Friday, December 06, 2013

Hit and Run: Signees, Non-Tenders, and Trades! Oh My!

It has been a while so….


·         The Cubs signed Wesley Wright to an one year $1.425M deal. BleacherNation does a great job running down what he is and what he brings to the Cubs.

·         The Cubs named Eric Hinske their 1st base coach.

·         The Cubs traded cash considerations for George Kottaras who on Monday inked an one-year 1.075M deal with them.

·         There has been a ton of talk about the Tanaka saga and posting system.  The deal includes a cap of $20 in which those who make the high cap bid all have the right to negotiate with the postee which in this case is Tanaka.  The only way this works out better for the Cubs is if the posting cap went higher than $20M.  Hard to complain about the new rules if you’re the MLB.

·         There has been plenty of weight thrown around by our friends to the east saying they may decide not to post Tanaka after all.

·         The Cubs are expected to big major players on Tanaka regardless of posting price or contract. This has been widely spread across other media outlets outside Chicago.

·         Archie Bradley is off limits to everyone for just about every player including David Price so he is not likely in Chicago.

·         Looking at the recent non-tender list I feel John AxfordAndrew Bailey,Ronald BelisarioTommy Hanson andRyan Webb would all make solid additions to the Cubs current roster.

·         There are 5 serious suitors I see for Jeff Samardzija and below are the deals I feel are the most fair and probable for him.

1.     Blue Jays: I would love to get Aaron Sanchez but I don’t see that happening.  The deal I see is Marcus Stroman, Sean Nolin, Kyle Drabek, and Anthony Gose.  It could be a little more or a little less depending if it is just for Shark or if the Cubs throw in another piece or two.

2.     Dbacks: Forget getting Archie Bradly because it won’t happen.  I feel the Cubs could likely expand this deal to a guy like Schierholtz so I am keeping that in mind as well.  The deal I see is Tyler Skaggs, Andrew Chaffin, and Jake Barrett. If Schierholtz is involved I could see they including an Eaton or Pollock.

3.     Dodgers:  Puig is not coming and Kemp not likely either.  The deal I see is Zach Lee, Joc Pederson, and Chris Reed.  I got to admit this deal does a lot for me and it seems like something the Dodgers would pull the trigger on.

4.     Orioles: I do not see Bundy being dealt but he is not as “off-limits” as everyone thinks.  Honestly I think the Orioles deal will include Gausman as the headliner and followed by Mike Wright.  After that it drops off quite a bit.

5.     Braves:  The Braves/Shark chatter is getting louder and I am being told they are going to be major players and actually have been but it has been very much under the radar.  The Braves farm is not as good as it once was but they can certainly compete with the other 4 teams on this list.  For the Braves to be involved they will need to include Lucas Sims or Christain Bethancourt.  I am going Bethancourt because the Cubs obvious need for catching depth in the minors.  After that the Braves have some impressive arms and also keep in mind it seems like the Braves always overpay in trades (example Paul Maholm and rumored Delgado/Dempster deal).  So the deal I see is Christian Bethancourt, David Hale, Tommy La Stella, and Sean Gillmartin.  Would love this package if I was the Cubs front office.

·         Hey folks!  Our friends at CubsDenhave a awesome Winter Meeting thread going.  Check it out!

·         So Arodys Vizcaino is doing more than well in instruction league hitting 98 MPH on the guy, throwing free and easy, and with great control according to Theo Epstein.  DROOL!!

·         The Cubs are likely to make a couple of moves at the Winter Meetings but no major free agent signings because of the stage of the rebuild they are in.

·         Javier Baez will stay at SS for now reports all the Chicago media outlets but he is likely to see time at numerous positions in the Spring.

·         Moving Baez to 2b would be an easy transition says Theo if it comes to that.

·         Lots of speculation that Baez could make his Wrigley debut sometime in June.

·         No impact prospect will break the team out of Spring Training.  That prospect list does not include Mike Olt who is likely to compete for the starting job at 3rd.

·         The Cubs radio gig is down to Ron Coomer and Todd Hollandsworth.  I really hope Hollandsworth gets the job, I am a big fan!

• The Cubs are in on both John Axford and Joba Chamberlin.


Until Next Time…




Sunday, November 24, 2013

Two Trades & One Choice

The title pretty much explains it.  I am going to lay out 2 trade options for the Chicago Cubs based on recent rumors and talk. I will pick the one out I feel it the better of the two.  I would like to hear what you would pick (if any) and why.

Pick one of the trade choices:

Option #1

Cubs Get: Matt Wieters and Kevin Gausman
Orioles Get: Jeff Samardzija and Welington Castillo

This has been debated and talked about a lot throughout the Cubs blogs and websites the recent weeks.  It is until recently I have been really sold on this trade (thanks to @chistyle82) and it fills two needs the front office is looking for in one trade.  The Cubs are looking to get more balanced and obviously more power at the plate.  Matt Wieters definitely provides that power with popping 22 or more homers the last 3 years.  The other huge plus with Wieters is he bats from the left side of the plate and is a very solid backstop having caught 33% of base stealers in 5 seasons.  The other thing he has going is he is only 27 years old and made $5.5M last season and two years away from free agency.  The bad with Wieters is he is two years away from free agency which is the exact time the Cubs will be likely competing for the playoffs although getting him could speed up that process. The reason you can't assume (just like most would be FA) that he would sign extension it is somewhat of a risk especially with Scott Boras as his agent.  But to me the good outweigh the bad when it comes to Wieters.

The other major player in this deal is potential number 1 starter Kevin Gausman.  This guy is a game changer just check out his scouting report from Baseball Prospectus here.  That pretty much says it all and it is rumored the O's would trade Gausman for a guy like Shark.

The O's get a replacement for Wieters who has a bright future ahead of him and is cost effective which allows them some good payroll flexibility to maybe sign Shark to an extension. The O's also get a potential #2 pitcher in Jeff to really beef up their rotation.

Option #2

Cubs Get: Kyle Drabek, Sean Nolin, and Anthony Gose
Jays get: Jeff Samardzija

The Blue Jays have come out of nowhere as serious suitors for Jeff Samardzija.  Bruce Levine recently tweeted that the Jays are putting together a package of young talent for Shark.  The above trade is something that I could see the Cubs getting for in return for Shark.  I am sure the Cubs will ask for Aaron Sanchez but it is unlikely the Jays would part ways with him plus more and the Cubs need to capitalize on any Samardzija trade with near ML ready talent where Sanchez is still two years away.  So with the Jays likely unwillingness to deal Sanchez and the Cubs wanting near ML ready talent with him that does not match up.  Two other big possibilities that could replace Sean Nolin and/or Kyle Drabek is Marcus Stroman and/or Drew Hutchison. Both are quality pitchers that could easily interchange with Nolin and/or Drabek.  The reason I pick Drabek because he reminds me a lot of two other guys currently on the Cubs roster with Travis Wood and Jake Arrieta.  Guys who were former highly regarded prospects who faltered on reason or another but turned it around when given another chance.  Drabek is this guy to me.  He is 25 years old and a former top 30 prospect in 2010 and 2011 but injuries have sidelined him.  Seems like a buy low high reward guy the Cubs could really capitalize on. 

Sean Nolin to me could be the eventually the prize of this deal. While he did not fair well in his first experience in the ML he is still only 23 year old and put up beautiful minor league numbers.  Not a top 100 prospect but maybe just outside that top 100 status.  Let's not forget he is a lefty which is always a plus.

The 3rd bonus item in this deal is Anthony Gose who himself was a top 50 prospect in 2012 and seems to be putting stuff together. His glove and arm in CF is major league ready and he brings speed to a lineup that is much needed posting 126 steals in the past 3 season in the minors.  He brings in the coveted helps the now and the future at only being 23 as well.

The Jays are always looking to get better and their GM has a history for flare in trades so getting a guy like Jeff Samardzija to his rotation makes a lot of sense.  The Jays are in win now mode and cannot wait to see if the guys they are trading will work out or not.

My Pick:  These two trades are very different but that is what makes them so appealing to me.  One trade has the Cubs getting a potential #1 pitcher in Gausman and a solid ML tested and proven backstop in Wieters.  The Orioles trade is more of a speed up process trade but the quantity of return is down plus the Cubs could risk losing Wieters in two years when they start competing.  The trade with the Jays does not have a clear cut #1 pitcher in the mix but the potential is there.  They do get quantity I this trade which stacks the farm again.  In the end I do the trade with the Orioles because it gives the Cubs the left-handed power bat behind the plate plus a potential ACE that could be the opening day starter next season in Gausman.

So what would you pick and why?

Special Shout Out to @Chistyle82 on twitter.  Give him a follow for good Cubs talk!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cubs Hit & Run

Early morning quick hits-

-  The Cubs have signed Walter Ibarra, Eli Whiteside, and Aaron Cunningham to minor league deals.
-  The Cubs have interest in bringing in an experienced back up catcher to mentor Castillo.  They have been linked to Kurt Suzuki, Jose Molina, and Humberto Quintero.  There has been chatter about John Buck as well.
-  Jim Bowden says the Cubs are shopping Edwin Jackson because of the crazy priced pitching market and Edwin Jackson's now nice looking front loaded contract.  The Cubs could trade both Shark and Jackson during the Winter Meetings.
-  The Cubs have various degrees of interest in pitchers Josh Johnson, Phil Hughes, and Scott Kazmir.
- is saying the Cubs could target Logan Morrison from the Marlins.  Fantastic idea in a buy low player with a high ceiling. 
-  Another player that is being tossed around is Nate McClouth.
-  Some bounced back guys (or lower tier) that the Cubs have had internal discussions about are Roy Halladay, Kevin Youkilis, Jeff Baker, CF Chris Young, and Grady Sizemore.
-  Curtis Granderson recently said he has interest in coming home to Chicago. If the price is right a reunion is possible.
-  Kris Bryant was named AFL MVP.
-  Renteria coaching staff should be announced early next week with Mariano Duncan, Bill Mueller, Henry Blanco, Alex Cora, Mike Borzello, Gary Jones, and Bruce Fields rumored as possiable coaches. 
-  The Cubs are already expected to bring back Bosio and Strode.
-  The Diamondbacks interest in Nate  Schierholtz is significant I am told.  They could part with Eaton or Pollock in an even swap.  Parra looks to be off the board.
-  The Pirates remain interested in Schierholtz but only as a back up option because they may trade for a big bat.
-  The Dodgers have interest in Starlin Castro.  They could dangle Zach Lee and Joc Pederson in a deal for him.
-  Jeff Samardzija will be shopped aggressively between now until the start of the season unless they can work out an extension.  The Cubs remain interested in signing him long term but a major sticking point is the NTC.  The FO will not give those out.
-  The Cubs could check on Corey Hart if his market remains weak.
-  There is still mutual interest between Scott Baker and the Cubs.

Until Next Time...

Saturday, November 09, 2013

My Top 50 MLB Free Agent Predictions!

Special shout out to for putting together their list of top 50 MLB free agent predictions.  They have inspired me to come up with my TOP 50 MLB Free Agent Predictions as well.  So read, discuss, and enjoy!!!!

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Quick Hits: Coaching Staff, Non-Tender, and More...

Quick Hits… maybe a bit slower than usual-


·         Rick Renteria is the new manager of the Chicago Cubs signing a 3 year deal with 2 option years.

·         The Cubs signed OF Aaron Cunningham to a minor league deal.  You can see Aaron’s stats here.  Could be a nice bargain or platoon player if he makes a splash in Spring Training.

·         Cubs Den lays out 5 starting pitchers the Cubs should consider.  Love the list and would approve of any especially Tanaka and Johnson.  But there is one pitcher I would like to add to his list; Roy Halladay.  Doc maybe coming at a discount because of his age and declining numbers but he is worth the gamble for sure.  He can look to increase his value on a non-contender like the Cubs and end up with the fate of so many other pitchers over the past 2 years.  Get dealt to a contender at the deadline. Amazinavenue does a great run down of Roy Halladay for the Mets.  Which tells me how does he not fit for the Cubs?

· last out some non-tender candidates which has Darwin Barney, Mat Gamel, and Daniel Bard as the only Cubs on the list.  Bard and Gamel are very possible but Barney has good trade value as a defensive minded middle infielder.  No way Barney is non-tendered.

·         In that same post they have some names that if they are non-tendered could interest the Cubs like OF John Mayberry, OF Nolan Reimold, OFJustin Ruggiano, OF Travis Snider, OFDrew Stubbs, P John Axford, PTommy Hanson, P Daniel Hudson, and P Jonny Venters.

·         Bosio will be back on a two year deal on Renteria’s new coaching staff.

·         If you combined the story put out by Chris De Luca and the tweet from Bruce Levine you pretty much have the new Cubs coaching staff filled up.  De Luca says A.J. Hinch is a strong possibility as a bench coach on Renteria staff.  He says the relationship between the front office and Renteria is really good.  Where Levine states Mariano Duncan, Alex Cora, and Henry Blanco are favorites for his staff as well.  So the way I see it right now is Hinch as Bench Coach, Mariano Duncan as Hitting Coach, Chris Bosio at Pitching Coach, Alex Cora as either 1st or 3rd base coach, and Hank White as Bullpen Coach.  That basically leaves one position left open which I would love to be reserved for Ozzie Guillen but it won’t happen.

·         Keith Moreland is leaving the Cubs radio booth and my favorites to replace him start in this order: Mark Grace, Doug Glanville, Todd Hollandsworth, Kerry Wood, Mark DeRosa, and then David Kaplan.


Until Next Time….




Saturday, November 02, 2013

Trade for Giancarlo Stanton

The title says it all.  While the rumors are circulating about Castro being traded I believe the Cubs need and should shift focus to dealing for an impact offensive player and not dealing away one.  Giancarlo Stanton will likely be the hottest and sought after name if he is actually put on the trading block.  All the signs are pointing that he will be shopped this off-season and some rumors have the Fish looking for young impact major league or near major league pitching to go pair with Jose Fernandez.  A name being tossed around is Garrit Cole of the Pirates but the Bucs maybe reluctant to pay such a big price let alone build a package around Cole for just Stanton.  This kind of scenario may just benefit the Cubs in a huge way because not only do the Cubs have an impact big league pitcher with a young arm still under contract for 2 years but they have a nice depth of prospects that could go along with to sweeten the deal.  But lets not get to ahead of ourselves.

So I ask why pay the large price for Giancarlo Stanton?

Giancarlo Stanton is a freak of nature standing at 6 foot 6 250 lbs at the ripe age of 23 makes him intriguing enough to call on.  But if you add that last season in just 116 games he had .365 OBP (ranked 27th), 24 homers (ranked 31st), and .845 OPS (ranked 24th) all on a bad team, in a pitcher friendly park, in somewhat of a down year, and a guy who is not even eligible for free agency until 2017 then you have a guy that you pay a hefty price for.   The dynamic marketing ability that Stanton brings along with his youth, yet experience in the ML, is almost unmatched around baseball.  He brings the youth, affordability, and impact talent the front office of any team drools over.  The fact is the Cubs do have a lot of offensive fire power coming through the minor leagues but adding Stanton to this current ML would be a much needed move now and also toward the future.  Lets face some realism here; not all prospects are going to turn out stars in the Cubs system.  Adding an All-Star to the Cubs current OF for the present and future lessens the sting if a prospect does not develop like they should or ends up a bust.  Ginacarlo Stanton is the player the Cubs need.

What about the concerns?

Of course with any player you are going to have concerns and Stanton is no different. The fact is Giancarlo Stanton has never played a full season in the ML due to being banged up or needing extended time off.  He has been on the DL or missed extended time with injuries or soreness to his knees, shoulder, back, and hamstrings.  That is a major concern for a guy who is only 23 years old but could it be corrected getting him away from playing 82 games on that artificial surface in Miami?  Who knows.  The good thing that while it is a major concern it is really the only concern.

The talent to give up for Giancarlo Stanton?

I could put this in the concern category but with any trade you make there will be some concerns so it is a moot point.  I believe the Fish will only deal Stanton for a mixture of young prospect and near major league (or major league talent).  I think acquiring a pitcher with front line ability to go along with Jose Feranadez will be there major focus which is extremely valuable right now in the current market.  As far as what the Cubs have to offer and willing to offer for Stanton is basically the same thing.  I do not think the Cubs front office will even think about trading Baez or Bryant because they would be creating a huge hole by acquiring Stanton.  I also feel bigger contract players like Castro and Rizzo are not likely to be dealt.  I think the most likely player the Cubs will be willing to part with and that would interest the Fish would start with Jeff Samardzija.  Although older than a prospect pitcher he has a lot of youth in his arm.  He provides the Marlins a nice one-two punch with Fernandez for at least two more seasons at an affordable rate.  After those two years are up the Marlins top talent should be major league ready and they could be looking to add more impact players for a playoff run which likely would include extending Shark.  Oddly enough it is the very situation the Cubs are currently in with Shark but acquiring Smardijza plus some for Stanton is enough to really spark the interest of the Marlins front office.

So if I feel Samardzija is the headliner of this deal then the rest of the package has to be lower talent? Right? Well... wrong!  Stanton for Samardzija plus some mid-level prospects are not going to cut it when you hear names like Jurickson Profar, Garrit Cole, and Oscar Taveras associated with Stanton in trade rumors.  I believe the Cubs will have to include one of Albert Almora or Jorge Soler to go along with Shark to keep the Marlins interest and the Cubs in the running for Stanton. 

So what about getting more of what the Cubs need?  Like....Lets say... PITCHING!!!!

I know one of the main reasons Theo and Co. will trade Samardizja is to acquire more young impact pitching that will be ready for the big playoff push which could likely start in 2015.  I think the Cubs can still get this in a deal with the Marlins that include Giancarlo Stanton.  Think I am on some illegal substance????  No way!  Say no to drugs and stay with me here!  I think if the Cubs front office is willing to add more players to the deal they can get that young pitching they covet in a deal for Samardizja.

Players like Welington Castillo, Arismendy Alcantara, Dan Vogelbach, Jeimer Candelario, Mike Olt, Dillion Maples, and Christian Villanueva could all be part of a package to get pitching prospect in return in a Stanton deal.  Most of you will see this as selling the farm but I am seeing this as dealing surplus to fill needs within the Cubs organization. Plus they won't deal all the players I have listed.

There are obviously more players within the Cubs farm system the Fish will covet that I do not have listed but Welington Castillo, Arismendy Alacantra, and Dan Vogelbach are 3 players I can see major interest from both parties.  Castillo has already been the subject of the early rumor mill given the fact the front office wanting to have a more balanced lineup.  Obviously dealing Castillo would leave a huge hole but cathers like Brian McCann (hit lefty) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (switch hitter) both are free agents and both have been linked to the Cubs already.  Arismendy Alacantra is a high prospect in his own right.  He is constantly ranked in the top 6 in the Cubs organization prospect rankings and is getting a lot of love from scouts right now.  He is a natural SS but handles 2b really well.  He again is depth on the Cubs prospect list crowded with infielders so he is expendable.  Dan Vogelbach also has the same fate as AA.  He is currently blocked by Rizzo (who is not going anywhere) and unless the DH comes to the NL then he has no place to play.  I believe if the Cubs add two of Castillo, Alacantra, and Vogelbach along with one of Soler or Almora plus Samardzija the package coming back to Chicago would be quite handsome.

So if the Cubs dealt Samardzija, Soler, Alacantra, and Vogelbach what could they get back from the Marlins?

Well first off I know they could acquire Giancarlo Stanton with that package but obviously the Cubs would get more in return. I believe the Cubs could get 2 of the following players in return plus Stanton for this package:

Andrew Heaney:  22 year old lefty with good stuff and ranked 43rd best prospect and 1st overall in the Marlins organization by Baseball America. See his scouting report here.

Justin Nicolino:  21 year old lefty ranked 86th best prospect in 2013 and 4 best in the Marlins Organization by BA. See his scouting report  here.

Anthony DeSclafani:  23 year old righty who was not ranked in the top 100 prospect list but is moving up the ranks.  First drafted by the Red Sox in 2008 so the interest is obviously there.  See his stats here.

Brian Flynn: 23 year old lefty who had a taste of the ML last season.  he is not ranked in the top 100 prospects list but is a very quality pitcher.  See his stats here.

Grant Dayton: 25 year old lefty who is a little old and over AA right now. He gets overlooked quite a bit but I love his make-up. See his stats here.

Jacob Turner: 22 year old Jacob Turner was once a top 25 prospect with the Tigers organization but has dropped some in the eyes of scouts.  He reminds me of when the Cubs traded for Travis Wood although Turner's numbers do look better and maybe more valued.  You can see his stats here.

I feel the Cubs could get any two of these players plus Stanton if they included the package of Shark, Soler, Alacantra, and Vogelbach with one exception.  I doubt they could get Stanton, Turner, and Heaney for this package.  It would likely have to be one or the other in respect to Turner and Heaney.


I feel the Cubs would benefit from acquiring Giancarlo Stanton and all the pros of dealing for him out weigh the cons.  I also believe the Cubs and Fish will extend the deal to prospects so the Marlins can get more high impact young positional talent while the Cubs get more impact talent on the mound.  After much discussion and research I see the trade playing out like this:

Cubs get: Giancarlo Stanton, Justin Nicolino, and Anthony DeSclafani.
Marlins get: Jeff Samardzija, Jorge Soler, Arismendy Alacantra, and Dan Vogelbach.

This deal benefits all and I feel this a very even trade.  Feel free to discuss, argue, and evaluate! 

Until Next Time...

Monday, October 28, 2013

Why is Torey Lovullo the Right Guy?

5 Reason why I think Torey Lovullo is the guy…


1.     The connection to Theo Epstein and the Boston Red Sox:  Lovullo previously worked under Theo Epstein as the AAA Pawtucket Red Sox in 2009 where admiration is plainly seen in the following quote:


My allegiance is to this group that’s been together for a long time,” said Lovullo. “I understand how the association happens because of Theo’s connection to the Red Sox and me being here when Theo was here. I think we have a mutual respect for one another. But we were on two different levels. He was at the big league level and I was in player development. I respected everything that the big league level stood for. There [were] no barriers between the front office and the manager, there was no disconnect with player development, and I know in time with that guy that sits in that seat there [in Chicago] with Theo that it’s going to be a pretty special relationship.”


2.     Minor League development:  He has spent 4 years in the minor leagues as a manager of the Buffalo Bison, Columbus Clippers, and Pawtucket Red Sox.  Anyone who spent time in the coaching leagues of the Indians and Red Sox farm system for a number of years deserves a look.  Both were ahead of the game when it came to advance statistics.  Not only that but both farm systems are usually full of talented players.  The Cubs in their own right have a large quantity of quality impact prospects that are likely to see the major leagues in the coming years.  Having a minor league manager with 4 years of experience in that capacity managing at the major league level is a huge asset for the Cubs prospects.


3.     Advance Statistics and Unified Vision:  By far the biggest asset that Torey Lovullo has is his knowledge and use of advance statistics which is outline perfectly in this fangraphsarticle.  It is essential and probably the most important thing to have the same vision as everyone in the organization from the 3rd base coach of Bosie to the owner of the Cubs Tom Ricketts.  That is something that was lacking with the Chicago Cubs coaching staff the previous two years under Sveum and something that is essential through this hire.  Torey Lovullo is a slam dunk here and that is what Epstein needs.


4.     Major League coaching experience:  It is becoming more apparent that the Cubs front office is less worried about Major League managing experience and maybe more inclined to take someone with ML coaching experience instead.  Out of the 7 rumored candidates only Wedge, Hinch, and Acta had major league managing experience and only Wedge and Hinch are left as finalist for the Cubs job.  Whereas Renteria, Martinez, and Lovullo have no ML managing experience but plenty of coaching experience at the ML level and only Lovullo and Renteria are left.  The fact that Lovullo has worked on two high profiled coaching staff being the 1st base coach of the Jays and bench coach of the Red Sox bodes well for Torey.  Having experience in the environment of big market teams puts him ahead of a guy like Renteria.


5.     His potential coaching staff:  To me when you talk about managers they are only as good as their coaching staff which again is a plus for Lovullo.  The connections he has made throughout his coaching and playing career has tea leaves leading us to some pretty impressive candidates for his staff like Sandy Alomar Jr., Alex Cora, and Brian Butterfield.  I talked about this at length here.


For these 5 reasons I believe Torey Lovullo would and will become the new manager of the Chicago Cubs….


Until Next Time…




Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Taking Shape: The Cubs New Manager & Coaching Staff

I see things really lining up right now in the Cubs manager search and all things point toward Torey Lovullo which just happens to be my top pick for manager.  Lovullo during his playing career played all over the infield for 7 different ML teams that included playing with previous managerial candidate Sandy Alomar Jr. but we will get back to that.  In 2001 he broke into coaching as a roving coordinator with the Indians but in 2006 he became manager of the Buffalo Bison (changed locations in 2008 to Columbus and became the Clippers) which is a AAA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians.  For the 2010 season Lovullo became the manager of the Pawtucket Red Sox where he learned a lot but struggled with a 66-78 record and failed to make the playoffs.  But regardless of record; in 2011 John Farrell named Lovullo 1stbase coach on his staff where he served for two season.  Lovullo then moved with Farrell to Boston but getting promoted to bench coach which is his position right now.  Lovullo is a great communicator, really baseball smart, and a big user of advanced statistics.  All which is shown in this Q/A with fangraphs found here.


To me Torey Lovullo is a slam dunk and a better candidate than Rick Renteria, Manny Acta, AJ Hinch, Mike Maddux, and Dave Martinez.  I think he is head and shoulders above them for various reasons stemming from working on developing players, coaching in big organizations like the Indians, Blue Jays, and now Red Sox, his alignment and philosophy on the usage of advance statistics, and compatibility with the Cubs current front office.  But what may make him a better pick is his coaching staff if he gets hired. Which if you read some links and tea leaves it is not hard to see some clear cut favorites for his staff. 


Let’s take a look at some candidates, their resumes, and my prediction on who will be on his coaching staff.


Brian Butterfield


A likely guy to be on his staff and could be managerial candidate in his own right.  Butterfield currently is the 3rd base coach for the Red Sox and Lovullo talks highly about him in the fangraphs Q/A especially in regards to defensive shifting.  But he does not have to say much because his experience speaks for itself.  He spent 5 years as a coach of the Arizona Diamondbacks.  He also was a minor league manager in the Yankees organization and the Columbus Clippers.  He then joined another big market team in the Blue Jays in 2002 until the end of the 2012 season.  Then as you can guess he moved to Boston as a 3rd base coach under Farrell.  Some perks of Butterfield is that he has a great reputation throughout baseball as a defensive genius where people like Orlando Hudson, Aaron Hill, and Brett Lawrie have give him credit for their defensive abilities and achievements.  Lawrie is known as one of the best defensive 3rdbaseman in the game. Hill is an above average 2nd baseman, and Orlando Hudson is one of the best defensive 2nd baseman in the past 10 years winning Gold Gloves in 2005 and 2006.  He is clearly a favorite to join Lovullo on this staff maybe even as bench coach.  Although he could fill in as bench coach on John Farrell staff if Lovullo leaves.


Sandy Alomar Jr.


He is a less obvious fit but he does have a relationship with Torey Lovullo in Cleveland both during the playing and coaching days.  Although the overlapping is obvious if you look at both their careers; assuming they have a relationship is a stretch.  But after talking to a couple of sources I have confirmed that Lovullo and Alomar Jr. both have great respect for one another, expressed interest in working together, and a spot on his team (even as bench coach) is likely.  It is also stated that Theo and Co. like the idea of a Latin influence on this team and Alomar would provide that along with the reputation of a good communicator, teacher, and youth developer. 


Joey Cora


Another smart baseball guy who is looking for a spot on a coaching staff and he should be able to find one in Chicago.  It is rumored that the front office will strongly recommend Cora for the new managers staff.  Cora has a great relationship with the Red Sox front office and has experience coaching under Ozzie Guillen which regardless of what people say is a plus. Again the Cubs want a Latin influence on this team with the amount of talent is coming up which he also provides.  I could see Cora as a base coach on the new coaching staff.


Bill Buckner


He is the most likely candidate to be promoted within the Cubs organization to the parent club.  Bill Buckner is gaining a lot of steam around baseball as a good hitting coach and young talent developer.  He has high praise from several prospects in the Cubs system as well as the front offices stamp of approval.  He will also likely be a strong recommendation from the front office to the new manager.  Plus the former Cub factor does not hurt at all.  I see him as the new hitting coach on Torey Lovullo staff.


Dave McKay


He worked wonders with Alfonso Soriano and has great respect around the game.  Again he will be another suggestion for the Cubs new manager.  This one I am less confident on than the previous suggestions because the new manager has to have some say with his staff.  But because of his experience around baseball and with this team I think he is a perfect candidate for 1st base coach again for 2014.


Chris Bosio


I am even less confident about Chris Bosio.  Although I think he did a remarkable job with the Cubs pitching staff the two years he was here the manager almost always dictates the pitching coach.  Lovullo has no prior relationship with Bosio and I am not so sure the Cubs front office would want any more ties to the last managing regime.  Kind of a toss up but I still think it is possible.  I really do not have a grasp on any other pitching coaches that Lovullo has deep connections to.


Derek Johnson


He is my wildcard on this coaching staff.  He is currently in the Cubs system as the minor league pitching coordinator.  Prior to that he spent 11 season at the Vanderbilt’s pitching/head coach where he earned National Pitching Coach of the Year in 2004 and National Assistant Coach of the Year in 2010.  Derek Johnson developed 6 big name first round draft picks named David Price, Mike Minor, Sonny Gray, Casey Weathers, Grayson Garvin, and Jeremy Sowers.  He has been a wizard with young pitchers and it known to get out the most of what he has to work with.  I am not sure if the Cubs front office would recommend or push for his hiring, if Derek would leave his position as minor league pitching coordinator, or if Theo would want to have him at the Major League level.  But one thing is for sure he would be a huge asset to this coaching staff for his knowledge and development.  For that he has to be at least a guy who will get a look.




Other Coaches


Assistant Hitting Coach:  I am unsure if the Cubs will go this route this time around but I would not be surprised if they did.  Not sure who really fits the bill here but Mariano Duncan would make a great assistant hitting coach (or just hitting coach for that matter) although I am not sure they will want to deplete their farm of the two best hitting coaches going to the parent club.  So in the end I feel this is an Unknown.


Bullpen Coach/Bullpen Catcher:  I think the Cubs should go with a former/current catcher as the bullpen coach and not a former pitcher.  I think the Cubs should hire Henry Blanco as bullpen coach.  There has been numerous GMs and media outlets including Jim Hendry and Bruce Levine that stated he would be a great coach/manager one day.  So why not bring back Greg Maddux’s personal catcher in as the bullpen coach.  I think he would do a wonderful job with the bullpen and also the Cubs would have a veteran defensive catcher that could be a mentor to Wellington Castillo (if he is not traded) to go along with Alomar.  In the end this is a big unknown but I am pretty fond of Hank White.



In the end the 2014 managerial staff will look like this:


Manager: Torey Lovullo

Bench Coach: Sandy Alomar Jr.

Pitching Coach: Unknown

Hitting Coach: Bill Buckner

Assistant Hitting Coach: Unknown

3rd base Coach: Brian Butterfield

1st base Coach: Joey Cora

Bullpen Coach: Unknown



In the end I think the Cubs front office and new manager will cut the ties to what was known as the “Dale Sveum” era. I also think Theo and Co. will get at least two of their recommendations on this coaching staff with Joey Cora and Bill Buckner. I think this is a very solid staff and the making of something really special on the north side.


Until Next Time..













Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cubs Manager Quick Hits

Nothing too much to write about so here are some quick hits-


·         Dave Martinez is likely to interview by the end of the week and have been quoted to be “very excited.”

·         Torey Lovullo is another guy who may start gaining some steam just like the recent trend with Renteria and Martinez.  Many of us have been on him for a while like Chicago Cubs Online, Cubs Den, and myself but to me he is more than a flavor of the week candidate. Read this Q&A from fangraphs here.  Hard not to love his approach.

·         Speaking of Lovullo he could actually interview before the Red Sox are out of the post-season if the Red Sox front office/coaching staff allows it.  Usually teams have stipulations on organization employees interviewing during the postseason but there has been exceptions.  Lovullo could interview on the Red Sox next off/traveling day which is Friday the 18th.  He could also be interviewed between the time the ALCS ends and the WS begins (if the Red Sox get pass the Tigers that is).

·         I honestly believe that Lovullo will the final interview and the front office could conduct 2nd interviews or make their decision from there. 

·         My preference for manager goes in this order Acta, Lovullo, Martinez, Renteria, and Hinch.

·         I do not believe there is any hidden or surprise candidates on the docket and those are the 5 the front office will pick from.

·         I am in the minority that feel the Cubs could get 2 of these candidates on the coaching staff.  Which one as manager and one as bench coach.

·         I am being told that Sandy Alomar Jr. will be considered a strong candidate for the bench coaching position regardless of who gets named manager.  The front office loves the idea of having him on the coaching staff but is just unsure about him being a manger of the Chicago Cubs.  There will be a strong recommendation for him to the new manager I am told.

·         The front office making coaching recommendations is not a new concept for any team.  Which is why it is no surprise the front office will also recommend bring back Dave McKay in some capacity, possibly Chris Bosio as pitching coach, and I am hearing the front office has been thrilled with the development and work Bill Buckner has done has hitting coach of the Boise Hawks.  Remember these are recommendations not requirements and it is more than likely going to be up to the new manager.

·         While all the qualities of the new manager that was laid out by Theo and Jed are all obviously important.  I am now told the usage and understand of advance stats, Latin influence, and development outweighs the rest including winning and management experience.  Although I am told by another source that if a guy like Hinch or Lovullo is hired the Latin influence could come way of a bench coach (ie Sandy Alomar Jr.) so that is likely not to hurt them as much as we would think.


Until Next Time..



Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Requirement: Chicago Cubs Coach Ozzie Guillen

So this morning while I went through my twitter feed I came across a wonderfully written article by Patrick Mooney of CSN on Ozzie Guillen and the Cubs.  I suggest you give it a read here.  In fact I suggest you give Patrick Mooney a follow on twitter because pretty much everything he writes is a must read.  But after reading his piece I came to one conclusion.  The Chicago Cubs need Ozzie Guillen as a coach on this team going forward.  


While I know that Ozzie likely would never be named manager of the Cubs with the current front office (which Mooney agrees with in his article). I do think he should not only be a candidate for the next coaching staff but he should be a requirement.  One thing the Cubs fans liked so much about Girardi and the reason why he ripped a lot of our hearts out yesterday is his passion for the Cubs.  As fans we want a manager who knows Chicago, loves the Cubs, and have expectations of what it takes to live the experience of being a part of the Cubs.  Joe Girardi had that and guess what?  So does Ozzie Guillen!  While he never played, managed, or coached for the Cubs he spent 19 years as a player and manager of the Chicago White Sox.  He knows the culture, has knowledge of the city, and knows what it takes to win here. 


But knowing these things and being passionate about the city of Chicago and the Cubs will not get you the “requirement” tag to put him on the coaching staff from me.  The fact that Ozzie is known as one of the best in game managers in baseball helps out tremendously.  His passion, drive, and the motivation he provides for his players is 2ndto none.  There were numerous times during post game press conferences Ozzie did something Dale Sveum never did; take all the heat off his players and put it on himself.  Whether you agree with Guillen’s tatics (or antics for that matter) is not important.  His leadership and the way he handles players is what this team desperately needs going forward.


Do not get me wrong Ozzie does come with some issues just like many managers.  Some of the things he has said and done have been disrespectful, politically incorrect, and sometimes can be seen as selfish or distasteful.  Such expressing his want for a contract extension through the media, making insensitive comments to Jay Mariotti, declining to visit the White House, the controversial illegal immigration comments in 2010,  and of course the Fidel Castro comment that had him suspended for 5 games in April of 2012.  Those are all issues that Ozzie has had and he paid the price for.  You get the great with the horrible when you have Ozzie Guillen on your team.  And everyone knows eventually Ozzie is going to do something that offends or embarrasses someone but I think there is less of a chance if he is a coach. 


Ozzie Guillen would be essential to this new Cubs staff for all the reasons above but one that may get overlooked is his teaching, development, and relation to his players.  Ozzie is known around baseball circles as one of the best teachers in the game.  He is a very hands on manager who works with veteran players and prospects alike.  He expects a lot from them and he gets the most out of them.  The other thing that gets overlooked is his relation to Latin players.  If anyone knows the struggles, expectation, and can relate to  Latin prospects coming up to the big leagues it is Ozzie Guillen.  Currently the Cubs have numerous Latin prospects who getting closer and closer to the big league level not to mention a current player named Starlin Castro (who Guillen thinks is an All-Star SS) who could use a mentor like Ozzie Guillen.  That one big glaring hole from the past years with the Cubs is that they had no Latin voice or influence on this team.  Fact is who better to relate to those up and coming prospects than Ozzie Guillen who is a great teacher, motivator, and went through the same thing as they did.  Having a Latin influence on this team is instrumental whether it be Guillen or someone else but you cannot do much better than Ozzie Guillen.


If anyone doubts Ozzie Guillen I suggest our read Patrick Mooney’s article I linked above and also watch this video from earlier this year from CSNChicago in a discussion with Ozzie.  Ozzie Guillen being a part of the Chicago Cubs coaching staff is a necessity regardless of who is manager. A necessity I would applaud and be ecstatic if the front office implemented. 


I am ready for Ozzie Guillen on the north side? Are you ready for “Ozzie being Ozzie?”


Until Next Time…




Wednesday, October 02, 2013

My favorite candidates for managing the Cubs

These are exciting times in the Chicago Cubs organization with the recent firing of Dale Sveum and letting the existing coaching staff “explore other opportunities.”  There are big changes on the way and it starts with the manager first and then the coaching staff.  So in this post today I thought it would be only right I discuss my picks for Manager of the Chicago Cubs. I am only accepting candidates I feel align with most of the front office outlined to the media for the qualities of the new manager. (Note: I sorted them by preference and it should be noted this is my list alone.  Although some of the people named on this list have been named or rumored as candidates for the job)



1.     Joe Maddon- This guy should be on the top of the list no matter what.  His philosophy, player development, excitement, experience, and success exceeds all expectations put out by the front office.  He whole heartily believes in advance statistics and what he has done with the players he has is nothing short of amazing.  He is 704-644 as a manager in his 10 year career.  Since 2008 he has had 84 or more wins in the most difficult division in baseball to win.  He was named the 2008 and 2011 Manager of the Year.  He made the ALDS 3 times in his career, ALCS one time, and has one World Series loss in his 10 years as manager.  He is highly accomplished and recommended which is why getting him away from what he and Friedman had built will be pretty much impossible.  Still should be the number one priority to at least check in on him. I would yell with joy if they got him.

2.       Joe Girardi- I have talked about him a lot and most of you are familiar with what he has accomplished as manager and his ties to Chicago.  What Joe has done with the Yankees this year and their injuries is nothing short of spectacular.  You combined that with what he did with the 2006 super young over-achieving Florida Marlins and you see two tremendous assets the front office adores.  I guy who can develop players while managing veterans.  A guy who is the complete baseball manager and if it is not for Joe Maddon then he would be #1 on this list.  I would jump for joy if they got Joe.

3.       Mike Maddux- Although Maddux does not have the experience the front office wants in managing or the hands on development but something cannot be ignored and that is the success he has had as a pitching coach.  We have seen some many pitching coaches become good solid managers like Bud Black, John Farrell, etc… I believe you can put Maddux in that category.  Not only does he have that going for him but he is well respect around the league and an advance statistics guy.  Something the Cubs front office requires.  I talked about Maddux in length in my “Managing a Theory” post here.  I also believe Mike Maddux has something to offer that many candidates do not have the leverage to do and that is to lure his brother Greg Maddux to the northside.  That is a huge selling point.  I would be impressed if they landed him.

4.       Manny Acta- Somewhat of a dark horse but should be near the top of the list.  Manny Acta’s resume is beyond impressive.  Manny has worked under Frank Robinson and Willie Randolph so he does have the old school back ground but he is also prides himself and employs sabermetric ideas and concepts.  In an interesting note in 1991 he served as a player/manager at the A level before becoming a full-time manager in 1993.  Manny has worked with the Cleveland Indians and Washington Nationals but was fired from both positions after first raising expectations then the following year not living up to them.  He is known for his teaching style, player development, and calm demeanor. His ethnic background is also a plus working as manager for the Tigres del Licey in the Dominican Winter League.  Which means he should relate better to the huge amount of Latin prospects the Cubs have in their system. Manny does not have the success in the major leagues but he provides the style, experience, and player development the Cubs front office is looking for.  If the Cubs hired Acta I would not mind it one bit.

5.       Sandy Alomar Jr.- Alomar Jr. breathes baseball and is one of the most respected minds in the game.  Being a former catcher his in game skills are above anyone else on this list with exception to Maddon and Girardi.  Almora worked under Acta during his time in Cleveland as is to be said a dynamic voice in the clubhouse which the Cubs front office covets.  Alomar has been a finalist for the Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Indians but has not been given a full-time gig.  The only time Almora managed in the big leagues was for the last days of the season after the Indians fired Manny Acta on September 27th.  Almora remains on the Indians staff as a bench coach for Terry Francona which remains a plus because he gets a firsthand observation of what Theo likes in a manager. Again I say his ethnic background is a plus for the prospects coming up through the system. The biggest weakness is the old school mentality Almora has in managing and the lack on firsthand experience.  He would be another solid hire that would be hard to get mad at.

6.       DeMarlo Hale- Not a sexy name but he has quite the resume.  Born in Chicago Illinois Hale has been pretty much every phase of the game.  First working at the Buck Dent baseball school in Florida for 4 years before then becoming a AA coach.  That alone proves he has worked with prospects in aspect to player development.  The other thing that is appealing is his experience in Boston being a manager of the year in 95 for Boston’s A affiliate.  He then was promoted to AA Trenton where he compiled a 92-50 record in 99 and was named Manager of the Year by Baseball America.  Before going back to Boston in 2006, Hale managed the Texas Rangers AAA team in 2000-2001.  He did so well there he became the first base coach and OF instructor of the Rangers until 2005.  He finally headed back to Boston in 2006 when he was named 3rd base coach replacing Dale Sveum.  He was then re-united with Terry Francona in Boston after working with him as a bench coach in Texas.  The years after Hale has been the 3rd base coach for the O’s and bench coach for the Jays. He also was a finalist for the managerial position with the Jays in 2010.  So while hale does not have the on-field experience his grasp of the minor leagues, player development, and learning curve is pretty unique.  Plus the added bonus of working under Theo and Francona as well.  I would be rather surprised if they did pick Hale but would not be upset if they did.

7.       Dave Martinez-  Studying under Joe Maddon since 2007 certainly help Martinez mojo but have a Cubs connection is also a benefit.  Again the thing that hurts him is not having that management experience but he does have experience working with youth, low payroll, and player development in the Rays organization.  Since 2007 the Rays are 458-352 under his watchful eye.  He, along with Maddon, both have advance statistics experience and mesh well with the front office.  Although Dave Martinez does come with some baggage with the whole Dave Martinez having a fling with Ryne Sandberg’s wife which is I am not sure would be a factor or not.

8.       A.J. Hinch-  Another guy that is intriguing and honestly not much more to say that CubsDen and  BleacherNation has already said.  Hinch would be somewhat of a disappointing hire for me personally because I expect more.  But if Jed has faith in him and has worked with him in the past hard to not trust a hire like Hinch.

9.     Pete Mackanin-  If the Cubs are considering A.J. Hinch then they need to consider Pete Mackanin again.  They essentially have the same background and circumstances but Pete is just older.  Check out all you need to know on Peter Mackanin here.  Chicago native and has a ton of experience in the minors with some major league managerial experience as well.  Also has the advance scouting to add to his resume and has been interviewed by the front office before.  Just like Hinch he does not excite me but I could see the fit.

10.   Ozzie Guillen-…………. Boom!


Honorable mention: Bud Black and Tony LaRussa.  Neither one maybe availiable but you have to check.  Both fantastic managers for sure!  I know there will a discussion on LaRussa so that that I say…..


Until Next Time…





Monday, September 30, 2013

On The Same Page...New Chapter

The Chicago Cubs fired Dale Sveum for all the right reasons today which is laid out by Theo and provided very nicely by CubsDen

Soon, our organization will transition from a phase in which we have been primarily acquiring young talent to a phase in which we will promote many of our best prospects and actually field a very young, very talented club at the major league level. The losing has been hard on all of us, but we now have one of the top farm systems in baseball, some of the very best prospects in the game, and a clear path forward. In order for us to win with this group – and win consistently – we must have the best possible environment for young players to learn, develop and thrive at the major league level. We must have clear and cohesive communication with our players about the most important parts of the game. And – even while the organization takes a patient, long view – we must somehow establish and maintain a galvanized, winning culture around the major league club.

I believe a dynamic new voice – and the energy, creativity and freshness that comes with this type of change – provides us with the best opportunity to achieve the major league environment we seek. We will begin our search immediately – a process which will be completed before the GM meetings in early November and perhaps much sooner. There are no absolute criteria, but we will prioritize managerial or other on-field leadership experience and we will prioritize expertise developing young talent. We have not yet contacted any candidates or asked permission to speak with any candidates, but that process will begin tomorrow morning.

Here is what I wrote just last Weds. in my piece named “This Off-Season is Predictable?” found here –

Move #1: Fire Sveum/Hire Girardi


Probably the first move that is going to be made this off-season is the firing of Dale Sveum and the hiring of Chicago native Joe Girardi.  The front office has asked the fan base, media, and players to be patient because this rebuilding process takes time but we ALL need something.  That something is the firing of Sveum and hiring of Girardi.  The move signals another big step in the rebuilding process.  A signal that says the Cubs are starting the process of competing by adding a manager who is a proven winner, talent developer, and overall beloved Chicagoan Joe Girardi.  By adding Joe they are stating “the organization has their guys in place that has experience with all phases of the managing game and he is going to take the Chicago Cubs to the next level and beyond.  Joe Girardi symbolizes the start of the light that leads us to the end of the tunnel.”  The fact is there has been too many red flags for the Dale Sveum era Cubs.  The recent turmoil in the clubhouse, the regression of core players, in game decisions, and various other things make a decision of firing Sveum easy.  But what makes it easier is filling his place with Joe Girardi.  This is the single most important move of the off-season and I now believe there is a 50/50 shot of it actually happening. (Note: I also tie in the coaching changes here as well.)

No need to call me a Cubs prophet or bowing down, that is not needed.  The fact is anyone could see the writing on the wall in respect to Dale Sveum hiring and the great possibility of Joe Girardi or someone like him being hired to fill role Chicago Cubs manager.  I think what I laid out and what Theo was quoted is about as right on as you can be and honestly it is the right thing to do.  Deep down I do not think Theo believed Dale Sveum was “the guy” to take them all the way but I do believe he was a guy Theo and Jed gambled on to see if he can become “the guy.”  The gamble did not pay off the past two years thus where we are right now.  The writing has been on the wall since June which I expressed my frustration back then found here.  Back then I questioned whether he was the guy and once again the front office has proved I was correct in thinking so. 

Now it becomes the stage of finding that guy to take them to the next level.  The guy to fill the void as manager and excel in all those things Dale Sveum didn’t.  I think the front office has a few managers in mind that they would love to hire with one near impossible to get in Joe Maddon and one that looks almost too good to be true in Joe Girardi.  I think both would be a fantastic land for this front office.  But I also would not count out Mike Maddux who was the front office’s first choice during the last go round.  I guess the only thing left to do is watch the process, analyze, and wait to see if once again Theo and I are on the same page.


Until Next Time….