New Look Cubs Begin to Take Shape

Lost in the hoopla surrounding the Cubs since the end of the season was the little matter of deciding Mike Quade’s future.  Even if we, and most Cub fans knew that Mike Quade was not Major League manager material, the Cubs brass

Dale Sveum is Introduced as the 52nd Cubs Manager

needed to make that official.  Shortly after the Cubs front office was completely re energized, the no brainer decision to let Mike Quade pursue other opportunities, most likely in the minors or outside of baseball was made.  We will give Epstein some credit here with the way he handled the process of letting Quade go, very professional.  He made multiple trips to meet with Quade, and had a number of conversations with him and others in the organization to see if he would be a good fit, not based on what he had done it the past, but where he thought, and wanted this team to go in the future.  Clearly, Quade’s idea’s did mesh with the idea’s of the new regime that was now in place, and he was let go from his two year deal that had one year remaining on it.  Epstein and company didn’t have to go far to find the 52nd manager of the Chicago Cubs, just a short trip up I-94 to Milwaukee to find Dale Sveum.  Sveum, serving as the third base coach in 2004 with the Red Sox, won a World Series title with Epstein.  Since 2006, Sveum was on the Brewers coaching staff with titles ranging from third base coach, to bench coach, and to most recently hitting coach.  Sveum did get a crack at the managerial position albeit a short one in 2008 when he took over for Ned Yost and led the Brewers to a 7-5 record down the stretch and a NL Wild Card berth.  Along with Sveum, the following coaches will be joining the Cubs this season...

  • Bench Coach – Jamie Quirk
  • Pitching Coach – Chris Bosio
  • Third Base Coach – Pat Listach
  • First Base Coach – Dave McKay
  • Returning Hitting Coach – Rudy Jaramillo

That pretty much sums up the organizational portion of the off season that we wanted to quickly recap for you, because we felt it was such an important part of the team and it’s future.  Next, we will discuss the Cubs moves up until this point of the off season.

**Free Agent Departures (New Team)**

  • Aramis Ramirez (Milwaukee Brewers)
  • John Grabow (two years too late) (Los Angeles Dodgers)
  • Carlos Pena (Tampa Bay Rays)
  • Ramon Ortiz (unsigned, probably forever)
  • Koyie Hill (St. Louis Cardinals)

Obviously the two names that stand out here are Ramirez and Pena.  Let’s start with Ramirez, it’s a tough situation considering he was the object of a lot of fans (and broadcasters) disappointment and blame for the Cubs past couple of seasons.  What a lot of people might forget is that like it or not, he was the best third baseman the Cubs have had since Ron Santo, and that is not something that is easily replaced.  On the other hand, it is very clear that the new regime in charge will not stand for lack of effort, especially on the defensive side of things.  Ramirez routinely turned routine ground balls into adventures, basically because he Roger Dorn’d them.  From an outsiders point of view, say, the people in Milwaukee, his numbers might make him look like a great option at third base.  While that might be true some of the time, his overall lack of effort in all areas of the game, and seemingly impossible stretches of not producing are mind numbing.  Carlos Pena was exactly who we thought he was, and did exactly what he was brought to the Cubs to do.  Cubs needed a left handed power threat, and that’s what he was.  He was only signed to a one year deal, so the fact that he wasn’t dealt at the deadline once it was apparent the Cubs were not going to contend was a little bit of a surprise, however, the Cubs will receive compensation from MLB in the form of a draft pick (sandwich) due to his type B-FA status.  The other FA’s lost to free agency were no more helpful than Koyie Hill’s three fingers, two and a half.

**Free Agent Acquisitions** (Noteworthy, kinda)

  • RF – David DeJesus (and Kim DeJesus)
  • C – Jason Jaramillo
  • RHP – Andy Sonnanstine
  • RHP – Manual Corpas
  • OF – Reed Johnson (Re-Signed)
  • RHP – Rodrigo Lopez (Re-Signed)
  • LHP – Paul Maholm
  • RHP – Kerry Wood (Re-Signed)

Obviously, one the most important areas of improvement via free agency for the Cubs was pitching depth.  Although the names might not jump out at you, the Cubs were able to snag their fair share of arms so far this off season.  Maholm is a

Cubs Sign Kim, I Mean David DeJesus

solid acquisition given the fact that the Cubs have been without a left handed starter since Ted Lilly.  He should be slotted to start the season in the Cubs rotation.  Kerry Wood, back for another season with the Cubs, will once again be at the back end of the bullpen, most likely setting up Marmol.  Lopez, Corpas, and Sonnanstine all have the opportunity to break camp with the big club, odds are they all might be fighting for the same spot out of the pen.  Reed Johnson will be back after his rather productive 2011 season with the Cubs.  Johnson will provide the perfect utility outfield support who is able to play all three positions.  Jaramillo will replace Hill as the backup catcher to Geovany Soto, a really nice signing in our opinion, should provide more of an offensive punch than three finger Hill. It’s clear that Epstein and Hoyer wanted to bring in baseball players with the acquisition of David DeJesus, he will play the game the right way, and be a starting outfielder where needed for this club, currently he is slotted to be the starting right fielder.

**Off Season Trades**

Cubs/Rockies Deal

Quick Hit-
Given the need at 3B, this deal makes a lot of sense for the Cubs.  Basically Stewart and Colvin are the same player, just at different positions.  Each player had one legit season at the Major League level, and then struggled, while bouncing back and forth between AAA and the active roster.  With the change in philosphy, Stewart makes more sense for the Cubs because he sees more pitches per plate appearance, as well as an increase in OBP compared to Colvin.  Cubs fill the need at 3B and hope to capture lightning in a bottle with Stewart.  Weathers, while not the focus of the deal, provides another depth arm for the organization which as mentioned before was something the Cubs wanted to get.

Cubs/Reds Deal

Quick Hit-
The fact that the Cubs could trade a relief pitcher and get three players, including a left handed 24 year starting pitcher is tremendous.  Sean Marshall has put up stellar numbers out of the Cubs pen the last few years, but given the direction of the team, and the fact that Marshall had only one year remaining under team control it was a no brainer to take this deal.  Furthermore, the fact that the new CBA eliminates compensation from MLB for the type of FA Marshall would be after this year played a big role in the deal.  Acquiring Travis Wood seems like a no lose situation for the Cubs, as he will be in the rotation or given every opportunity to be in the rotation.  He has shown the ability to have plus stuff at the Major League level, and it’s hard to pass that up given his upside.  Sappelt is another out fielder that has Major League experience, and has the  opportunity down the road to possibly make an impact.  Torreyes is a smallish second baseman who has hit at every level thus far, remains to be seen if he will ever

Cubs/Marlins Deal

Quick Hit –

I think most Cubs saw something like this coming for quite awhile now.  Given all the antics of Zambrano on and off the field that last few years especially, it seemed that was inevitable that Zambrano was on his way out of town.  The issue though was the huge contract ($18 million due in 2012) that Zambrano was not living up to.  With the decision made to remove Zambrano from the situation, that meant the Cubs were most likely going to have to eat most if not all of Zambrano’s contract.  In the past, under Hendry/Kenney, there was no way that would happen, enter Theo, and exit Zambrano.  In the end the Cubs ate all of Zambrano’s contract, minus the league minimum so it worked out to around $15 million eaten.  In return, the Cubs actually get a serviceable arm, which no one thought would be possible given the financial constraints involved in removing Big Z.  It is a shame that it had to come to this, Zambrano has all the talent in the World, and the Cubs gave him every opportunity, too many in some Cub fans eyes, to succeed.  Unfortunately, that didn’t happen all to often, and a change of scenery probably does all parties some good.

Cubs/Padres Deal

Quick Hit –
I don’t see how this can be looked at as anything other than a tremendous deal by the Cubs.  Anthony Rizzo is currently the #1 rated 1B prospect by in all of baseball.  Rizzo had a taste at the big league level, but had some struggles, and a lot of that might have been based on the ballpark or confidence issues being that it was the first time Rizzo has struggled at any level.  He projects to be a fixture in the middle of the order for the Cubs for many years to come as he provides that big left handed power threat that the Cubs have seemingly needed for years.  Andrew Cashner goes the other way in the deal, which is probably the Cubs #1 pitching prospect.  The way the Cubs are looking at it, is Cashner is a guy that has had shoulder issues, and projects to be a bullpen guy more than a top of the rotation starter.  I don’t see how this trade could work out poorly for the Cubs, in the end I think it will look like a steal, it’s just a matter of how much of steal depending on how good Rizzo becomes.

Hope you enjoy the off-season recap, now that we are all up to date with everything that has happened this off season you can expect daily posts as we count down the days until baseball begins again.  Thanks for reading!

– George Cotugno & Mark Sorrentino

One thought on “New Look Cubs Begin to Take Shape”

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