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.
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.
I know I like to write and talk a lot about the Cubs future. I keep focusing on this hope that Theo & Co will put together not only a World Series Championship, but build a dynasty with multiple championships. Maybe it gets old to some and amuses others, but I truly believe we are building a foundation to grow on.
Over the last week, the Cubs have traded a minor league player to the Astros, Carlos Marmol to the Dodgers and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. These trades allowed the Cubs some flexibility for the international signing pool as well as getting rid of Marmol. Theo & Co. are on pace to exceed that maximum amount allowed this year in the international pool and may be penalized for next year’s pool. I’m good with that if it’s true that we are getting 2 of the top international players in Eloy Jiminez (OF) and Gleyber Torres (SS).
Add the international signings with the draft strategy that the Cubs are using now that Jim Hendry is gone. Speaking of Hendry, remember the 2010 1st Round Pick, Hayden Simpson? Well, he has already been released from the independent Frontier League Southern Illinois Miners. He pitched 7.1 innings and was unfortunately lit up. His ERA was 15.95 with more walks than strikeouts. Anyway, Theo & Co. are drafting with a strategy for the long haul in my opinion. I like the direction the team is going. Hopefully, we can sign Kris Bryant, our 1st Round Pick this year, soon.
Add these drafted players along with our international signings and I expect the Cubs to have one of the highest rated minor league systems in all of baseball. Hopefully, that will eventually translate to wins at the Major League level.
In addition to the moves the moves that have already been made the Cubs still have Matt Garza, Kevin Gregg, Alfonso Soriano and a handful of other players that are likely to get traded this month. It will be interesting to see what happens.
Bottom line, I like the direction the Cubs are going. I’m not completely sold on Theo’s approach, but I’m hopeful that it will work.
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.
The off-season is about to heat up with next week’s Winter Meetings looming and the Cubs are positioning themselves with some minor moves and rumors.
First, we will not have Greg Maddux back in the organization next year. He has left us for a similar job with the Texas Rangers and will be a part of the same organization as his brother Mike. Way to go Theo! First Sandberg and now Maddux!!!!! We could have had both Maddux brothers…..oh well. You better start making some good moves soon and definitely put together a winning team!
Next, it appears we have signed outfielder, David DeJesus, to play right field for the Cubs in 2012 and 2013. I actually like DeJesus and hope he’s healthy and plays well.
It’s also been rumored that the Cubs are actually interested Pujols and Fielder. I guess Theo realizes that there won’t be any big time sluggers available for a while and with the new CBA, his ideas of rebuilding through the draft may have changed a bit. I am in support of going after either of these players. Even if we don’t sign them I hope we can at least drive the price up.
Overall, Theo has his work cut out for him. Cubs fans, myself included, want to win now. We know we have a lot of money coming off the books and expect this new regime to work miracles. In all reality, I feel next season will be a rebuilding year and I have no problem with that as long as we position ourselves to be competitive in 2013. However, I am also rooting for a miracle season in 2012.
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!