The Cubs are Talking to Mark Buehrle? Say What?

Posted by Michael Castillo | 11/16/2011 01:50:00 AM |

Mark Buehrle? Mark Freaking Buehrle? Well, according to Fox Sports baseball reporter Jon Morosi, the Cubs are one of the teams hot on the trail for the former White Sox lefty, even meeting with his agent on Tuesday.

As recently as spring training, Mark Buehrle spoke publicly about the possibility of retirement after the 2011 season. That’s not going to happen. In fact, it’s possible that the free-agent left-hander will sign a contract that rivals the four-year, $56 million deal he signed in 2007.

Buehrle is young enough to justifiably ask for a deal of that length. He will be 33 at the start of next season — the same age as Cliff Lee, who has four years left on his contract with the Phillies.

Buehrle isn’t all that much older than fellow free-agent C.J. Wilson, who turns 31 this week, and both lefties are in high demand. Chicago Cubs officials met with Buehrle’s agent on Tuesday — the second time they had done so.
Link: Jon Morosi (FOX Sports)

If I'm Theo Epstein, I'd have trouble giving Buehrle something in the $14 million range. Buehrle has won 13 games in each of the last three seasons, and 10 games in 11 straight, making at least 30 starts in each of those 11 seasons. But, I'm not sure that equates to an exact value at $14 million.

His ERA in 2011 was his best since 2005, but that doesn't change the fact that he's led the league in hits allowed four times since then, including a pretty sour WHIP of 1.403 in 2010.

There's already one pitcher on the Cubs roster that fits into that similar mold, and his name is Ryan Dempster. Is Buehrle a better pitcher than Dempster? Sure. But he's still not worth $14 million. So if Epstein is going to spend that much money on a pitcher, why not make a serious run at Wilson?

Plus, while Buehrle in a Cubs jersey would make skin crawl on the South Side, isn't the sight of him in blue pinstripes a little nauseating?
 

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Among the half dozen or so candidates for the Cubs job, the two best names according to CSN's Patrick Mooney are Dale Sveum and Mike Maddux. Why? Well he equates the job search to the hiring of Terry Francona in Boston and Joe Maddon in Tampa Bay. Both guys were far from upper echelon of managers at the time, but were seen as rising commodities in the managerial world. And both worked. Quite well, too.

Sure, Francona had prior experience in Philadelphia, but Mooney still makes good points that the coach turned manager phenomenon tends to succeed if it's done correctly. [See Ron Roenicke].

Here's a bit of what Mooney had to say about Sveum:

After lasting 12 seasons in the big leagues, Sveum managed Pittsburgh’s Double-A affiliate from 2001-03. He then became Francona’s third-base coach and felt the heat from Boston fans and media for his aggressive decisions to wave in runners.
Sveum understands big-city pressures and has been described as someone who’s embraced statistical analysis. It says something about his value and personality that he worked for three different managers in Milwaukee (as third-base, bench and hitting coach).
Sveum was the interim manager when the Brewers made a playoff run in 2008. He will turn 48 later this month, an age where he can grow into the job, an idea Epstein has suggested for the next leader.
As much as the Cubs have tried to copy the Red Sox model, chairman Tom Ricketts also studied the Brewers before hiring Epstein, the way they’ve been able to produce homegrown impact players and have success in a small market.
CSN Chicago: Patrick Mooney

Wait, what? Ricketts is thinking of modeling after the Brewers? [See Ron Roenicke]. Now, that brings us to  former Brewers coach Mike Maddux, who like my friend Ron Roenicke, has had a history as a highly respected pitching coach over the last several seasons.

There’s a growing acceptance of pitching coaches becoming managers. Hoyer developed a good relationship with Bud Black in San Diego. John Farrell – Boston’s former pitching coach – got good reviews during his first season in Toronto and could have been Francona’s logical replacement if he weren’t under contract.
Epstein views keeping pitchers healthy – and having them perform at a higher level – as the next frontier. Those questions have vexed the entire industry. The Cubs are staring at a huge void in their rotation, and pitching figures to be their biggest need this winter.
In Texas, Maddux and Nolan Ryan pushed their pitching staff. They weren’t afraid to increase workloads and change the culture in a ballpark that was known for offensive fireworks.

Okay, let's not associate Hoyer with the Bud Black hire, but Mooney makes great points despite not mentioning the successful Roenicke. So Maddux would definitely fit into that mold and as Clapp has mentioned on Twitter in the past, could possibly open the door for brother Greg to join the staff.

My only beef with Mike Maddux? The "increased workloads" mention. That just conjures up raw memories of Dusty Baker and Mike Quade. Then again, I'll trust Theo over Hendry or MacFail or Dallas Green or Bill Veeck.


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The Cubs officially began the hunt for the next manager today, as they gave Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin the first interview. As I mentioned yesterday, the Cubs were granted access to Mackanin, who has been in Philly since 2009.

According to Mackanin himself, the interview kicked off last night with a dinner between him, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer. That's where he began to get bombarded by the "Dream Team" front office.

“They put me through the grinder last night and I couldn’t enjoy my dinner,” Mackanin said. “They covered an awful lot of ground in regards to strategy, type of philosophy, things like that.”

Honestly, that's what you like to hear. If the Cubs are going to find the right guy to be at the helm, then they can't leave any stones unturned, and every question possible needs to be asked. Strategy plays a big role here, as evident with the words of Jed Hoyer on Tuesday when he was introduced. The Cubs are going to be built with the goal of manufacturing runs, rather than banking on Ryan Theriot Tyler Colvin to bail the team out with a three-run homer. Mackanin's been tied to a very statistical style of managing, so it serves Epstein and company well to pepper him. 

Now, to play up the feel good vibes, Mackanin is a Chicago native. So, naturally, he tried to win over the media by playing up the Chicago card, and it apparently won over Bruce Levine. Here's how he opened his piece regarding Mackanin's interview, before quoting the interviewee.

Managing the Cubs would be a dream come true for Chicago native Pete Mackanin.
"I grew up in Chicago," Mackanin said Friday. "It would be a thrill to take this Cubs team to the top and be a part of it."

And Muskat...

Mackanin grew up in Chicago, attended Brother Rice High School. He said he had heroes on both sides of town.
“Obviously, now I’m a big Cubs fan,” he said. “It would be really exciting to be part of the Cubs going all the way, to be able to contribute to that and be able to participate in that would be really exciting.”
Link: Carrie Muskat (MLB.com)

There you have it. He's a Cub at heart. Sign him now.


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Cubs to Interview Dale Sveum on Monday

Posted by Michael Castillo | 11/04/2011 04:28:00 PM |



The Cubs will interview Dale Sveum on Monday at Wrigley Field for the daunting task of succeeding Mike Quade. Sveum interviewed with the Red Sox on Wednesday, and has been strongly linked to both clubs.

Sveum may be closer to the Red Sox job, as he previously coached in Boston and was their third base coach when they broke the curse in 2004. Sveum spoke to media after his interview in Boston, sounding very sold on the idea of reuniting with Fenway Park.

"It was the greatest experience I could ever have; we won the World Series in '04," said Sveum, who turns 48 this month. "For being a coach or a staff member or whatever you want to call it, it's the ultimate place you want to be."
Link: ESPN Boston

According to Ken Rosenthal, Sveum is considered the favorite for the Red Sox, but don't forget that Theo Epstein still has a history with Sveum, hiring him as part of Terry Francona's staff for the 2004 season. And you have to think that the Cubs have an advantage of sorts getting the interview after the Red Sox, as they are able to gauge Sveum's interactions with the Boston media, as well as the Chicago media, possibly using it as the basis for some questioning in the interview itself.

Besides his pro-Boston comments, Sveum had some pretty interesting things to say on Wednesday, and even admitted a bit of nervousness regarding his stint as the Brewers skipper. "You never know until you're thrown right into the fire, but then I felt right at home," he said as he addressed the media. With the Brewers, Sveum finished the 2008 season after the sudden firing of Ned Yost, leading (if you call it that given the small sample size) Milwaukee to the playoffs with seven wins in 12 tries as manager, after being promoted from third base coach. Yeah, we heard those same type of comments a year ago with Quade, but Sveum has been highly reputable for a handful of years now since gluing the Brewers back together. Plus,he usually gets his name pronounced correctly, a sign that he's actually thought of. Quade was so off the radar before Lou Piniella stepped down that he was called "Quaid" well into this season from national pundits.

Anyways, it'll be interesting to see how Sveum reacts to the Chicago media, as he won't be able to fawn over past memories, and only get bombarded by Paul Sullivan's asinine questions.

P.S. How is David Kaplan going to feel if there ends up being a-look-a-like running around Chicago in the coming weeks? I mean they kind of look alike, don't they?



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Cubs Granted Interviews with Mike Maddux and Pete Mackanin

Posted by Michael Castillo | 11/03/2011 12:59:00 PM | ,



The first wave of interviews for the Cubs' vacant managerial position are set, as the Cubs have asked for permission to speak to both Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin and Rangers pictching coach Mike Maddux, and have been granted access. 

According to Yahoo!, both Mackanin and Maddux have been cleared to not only interview with the Cubs, but the Red Sox as well. That shouldn't be a suprise as Theo Epstein and Beb Cherington have similar tastes in personnel. For Mackanin, his shot to woo Theo comes on Friday, the first interview in the post-Quade era.

Mackanin has been the Phillies bench coach since 2009, and so both candidates have been on the losing end of the World Series in each of the last three seasons combined. 

As for other names thrown into the ring? According Comcast SportsNet's Patrick Mooney, Epstein says that Tito might actually have a chance. "Francona would be on top of anyone's list, and wouldn't need to be interviewed, but both sides would have to decide it's a fit."

Dale Sveum is also a big target for both the Cubs and Red Sox, but he has yet to be tabbed for an interview from either club.

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The Theo regime is upon us, and it didn't take long for him and his brain trust to take care of the most obvious change in the Cubs offseason, as Theo and company informed Mike Quade that he will not return for 2012.

We all knew it was going to happen. Quade knew, Theo knew, and heck ESPN knew as they included the Cubs job on a poll asking America to vote for the most attractive managerial vacancy earlier this week. Yet, despite the fact that we all knew, you have to give credit to Theo Epstein for handling it the way he did, with tremendous class.

Theo and Hoyer met with Quade for a full day last week, and Theo personally flew down to Florida to inform Quade of the Cubs' decision. That's the absolute definition of class, especially after there had been reports that Quade was out of the loop after the season.

So where to the Cubs go from here? Well the quick answer is not in the direction of Ryne Sandberg. Here's what Epstein said in his press release, all but eliminating the former Cubs great:

The next manager must have leadership and communication skills; he must place an emphasis on preparation and accountability; he must establish high standards and a winning culture; he must have integrity and an open mind; and he must have managerial or coaching experience at the major league level.

As Bruce Levine points out, he has all but one of the qualities, missing the most important one. To add salt to the wounds, the Cardinals have now asked the Phillies to speak to Sandberg, to which the Phillies have granted permission, per Ken Rosenthal.

The early vibe coming out of Wrigley is thatthe Cubs' short list includes Dale Sveum and DeMarlo Hale. Sveum righted the Brewers' ship in 2008 after the firing of Ned Yost, and according to Jon Heyman, is also one of the favorites for the Red Sox position, ironically signaling an Epstein vs. Cherington battle of sorts. That's where Hale comes into play, as he has served as the Red Sox bench since 2006. Heyman also pointed out Mike Maddux, but he's yet to gain managerial experience at the major league level.

The offseason still is only beginning.

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The Cubs finalized their front office on Tuesday, as President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein introduced new General Manager, Jed Hoyer, and Senior VP of Scouting and Development, Jason McLeod. All three had rather interesting things to say, with Hoyer and McLeod continuously emphasizing the need for building the club from the bottom, through the draft and with scouting and development.

The notion of the "Cubs Way" was prevalent in Epstein's presser a week ago, and thankfully is far more intelligent and coherent than the Ricketts' version: "A Way of Life". As McLeod alluded to, the Red Sox teams that they assembled through amateur scouting were remarkable, which proves that a franchise-wide model for scouting talent and addressing development works.

Just in case you missed it, here's the full video of press conference from Wrigley Field, via Comcast SportsNet.



Afterwards, Hoyer joined David Kaplan, David Haugh, Paul Sullivan, and Todd Hollandsworth on Chicago Tribune Live. Here, Hoyer emphasized the need for the "Cubs Way" to be more focused on manufacturing runs, rather than relying on a three-run homer, like the Cubs have notoriously relied on for decades. He also is bombarded by Kaplan's questions on Zambrano and Soriano, and never denies the possibility of the Cubs cutting ties with the high priced duo. Here's the full segment:



Now, other than Sullivan's signature douchey questions, what's not to love about hearing Hoyer talk about his plans? The Cubs are finally in good hands.

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Gordon Wittenmyer is reporting that the Cubs chose to exercise their 2012 $16 million option for Aramis Ramirez. However, it's a mutual option, and Ramirez will reportedly decline it, in hopes of finding a deal for more years from a team in free agency.

After making it sound like there's no way way he'd be a Cub in 2012 just a few months ago, Ramirez recently said that he'd be open to returning to the team, as he likes the changes that are occurring in the front office(not sure if you heard but they have a new President of Baseball Operations, General Manager, and other fun stuff), and the direction the organization appears to be headed.

Exercising the $16 million option was a no-brainer for the Cubs. Ramirez has made it known that he intended to test the free agent waters, as he'd like to sign a wealthy multiple year deal with a team while he still can(he'll be 34 next June). If he were to sign with another team, the Cubs will now get compensatory draft picks in return.

Had he exercised the option, well, having a .900 OPS-ish third baseman around at $16 million for a year certainly wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. And had he exercised the option and the Cubs chose to decline it, they would've had to pay him a $2 million buyout.

Do I think Ramirez will sign a new deal with the Cubs? No. Theo talks over and over about wanting to build for a 5-7 year run, rather than just "going for it" for the following season or two. The Cubs are, in all likelihood, at least a couple of years away from competing, and Ramirez will be in his late 30s by that point.

Additionally, the Cubs at the moment have arguably the worst defensive roster in baseball, and Theo is a huge believer in good defense. Ramirez was dreadful defensively this season, and that's certainly not going to improve with his quickness and reactionary time at the hot corner only to diminish with his age.

Instead, look for the Cubs to find a cheaper option for third base in free agency(Edwin Encarnacion maybe?), or see what's out there in the trade market.

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Yep, That's a Cubs Shirt...in St. Louis

Posted by Michael Castillo | 10/27/2011 11:48:00 PM


Unless you are living underneath a rock, you know what happened during Game 6 of the World Series. So with the Cardinals' David Freese being the hero in both the ninth and eleventh inning, the latter coming via the home run, it was fitting that the game-winning ball would be a must-have for Freese. Naturally, he gave the fan who caught the bomb a signed bat and a picture with him and his friend.


Yeah. So this guy's buddy may have one-upped Woo Woo for the title of most embarrassing Cubs fan. Seriously, bro?




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Cubs Fans: Here's Your New ID (Obstructed View)

It's been no secret that Theo Epstein planned to have the Padres' Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod join him in the Cubs' front office. And just a day after Epstein's introductory press conference was held at Wrigley Field, the Cubs made the hirings of Hoyer and McLeod official:

The Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres jointly announce today that Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod will leave the Padres, effective immediately, to accept positions with the Cubs. The Cubs have agreed to send the Padres a player to be named later as compensation.

Both the Cubs and the Padres intend to hold press conferences after the World Series. The Cubs intend to announce Hoyer as Executive Vice President/General Manager and McLeod as Senior Vice President/Scouting and Player Development, while the Padres intend to announce Josh Byrnes as Hoyer's successor.
Source: Cubs.Com

As you can see in that excerpt, the Cubs will send the Padres compensation. The compensation will be one player, which is believed to be a low-level minor leaguer.

Hoyer became the Padres' general manager in 2009, and immediately hired McLeod to his staff to be assistant general manger. This is after the two worked under Epstein for many years with the Red Sox, and were members of the Boston front office during the 2004 and 2007 World Series title years. They're each very good friends of Epstein, and come from the same baseball school of thought as him.

Oneri Fleita(Vice President of Player Personnel/Farm Director) and Tim Wilken(Scouting Director) will keep their jobs in the Cubs' front office, and will report to McLeod(who will report to Hoyer). The Cubs have had one of the smallest front offices in baseball, and Epstein wants a very large group. The more good baseball minds around, the better.

Much will be made about Hoyer's job title, as the general manager is traditionally the one responsible for transactions, working the phones, etc. But let's be honest- Epstein is essentially the general manager. Epstein's going to be in charge of what goes down, although he may save much of the day-to-day "general manager" duties for Hoyer. But any significant decisions will ultimately be made by Epstein. I view Hoyer as Epstein's "assistant" again, but had he left a "general manager" job with the Padres for an "assistant general manager" title with the Cubs, that would've made him look bad.

Hoyer won 90 games in his first season as the general manager with the Padres, after the team won just 75 games the year before. Of course, they won just 72 games this season, but that was after he was forced to trade away Adrian Gonzalez(to Epstein and the Red Sox, fittingly) because the team did not have the money to keep Gonzalez long term.

McLeod's draft history while with Boston was extremely impressive. Players selected during his time there include Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholz, Daniel Bard, Jed Lowrie, and Justin Masterson. In McLeod's first four seasons with the Red Sox, Baseball America ranked the Red Sox's drafts in the top five three times.

Additionally, Baseball America's Jim Callis says that the Padres' farm system will be ranked in the top five or so in baseball when their rankings are released in the winter. With Epstein, Hoyer, and McLeod now aboard, you have to like the Cubs' chances of getting a similar ranking over the next few years.

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Facepalm. I'm so embarrassed.

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Swag

Posted by Matt Clapp | 10/25/2011 04:30:00 PM | , , ,


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Comcast SportsNet New England's Sean McAdam released some information tonight in regards to the compensation talks for Theo Epstein between the Cubs and Red Sox.

McAdam is hearing from a source that the teams are putting their negotiations on hold until after Tuesday, as the Cubs will hold a press conference introducing Epstein as their President of Baseball Operations on that day, and the Red Sox will hold a press conference that day introducing their new general manager, Ben Cherington:

Talks to determine the compensation for the Red Sox from the Chicago Cubs for allowing Theo Epstein to leave Boston with a year remaining on his contract are on hold until after the teams introduce their respective executives Tuesday, a source familiar with the negotiations said.
This makes sense, as this will allow Epstein and Cherington(who has been working as the Boston assistant general manager alongside Epstein for years) to work out a deal, instead of relying on other members of the front offices to do so. Negotiations would likely go much smoother this way.

But, if there is not an agreement reached on compensation by November 1st, MLB commissioner Bud Selig says that he will intervene:

"They have until Nov. 1 - Theo and Ben and all the other parties involved," said Selig prior to the start of Game 4 of the World Series. "Hopefully they can get things done. I always encourage clubs to try to get things done between themselves. Somehow, the commissioner has enough things of controversy (to deal with).

"They'll either get it done or they won't. If they don't, then I will."
It's about time Selig put out a deadline for these negotiations and threatened to put this matter into his own hands. I think Theo and Cherington will get a deal worked out before we get to that deadline though.

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The Cubs and Red Sox announced tonight through a joint press release that Theo Epstein has resigned from the Red Sox to become the Cubs' President of Baseball Operations:
The Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs jointly announce this evening that, effective immediately, Theo Epstein has resigned from the Red Sox in order to become the new President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs. The Clubs also have reached an agreement regarding a process by which appropriate compensation will be determined for the Red Sox and that issue will be resolved in the near term
Compensation for the Red Sox is still to be determined, and a press conference to introduce Theo at Wrigley Field is scheduled for Tuesday.

Now, go celebrate.

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On our last post, we informed you how it appeared(basing on a report from David Kaplan... don't kill the messenger) the Cubs and Red Sox were about to announce a deal for Theo Epstein had been completed. Well, the reports keep changing, and right now, nobody has any idea when(and I say "when" because everybody still expects this to get done) a deal will get done.

And even if a deal is in place, we likely won't get an "official" announcement until after the World Series at this point, as MLB doesn't like to have other MLB news interfere with the World Series coverage.

Anyway, it's not worth blogging about each report that comes out because so far every report has been refuted by somebody else. When multiple people confirm a report, then I'll of course write up on it.

But until then, you can at least get constant updates on the Theo/Hoyer developments by following us on Twitter and Facebook:



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UPDATE: With Thursday being a World Series gameday, it was assumed that there would not be an OFFICIAL announcement from MLB in regards to a Theo deal until Friday.

David Kaplan addressed that thinking on Twitter:
I've been working phones non-stop and latest confirms what I reported earlier. Deal is basically done. Word should leak tmrw +press conf Fri

Still need commissioners blessing to make announcement on Fri. That is not expected to be an issue.
So, it appears that we will know about a deal being done(which is all we care about) by Thursday, but there will probably not be an official announcement from MLB until Friday.


David Kaplan is hearing from two "excellent" sources that it appears the Cubs and Red Sox have agreed on compensation for Theo Epstein, and that the deal will be announced tomorrow:
@thekapman: I just spoke with two excellent sources on Epstein negotiations and it appears deal is basically done with announcement of agreement tmrw.
There's been reports throughout the day from various sources that talks are progressing and that a deal could be announced tomorrow, but this is the first report that makes things sound pretty much finalized. Kaplan's sources are usually very accurate when it comes to the Cubs as well.

Additionally, it's sounding more and more likely that the Cubs want Padres' general manager Jed Hoyer to be the Cubs' general manager, with Theo serving as the President of Baseball Operations, as we informed you about last night.

So if the Theo deal is announced tomorrow, the attention will then be turned to working out a Hoyer deal with the Padres, as Hoyer's contract with the Padres goes through 2013. It is believed that a deal with the Padres would be much easier to work out due to Tom Ricketts having a tremendous relationship with Jeff Moorad, the Padres' CEO.

We'll keep you updated.

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Earlier today, Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman reported that the Cubs were interested in the Padres' 37-year-old general manager, Jed Hoyer. This immediately drew confused reactions from many people, myself included. If Theo Epstein is to be the Cubs' general manager, Hoyer would be an assistant with the Cubs. And when he's a general manager now, why would he leave that job to get a lesser job with another organization?

Well, one of the things that was immediately speculated by people(and again, myself included) was that Epstein would be taking the President of Baseball Operations title with the Cubs, and Hoyer would serve as the general manager. That would then be a job he'd obviously be very interested in, as he worked alongside Epstein for a few years in Boston, and the Cubs will have significantly better resources to work with than the Padres will.

And Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal confirms tonight that Epstein is apparently looking to be the President of Baseball Operations and hire a general manager under him:
Epstein is actively looking to hire a GM, a move that would enable him to serve the Cubs as president of baseball operations, according to major league sources.

The change in job description would qualify as a promotion for Epstein. It also would allow him to be less involved in the day-to-day grind that wears down many GMs.
As Rosenthal also notes in the article, Hoyer is under contract with the Padres through 2013, with a club option for 2014. Therefore, acquiring his services would surely mean that the Cubs would have to give the Padres compensation, just like they've been working on tirelessly with the Red Sox for Epstein. So, even if Hoyer would be a target, the Padres may require a high price for him, and the Cubs don't want to give up too many top prospects to fill out their front office staff.

If Hoyer were to leave, it is assumed that Padres Vice President of Operations, Josh Byrnes, would take over the general manager role there. And what makes that funny, is that up until today, reports were that it was expected Byrnes(who also has worked alongside Epstein in Boston) would join Epstein in the Cubs front office. It would be much easier to get him over to the Cubs than Hoyer, but it will probably all come down to who they prefer more(unless the Padres have a very high asking price in return for Hoyer).

First things first though- The Cubs need to get this deal with the Red Sox completed and there's now whispers that may not end up happening until after the World Series is over. I've been patient because there's probably much going on in the compensatory process, due to the Red Sox's prospect demands and front office members in Boston that Epstein is trying to bring over to Chicago. But it's starting to get frustrating, and I wish they could get this inevitable deal finalized already.

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The Friendly Linkfines 10/13/11

Posted by Michael Castillo | 10/13/2011 01:44:00 PM | ,






With the Cubs all but wrapping up the 5-year Theo Epstein deal yesterday, there's been plenty of great reads on all of the happenings with the Cubs.

Here's just a few:

Rumor: Theo Epstein Will Target Josh Byrnes to Join His Front Office (Bleacher Nation)
Patience is a key for Epstein's success (Bruce Levine)
Cubs ready to reach out to estranged icon Ryne Sandberg (Gordon Wittenmyer)
Some advice for Epstein on his first day with Cubs (The Daily Herald)
Theo is a Cub so what next? (Obstructed View)
Red Sox choose Cherington as GM (Yahoo)
Report: Astros headed to American League (CBS Sports)



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John Dennis reported this morning on Boston's WEEI radio that Theo Epstein has a deal in place with the Cubs for five years, with the money totaling over $15 million.

Compensation negotiations are preventing the deal from being official according to Dennis' sources, but that should be settled soon. Also, there is still no word as to what exact title Epstein will hold with the Cubs.

We'll update you with more details as they become available.

Source: WEEI

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Tuesday presented itself with a whirlwind of activity regarding the Cubs pursuit of Red Sox GM Theo Epstein.

Between reports from the Boston Herald that he was "on the brink" of calling Wrigleyville home, and banter in Chicago as to who the Cubs should send to the Red Sox as compensation, Tuesday night provided plenty of information to intake. Today, we'll try our best to jot it all down for you, hopefully as it breaks.

So, make sure to check back throughout the day.

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Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com is reporting that Terry Francona and the Red Sox are expected to mutually part ways tomorrow, as the club forgoes the final two option years on his contract. Here's what Rosenthal had to say:


Terry Francona will meet with Red Sox management on Friday morning, and the expected resolution is that he no longer will be the team’s manager, major league sources say.
While Francona’s departure is not certain, it is the likely outcome, in part because he is pressing for a resolution, sources say. He would not be fired; the Red Sox would simply decline their club options on him for 2012 and ’13.
At that point, Francona would be free to pursue long-term contracts with other clubs. The White Sox’s position currently is open, and Francona managed five seasons in their minor-league system in the early 1990s.
The Cubs could be another possibility for Francona once they hire a new general manager and proceed with the expected dismissal of manager Mike Quade. Francona played for the Cubs in 1986.
Source: FoxSports.com

Rosenthal immediately suggests that the White Sox job could be a landing place for Tito, but let's be honest. The only advantage the Sox have at landing Francona is that they have a GM in place, in Kenny Williams. If Williams acts quickly, they have a de facto free shot at him. If not? Well, you would imagine that Theo Epstein, Andrew Friedman, Ned Colletti or Josh Byrnes would be eager at interviewing the two-time World Series winner.

Plus, can you imagine the pedestal Francona would be on if he won with not only the Red Sox, but the Red Sox AND the Cubs? He'd be untouchable. Not saying that's what would happen if he came to Chicago, but it's what every manager, GM and player comes to Wrigley for. It's that egotistical shot at immortality that brought Dusty and Lou. Maybe the third time's a charm?


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The Boston Red Sox are tied for the AL Wild Card lead with two games to go, in a monumental collapse that's barred the Sox from winning back to back games since August 27. Coupled along with the Cubs GM needs, it appeared at least briefly that the Cubs had at somewhat of an outside, yet highly improbable, shot at Red Sox GM and wunderkind, Theo Epstein.

But according FOX's inside man, Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs' chances of landing Epstein are now all but gone. Here's what he had to say his column today:

If ever the Cubs had a chance to hire Theo Epstein as general manager, that chance probably is gone.

Oh, the Red Sox still might win the American League wild card, but Epstein cannot and will not run from his share of responsibility for the team’s historic flop.

Epstein, in the rare trying moments during his nine-year tenure, always has been accountable. It’s almost impossible to imagine him leaving his hometown team in a moment of epic failure — if indeed the season ends in such fashion.

“He would never be allowed back in the city of Boston,” one rival GM said Tuesday.

Rosenthal then went on to say that a source would deem it "shocking" if he left Boston, and offered Cubs fans a sign of hope from the team chasing Epstein's Red Sox, the Tampa Bay Rays:

Andrew Friedman, anyone?

Friedman, the Rays’ GM, might not want to leave Tampa Bay. He is close to owner Stuart Sternberg and team president Matt Silverman. The Rays, despite playing in the AL East, might be better than the Cubs for the next several years.

Still, if Friedman’s stock is high now, it will be even higher if the low-budget Rays make the playoffs for — get this — the third time in four seasons.

The Cubs at least must ask permission to talk with Friedman. His team, after all, is the one that keeps giving Epstein’s fits.
Epstein was a long shot anyways, and Friedman has long been the dream candidate in my opinion. It's just more than ironic that Friedman's stock is rising with his team, and passing Epstein in more ways than one.
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Most incredible home run ever hit at Wrigley?


Prettyyyyyy, prettyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy, pretty good.

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Added Disqus Commenting System

Posted by Matt Clapp | 9/21/2011 03:38:00 AM

Gone is the crappy Blogger comment system, and in is the one from Disqus. It's much more user friendly and will hopefully get some good discussion going on here.

Welp, see ya later.

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It sure sounds like Aramis Ramirez has played his last game at Wrigley Field as a Cub.

Ramirez left tonight's game against the Brewers with a strained quad, which will likely keep him out of tomorrow's home finale. And it doesn't sound like he's expecting to be back on the team next year:

Ramirez left the game with a mild quad strain, and was asked if it was his last game here.

"Probably," he said. "There's a good chance. I'm a free agent and I don't know what's going to happen. But it looks like I'm going to hit the market."

The Cubs hold a $16 million option on Ramirez. He said he wants to return, but "we haven't heard anything" from the Cubs.


"I think we're ready to move on," he said.

It's been considered unlikely that Ramirez would be back for a number of reasons. For one, while he's by far the best hitter on the team, $16 million is a lot to pay a guy that will be 34 next June and has been arguably the worst defensive third baseman in all of baseball this season. The Cubs have the worst defense in baseball, so surely they'd like better defense coming from the hot corner.

Additionally, ESPN Chicago's Bruce Levine recently said that Tom Ricketts wants the Cubs spending more on pitching than position players. And that certainly would be a good idea when you consider that the only good starting pitcher guaranteed to be in next year's rotation is Matt Garza. The Cubs need to find an ace(C.J. Wilson would be ideal), or at least a couple of #3 types in the near future to compete with the Brewers and Cardinals in the division.

And if the Cubs did choose to spend money on position players, they'd probably want to throw money at a Prince Fielder rather than an Aramis Ramirez. Ramirez wants a multi-year deal(even if the Cubs exercise the $16 million option, he can/would opt out). The Cubs, a team building for the future, aren't going to give him that when you consider he'll be in his upper 30s by the time the contract is up.

So, while Ramirez's run-producing bat in the middle of the order is sure to be missed next season, it's probably best for both sides to part ways, which Ramirez seems to understand as well.

Now, if Ramirez is indeed gone, who will replace him at third base? Well, they're not going to find anywhere close to a "replacement" at the position offensively. Josh Vitters, 22, can hit, but he's yet to develop enough patience to be considered an everyday starter at the big league level, at least in my opinion. And outside of Ramirez, there's not going to be any clearly attractive options in free agency.

Therefore, the Cubs will surely explore the trade market for a solution, and will probably just find a guy that can be a decent short-term option. That will allow them to evaluate Vitters or other prospects for another season, and perhaps a more attractive option will present itself on the free agency/trade market next offseason than what they'll find this offseason.

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Cubs 2012 Schedule was Released, and We're Guaranteeing They'll Play in October

Posted by Michael Castillo | 9/15/2011 02:40:00 AM


The powers that be announced the Cubs schedule for next season on Wednesday, finally giving us something to look forward to. The immediate good news for 2012, is that the Cubs will in fact play in October, as they conclude the season with a three game set against division rival Houston. 

As for Opening Day, the Cubs will begin the campaign at Wrigley, hosting the Nationals on April 5, before Milwaukee comes in for an early season four-game series just four days later. April could be the most difficult month for the Cubs, as while they'll only have 10 road games, they include trips to St. Louis, Miami and Philadelphia. 

The trip to Miami should be interesting, considering the Cubs no longer have to play at Joe Robbie, where they seemingly struggled every year. Instead, they'll be the third opponent to play the Miami Marlins under the retractable roof, where oddly enough, the Cardinals will open the ballpark(right) with a one-off game on Opening Night.

The Cubs will play indoors plenty, 25 games total, as they will travel to Arizona twice, in the annual scheduling quirk that gives NL teams two road series against one non-divisional opponent. The Twins are also on the schedule, where for the first time ever, the Cubs get to play at the beautiful Target Field, beginning Friday, June 8. That series ends the season's toughest road trip, a 10-gamer that goes from San Francisco to Milwaukee, before ending in Minneapolis.

Rounding out June's Interleague slate is the annual road series on the South Side, and one of the most exciting, yet daunting home-stands in recent memory, when both the Tigers and Red Sox come to Wrigley in mid-July. It'll be the Red Sox' second trip to Friendly Confines during Interleague play, and the last time the Tigers were on the North Side, they spoiled Mark Prior's mid-season debut in 2006, knocking him around for eight runs. 

The Cubs-Cards series will be spread out next season, with home-and-homes in April and July, a quick two-game set at Busch Stadium in May, and a three-game series at Wrigley in late September. As for the Sox, they come to Wrigley on May 18, before hosting the Cubs in a midweek series exact a month later. Lastly, the Cubs will face the Brewers 17 times, and none of those will be in September.

Here's the notable series on the docket for the Cubs in 2012:

vs. Washington, April 5-8
vs. Milwaukee, April 9-12
at. St. Louis, April 13-15
at. Miami, April 17-19
vs. St. Louis, April 23-25
at Philadelphia, April 27-30
vs. Atlanta, May 7-9
at Milwaukee, May11-13
at St. Louis, May 14-15
vs. Philadelphia, May 16-17
vs. White Sox, May 18-20
at San Francisco, June 1-4
at Milwaukee, June 5-7
at Minnesota, June 8-10
vs. Detroit, June 12-14
vs. Boston, June 15-17
at White Sox, June 18-20
vs. New York Mets, June 25-27
at Atlanta, July 2-4
at New York Mets, July 6-8
vs. All-Star Game in Kansas City, July 10
vs. Arizona, July 13-15
at St. Louis, July 20-23
vs. St. Louis, July 27-29
at Los Angeles, August 3-5
at San Diego, August 6-8
at Milwaukee, August 20-22
vs. Milwaukee, August 27-30
vs. San Francisco, August 31-September 2
vs. St. Louis, September 21-23
at Arizona, September 28-30
vs. Houston, October 1-3
For the rest, click here.


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Say what you want about the Cubs not producing offensively,but the bottom line is that looking at what are now near season totals, most ofthe Cubs' big hitters are exactly where you'd project them to be at thebeginning of the year.

Aramis Ramirez started off slow as he did a year ago, but should finish right about the 27-home run/100-RBI mark, a stat line thateveryone would have taken at Opening Day if asked. Not to mention that from June through August, Ramirez was one of the best hitters in the game, slugging .585 and posting a .939 OPS in 80 games over those three months. Double those stats and Ramirez would have projected to having a 45-home run, 130-RBI season.You know that "career year" that's always alluded Aramis? That three-month stretch was it. So he can't possibly be to blame for the Cubs' poor record, especially considering that much of that production was done in the midst of trade talks and constant heckling from the Chicago media.

The kid to his right, Starlin Castro, fits the same bill and should finish at right about 10 homers and 65 RBIs, which was what just about everyone expected from the 21-year old. The best part about Castro's season, however, has been his peripherals. While Starlin's patience at the plate has been in line with the Pattersons, Pies, and Hoffpauirs of the world, his average and slugging have been as good or better than last year, every step of the way this season. As for his on-base percentage, that will improve with time, and once it goes up, so will everything else, considering the kid is hitting at a.306 clip as it is.

Moving around the horn, Carlos Pena has been everything the Cubs had hoped for, based on his skill-set and statistics from a year ago. He's had stretches this season where no one in the league has slugged better, and Hendry would have done backflips in February had you told him Pena would finish with 30 homers and hit .230. Has his RISP numbers been disappointing? Sure, and that's reflected in his run production, but it's Carlos Pena. We all knew going into this season that he wasn't going to put up Pujols or Fielder numbers. Now, if the Cubs can't grab one of those two guys, Pena's more that shown he'sworthy of sticking around.

Lastly, let's look at Alfonso Soriano, who should finishwith roughly 25 homers and 80 RBI. Anyone with any knowledge of Soriano's legs, ability, and pressure would take that production any day in the end. That's who Soriano is and exactly what we should expect from him at his age, with his now limited ability.

Now...if only Geovany Soto was one of these"expectation" guys, but we can save that analysis for another day.

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Many I’ve spoken to that follow Chicago Cubs prospects seem to write off Ryan Flaherty, at least to some extent. It really is a shame that a 25-year-old prospect has trouble receiving credit despite good production.

Of course, that is a very short summary to a long story outlining Flaherty’s career. Vanderbilt was lucky to have the 6’3", 220-lb shortstop for two great years that were capped off with a second-team All-American bid in his sophomore season. The Cubs used their supplemental round pick on Flaherty in the 2008 draft. From there, Ryan made a promising start to his career by destroying Northwest League pitching with a .880 OPS.

Flaherty’s long story takes on a bit of a lull after his first season as a pro. In his age 22 and 23 seasons, Flaherty languished mostly in A and A+ ball while putting up good-not-great numbers. This has become a foundation for why many that are well versed with Cubs prospects feel he has been a disappointment. There is something of an expectation for an accomplished college baseball player to move quickly through the lower ranks of a farm system rather than meander around for a couple of years as Flaherty did.

Flaherty did finally push through to AA in 2010 with less than desirable numbers (.539 OPS). It seems Flaherty has in fact turned the corner in this 2011 season by showing off the type of power man envisioned from his large frame. He’s belted 17 home runs between Tennessee and Iowa along with admirable versatility on the diamond. Flaherty’s fielded every position except centerfield and catcher.

At worst, Flaherty likely can become a dependable bench player for the Cubs by filling the DeRosa-esque “super sub” role that many Cubs fans are familiar with. At best, he could be a decent third base option in the post Aramis Ramirez era where his strong throwing arm and projectable power fit best. His swing has been described as long with good power and his plate discipline is noted to be better than average. He’s a great athlete overall, but will not impress anyone with his speed.

Flaherty has struggled since his promotion to AAA Iowa, but a healthy 10 game stretch in which he’s hit .385/.500/.885 indicates he may have made an adjustment. It is fair for his critics to point out his age as a detractor, but he’ll be 25 for the majority of the season next year. If he impresses in spring training enough to earn a spot on the 25 man roster, his career path will hardly be abnormal.

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As you've probably heard by now, the Cubs traded Kosuke Fukudome to the Cleveland Indians for two prospects today. And a few days ago(I only know that because I looked up the date of the score at the bottom of the picture), the Indians' television network, SportsTime Ohio, had up a graphic about potential Indians trade targets. Fukudome was included in those trade targets... but SportsTime Ohio apparently didn't know that was his last name:

Pretty unbelievable and hilarious screw-up. Surely they somehow got Fukudome mixed up with quarterback Jake Delhomme, who their local NFL team, the Cleveland Browns, actually released today.

H/T: @AwfulAnnouncing(and I write for that site too by the way), @JeffDLowe

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