd round, Sergio Mitre in the 7th round and Geovany Soto in the 11th round.  2002 wasn’t as kind though, but we did manage to draft Randy Wells as a catcher in the 38th round.  In 2003 Ryan Harvey was our 1st round pick and unfortunately he never worked out for us.  We also drafted Jake Fox in the 3rd round, Sean Marshall in the 6th round, Casey McGehee in the 10th round and Tim Lincecum in the 48th round but obviously he didn’t sign with us.  In 2004 our draft didn’t work out too well.  We drafted Mark Pawelek in the 1st round in 2005, but he never panned out.  In 2006 we drafted pretty well.  Tyler Colvin in the 1st, Jeff Samardzija in the 5th, Jeremy Papelbon in the 19th (Jonathan’s brother) and a few others that are still in our system working their way up.  2008 and 2009 seem to be decent drafts for us too, but time will tell.  Most importantly we need to draft well, sign amateur free agents like Carlos Marmol (1999) and develop these players better than we have done in the past.  Combine all of that with the ability to spend a lot of money and the Cubs will hopefully start winning on a regular basis and finally bring home a World Series Championship.