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Tag:Cubs
Posted on: November 29, 2011 4:01 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 4:32 pm
 

Tuesday rumors: Dotel, Thornton and more

Rumor Mill
By Matt Snyder

There's going to be tons of rumor talk this week, as we inch closer to the Winter Meetings next week. That goes without saying. Some stuff will pan out and other rumors will never come to fruition.

Since not every reader is sitting on Twitter all day, we'll pass along as much as we can. Let's run through a quick snapshot of some of the more minor rumors from Tuesday morning and early afternoon. Remember, these are reports from other outlets that we're just passing along. Feel free to believe or ignore whatever you wish.

• Right-handed reliever Octavio Dotel -- who was an important member of the Cardinals bullpen after a midseason trade -- is drawing interest from a handful of teams, reports indicate. MLB.com says the Mets and Cardinals are in the running while FoxSports.com names the Cardinals, Reds and Tigers. Dotel is 38, but posted a high strikeout rate for the Cardinals (11.7 K/9, his best since '08) and threw well in the postseason.

• The White Sox are trying to trade left-handed reliever Matt Thornton, reports Buster Olney of ESPN.com. Thornton is owed $12 million over the course of the next two seasons. The 35-year-old was excellent from 2008-2010 but took a step back in 2011. Of course, if you look at just June 5 to the end of the season, he was back to himself (2.20 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 44 K in 41 innings).

• The Cubs have interest in Rockies third baseman Ian Stewart (via trade), reports Troy Renck of the Denver Post, though Renck notes the level of "seriousness is unclear." Stewart makes a lot of sense as a trade candidate. Once a top-10 prospect (Baseball America had him as high as fourth in all of baseball), Stewart hit 25 homers for Colorado in 2009. But he's been unable to fix his issues with strikeouts, batting average or consistency and seems to have fallen out of favor. He'd probably come cheap, so the Cubs plugging him at third base -- with Aramis Ramirez headed out via free agency -- could work. Stewart's only 26, so maybe a change of scenery would help.

• The Dodgers are speaking with representatives for Adam Kennedy, reports MLB Trade Rumors. Kennedy would simply serve as a multi-positional backup infielder. The 35-year-old hit .234/.277/.355 last season for the Mariners. He'd be shaky at shortstop, but could handle first, second or third just fine.

• The Marlins are interested in Carlos Guillen, reports Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com. The three-time All-Star is now 36 and has only averaged 72 games a year in the past four seasons due to injury woes. He'd also likely be simply a multi-positional backup or late-innings pinch hitter.

• This isn't a rumor, but we'll throw it in here. The Phillies have released relief pitcher Scott Mathieson so he can pursue a contract in Asia, the club announced via press release.

Hat-tip: MLB Trade Rumors

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 29, 2011 9:49 am
Edited on: November 29, 2011 4:35 pm
 

Report: Cubs after Pujols, Fielder due to CBA



By Matt Snyder


Once thought to be more of a longshot to get in the bidding on any significant free agent signings, the Cubs are now in on the Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder sweepstakes, reports Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

One of the reasons it was widely thought the Cubs weren't going to go major on the free agent market is because the team isn't exactly just one or two players away from a World Series. One of the major tasks at hand for new president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer is building a strong, youthful foundation, and that means patience.

Rumor Mill
But, according to Rosenthal, the new collective bargaining agreement changed everything. As Danny Knobler specifically noted last week, the new rules on draft and international spending make it much harder for teams (including the Cubs) to heavily build through the draft and international free agency. Factor in that there aren't many big bats hitting the free agent market in the next few years, and it makes sense that the Cubs would change course and start seriously considering either Pujols or Fielder as a franchise centerpiece.

The report also notes the Cubs prefer Pujols, despite being several years older, because he's a more well-rounded player -- factoring in defense and baserunning.

Even if the Cubs don't sign either player, their involvement in any bidding is a huge deal. With the Yankees, Red Sox and Phillies out, the Cubs can likely outpay any other team, if they so choose. Yes, there are already some big contracts on the books, but more than $50 million has dropped off the Cubs' player payroll from last season and only Carlos Marmol and Alfonso Soriano are signed through 2013. Basically, if the Cubs want, they can blow everyone else out of the water. If not, they've at least driven up the price for other teams.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 28, 2011 7:15 pm
Edited on: November 29, 2011 11:06 am
 

Trade rumor du jour: Matt Garza available



By Matt Snyder


Earlier Monday, Buster Olney of ESPN tweeted that the Cubs were willing to trade starting pitcher Matt Garza and there's been much discussion all day about where he might be headed, if he's traded. This isn't really news, though, because it's widely known the Cubs will listen to trade offers on just about everyone (21-year-old shortstop Starlin Castro probably isn't headed anywhere, but everyone else could surely be had at a reasonable price).

Still, we might as well just take the opportunity to talk about where Garza would fit. It's that time of the year, after all, with the Winter Meetings starting in just one week.

Rumor Mill
We know the Yankees and Red Sox want starting pitching. They always do. The Blue Jays, Rockies and Reds are also looking and a trade would fit better than spending big on a free agent. The Marlins and Nationals have been heavily involved in courting free agent starting pitchers, and in doing so they wouldn't have to cough up a good package of prospects, but don't count them out, either. And the list could be even bigger, this was just picking out a few obvious teams.

Expect the new Cubs administration -- led by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer -- to actively seek out ways to restock the farm system as they look to build a strong foundation. That means if you see a name in trade rumors, it's probably true the Cubs are listening to offers. To reiterate, they're listening on virtually everyone. They're looking for any opportunity to start planning for the future, even if it's at the expense of the present.

Garza, 28, was 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 197 strikeouts in 198 innings last season, his first in Chicago. Sabermetric stats such as FIP, xFIP and WAR loved Garza last season, too, so front offices with analytical leanings will certainly be contacting Epstein, Hoyer and company.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 28, 2011 6:48 pm
 

Catching up on Prince Fielder rumors

By Matt Snyder

One of the hottest names on the free agent market is slugging first baseman Prince Fielder, who is fresh off finishing third place in NL MVP voting. Let's take a look at the latest rumors concerning the robust lefty.

• The Nationals are in serious pursuit of Fielder, though talks hit a roadblock Monday, reports Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. This is a contradiction to several previous reports that indicated the Nationals were only looking to upgrade starting pitching and center field. They can play Mike Morse at first base, but he could also fit in left field. Rosenthal also reports that Cuban import Yoennis Cespedes is a "Plan B" option for the Nats.

MLB Free Agency
• In addition to the Nationals, the Cubs, Rangers and Mariners are believed to be suitors for Fielder, Jon Paul Morosi of FoxSports.com reports.

Jon Heyman of SI.com reports that the Rangers chances of going large for Fielder are pretty slim.

We've also heard several times that the Cubs aren't expected to spend a ton of money in free agency, but then they keep being connected to big names. Is that the work of Scott Boras floating talk to reporters, hoping that if other teams hear a "deep pockets" team is interested it increases the offer to Fielder? That remains to be seen. But if the Cubs are out, the Rangers aren't willing to go nine figures (as Heyman reported) and the Nationals really want Fielder, that would seem to be the most likely destination at this point. They could outspend the Mariners. But it's a long offseason and the Winter Meetings start next week. Stay tuned.

Hat-tip: MLB Trade Rumors

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 27, 2011 6:56 pm
 

Report: Tigers 'inquired' about Aramis Ramirez

By Matt Snyder

The Detroit Tigers have "inquired" on free agent third baseman Aramis Ramirez, reports Jon Heyman of SI.com. "Inquired" could mean as little as they briefly talked to Ramirez's agent, who passed it along to Heyman in hopes to conjure up more interest from other teams that are weak at third. It's been a slow enough past few days on the rumor front, however, it can't hurt to pass this along as a discussion point -- because Ramirez to Detroit does make a lot of sense.

Free Agency
The Tigers mostly used Brandon Inge and Wilson Betemit at third base last season, so Ramirez would mark a big offensive upgrade. He hit .306 with 26 home runs, 93 RBI, 35 doubles and a .971 OPS last season for the Cubs. He's been in Chicago since being traded there in July of 2003. As a Cub, he's hit .294/.356/.531 with 239 homers and 806 RBI, playing for three division champions.

Ramirez is 33 years old and easily the best third baseman on the free agent market. In fact, he's the only free agent at that position that is a viable everyday starter.

Again, though, we don't know how serious talks can be if the report simply states the Tigers "inquired on" him.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 27, 2011 11:28 am
Edited on: November 27, 2011 12:28 pm
 

Homegrown Team: Chicago Cubs



By Matt Snyder


What if players were only permitted to stay with the team that originally made them a professional? No trades, no Rule-5 Draft, no minor or major league free agency ... once you are a professional baseball player, you stay in that organization. This series shows how all 30 teams would look. We give you: Homegrown teams. To view the schedule of this feature, click here.

When we discuss the Chicago Cubs, no baseball fan is lacking an opinion -- specifically, everyone seems to have some pet theory as to why the Cubs haven't won a World Series since 1908. I've long argued with the people who believe the streak has something to do with a stupid "curse" or somehow now has something to do with playing so many more day games than everyone else. No, the real problem is they've never put a top-to-bottom management system in place that has done the job consistently for more than a small handful of seasons. It's possible current Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has done so with Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, et al (in fact, I'd argue it's likely), but that's a different discussion for a different forum.

For now, we're left looking at one of the worst Homegrown Teams in our series.

Lineup

1. Kosuke Fukudome, RF
2. Darwin Barney, 2B
3. Starlin Castro, SS
4. Tyler Colvin, LF
5. Casey McGehee, 3B
6. Eric Hinske, 1B
7. Geovany Soto, C
8. Sam Fuld, CF

Starting Rotation

1. Ricky Nolasco
2. Kyle Lohse
3. Andrew Cashner*
4. Carlos Zambrano
5. Randy Wells
* - if Cashner fell injured like he did in the real 2011 season, the options would be: Jon Garland, Dontrelle Willis and Casey Coleman.

Bullpen

Closer - Kyle Farnsworth
Set up - Kerry Wood, Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol, Al Alburquerque, Juan Cruz, Michael Wuertz
Long - Jeff Samardzija, Rich Hill, Sergio Mitre

Notable Bench Players

Robinson Chirinos, Ryan Theriot, Ronny Cedeno, Brandon Guyer, Corey Patterson, Felix Pie, Tony Campana, Lou Montanez. In fact, feel free to grab any of these guys, plug them in the lineup and play around with it. There's really no wrong answer, because it's one marquee player (and he's only 21) amidst a heap of mediocrity at this point. Maybe Guyer proves a good player, McGehee bounces back and/or Colvin becomes a good everyday player, but we have to go on what we've seen up to this point.

What's Good?

The bullpen is really strong. It's well-rounded with righties and lefties, depth, power pitchers and specialists. Of course, there could be an issue with the lack of a reliable closer when it comes to either Farnsworth or Marmol, but a new-age manager might just abandon that idea and use whoever makes the most sense in the ninth.

What's Not?

The starting rotation doesn't have a true ace (or No. 2, for that matter). The infield defense sorely lacks range and the outfield isn't great either. The team speed is minimal, there isn't a good option at leadoff (or in the two-hole, or cleanup, or fifth ... you get the point) and who is the best power hitter? Colvin? Soto? Basically, everything other than the bullpen and Starlin Castro is lackluster.

Comparison to real 2011

You have to give former general manager Jim Hendry credit for scraping together a team good enough to win three division titles in six years, considering this bunch. Then again, he was in charge as the organization was assembling nothing more than a mediocre foundation (Baseball Prospectus now says the minor-league system is "not bad" but is more "depth than starpower."). Let's leave out the excuses, because there are far more bad picks (Montanez at third overall as a shortstop, for example) than there are instances of bad luck (Mark Prior, for example).

The amazing thing is that the 2011 Cubs were 71-91 and I actually think that team was better than this Homegrown unit. When we do the Homegrown rankings in mid-December, expect to see the Cubs toward the bottom. That probably changes in five years, but we're doing this exercise in the present. And this team would probably win somewhere in the ballpark of 65 games. Maybe fewer.

Up Next: Seattle Mariners

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Posted on: November 22, 2011 1:21 pm
 

Choosing the NL Least Valuable Player



By Matt Snyder


With the announcement of the National League MVP coming Tuesday, we'll once again do the opposite and choose a least valuable player. Unlike the AL version of this "award," the candidates were not nearly as identifiable. I did narrow it down to five worthy contenders, so let's size 'em up.

Pedro Alvarez, Pirates. The 24-year-old third baseman was supposed to be a power bat in the middle of the Pirates lineup for years to come. And he still might prove to be one in the future, but he was awful in 2011. Alvarez hit .191/.272/.289 with just four homers in 262 plate appearances. He even earned a demotion to Triple-A. He struck out 80 times and grounded into 11 double plays in just 235 at-bats.

Tyler Colvin, Cubs. The 2006 first-round pick hit 20 home runs in 358 at-bats in 2010, but he was lost in 2011. Colvin hit .150/.204/.306 with six homers in 222 plate appearances. You can go after Mike Quade for not letting Colvin get regular playing time if you want, but how can you justify continuing to run a guy out there with a .204 on-base percentage?

Aubrey Huff, Giants. Believe it or not, Huff finished seventh in MVP voting in 2010. Man, that seems like ages ago. In 2011, the Giants had the worst offense in the National League, and Huff has to shoulder some of that blame. Huff's raw stats don't look near as bad as those of Alvarez, Colvin or a litany of others, but his .246/.306/.370 line damaged a legitimate playoff threat. If he had a similar season to 2010, the entire complexion of the lineup changes.

Derek Lowe, Braves. He made 34 starts and worked 187 innings, so that sounds like he had some value, at least in giving the Braves a healthy innings-eater. It's just that Lowe faltered when the Braves needed him the most. His overall season numbers -- 9-17, 5.05 ERA, 1.51 WHIP -- were bad enough, but Lowe was horrifying in September. He made five starts, going 0-5 with an 8.75 ERA and 1.99 WHIP. This was during a historic collapse. And Lowe made $15 million in 2011.

Brandon Lyon, Astros. The closer set the tone for the Astros' abysmal 2011 season by blowing an opening-day save opportunity, allowing six hits and three runs to the Phillies. He would rack up as many blown saves as actual saves (four), which fit nicely with his 11.48 ERA and 2.40 WHIP. Still, Lyon only appeared in 15 games, due to injury, so he can't really win this one.

And the winner is ... Huff by a nose. Ultimately, I believe Huff's shortfall from his 2010 numbers was more responsible for costing the Giants the playoffs than Lowe's campaign. Since Lowe is a starting pitcher and only goes once every five days, I feel like the Braves still could have overcome his shortcomings. But the Giants' offense was pitiful all season, and if Huff hit the ball better, it would have been an immense boost. I'd definitely be on board with anyone wanting to pick Lowe, though. This was a two-horse race.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: November 19, 2011 6:32 pm
 

Arizona Fall League wraps up season

Nolan ArenadoBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Salt River Rafters wrapped up the Arizona Fall League season with an 9-3 victory over the Surprise Saguaros on Saturday, and with it came a flurry of awards.

Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (pictured) won the league's Most Valuable Player Award. The 20-year old, playing for the Rafters, hit safely in 27 of his 30 games, including a 2-for-4 performance with a solo homer in Saturday's championship game. Arrando led the minor leagues with 122 RBI at High-A Modesto in 2011.

Miami outfielder Kevin Mattison won the Dernell Stenson Sportsmanship Award. Mattison tied for the league lead in triples (five) and second in runs scored (29). Mattison was added to the Marlins' 40-man roster on Friday.

Arenado and Mattison were also members of the league's Top Prospects Team.

The entire team:

Outfield

Bryce Harper (Nationals): .333/.400/.636, 6 HR, 26 RBI

Michael Choice (Athletics): .318/.423/.667, 6 HR, 18 RBI

Robbie Grossman (Pirates): .375/.472/625, 7 HR, 22 RBI

Kevin Mattison (Marlins): .349/.433/.624, 6 HR, 23 RBI

Adam Eaton (Diamondbacks): .344/.410/.475, 2 HR, 16 RBI

Wil Myers (Royals): .360/.481/.674, 4 HR, 18 RBI

Third base

Nolan Arenado (Rockies): .388/.423/.636, 6 HR, 33 RBI

Mike Olt (Rangers): .349/.433/.764, 13 HR 43 RBI

Shortstop

Junior Lake (Cubs): .296/.352/.548, 5 HR, 21 RBI

Brandon Crawford (Giants): .276/.315/.414, 2 HR, 12 RBI

Second base

Joe Panik (Giants): .323/.394/.473, 2 HR, 13 RBI

Brian Dozier (Twins): .296/..358/.454, 3 HR, 22 RBI

First base

Joe Terdoslavich (Braves): .321/.424/.548, 3 HR, 14 RBI

Matt Adams (Cardinals): .250/.258/.475, 4 HR, 19 RBI

Catcher

Christian Bethancourt (Braves): .306/.324/.556, 5 HR, 13 RBI

Derek Norris (Nationals): .276/.367/.382, 2 HR, 11 RBI

Designated hitter

Jedd Gyorko (Padres): .437/.500/.704, 5 HR, 22 RBI

Josh Vitters (Cubs): .360/.383/.540, 4 HR, 17 RBI

Starting pitchers

Danny Hultzen (Mariners): 1-0, 1.40 ERA, 19.1 IP, 18 SO, 5 BB

Terry Doyle (White Sox): 4-0, 1.98 ERA, 27.1 IP, 22 SO, 5 BB

Relievers

Brad Boxberger (Reds): 3 saves, 5.40 ERA, 13.1 IP, 22 SO, 6 BB

Jacob Diekman (Phillies): 2 saves, 0.79 ERA, 11.1 IP, 14 SO, 6 BB

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com