Cubs offseason tidbits: Baez, AZL, Jackson, Vitters, McCarthy, TV deal

JavierBaez wasted no time making an impression in the AZ Fall League. He homered, doubled, and drove in three runs. Matt Szczur went 0-2 but contributed 2 walks and a sacrifice. Kevin Rhoderick pitched 1.2 innings and struck out 3 and Tony Zych struck out the only batter he faced. John will be at the games this week with more detailed recaps.

After suffering through a very ugly 100-loss season all we can do is look forward to this offseason. Though my enthusiasm is a bit tempered by the reality any improvements made may only be temporary. Theo Epstein has warned us that they may yet again trade away 40% of the rotation. I would like to see more pieces that could be a long term factor.

Epstein did mention just the other day that if the Cubs would have been sniffing contention they wouldn’t have made those deadline deals, or at least they wouldn’t in the future.

No one here can blame Epstein and Jed Hoyer for blowing this thing up when they arrived and trading for the future this summer. However I think it’s now time to start seeing some of that linear progress they say is so elusive. Epstein mentioned himself he would be disappointed if they didn’t see that progress by 2014.

Bruce Levine tackled some of the offseason issues in his most recent chat, so let’s take a look at some of the topics.

 Levine thinks Alfosno Soriano has improved his trade value with his strong showing this past season.

The real issue will be just how much the Cubs feel they have to eat out of contract, which almost certainly will be less than what they would have last offseason when it was said they were ready to swallow 80%. That was before Epstein realized Soriano wasn’t a determent in the clubhouse.

 The Cubs feel Brett Jackson’s issues are mechanical.

This is good to hear. The fact they have some hope they can work on Jackson’s swing much like they did with Anthony Rizzo’s. Winter Ball and maybe some more time in Iowa will help Jackson with repeating proper mechanics.

The Cubs can opt out of the WGN TV deal come 2014.

I’ve heard rumblings from one of my people that having their own Cubs Net type station is something they are looking at every which way possible. Look for this to happen just at the right time, when the Cubs are about to get good and spend in free agency.

 Brandon McCarthy would be a gamble but maybe one the Cubs would take.

This move would be at the top of my wish list. Why not spend some money on a 27 year old that could be a part of things going forward? Coming off some serious health issues could open the door for the Cubs to swoop in.

Scouts say Josh Vitters will hit, just maybe not for power and they question his ability to play third. 

The Cubs also don’t see Vitters as part of the future so he cold be included in any deals this offseason. Look for Vitters to get dealt and for him to have a Tyler Colvin like season thus enraging fans that don’t know what this front office is looking for in their players.

Levine says the White Sox tried to deal for Tony Campana this summer and were rebuffed by the Cubs, saying he wasn’t available.

This surprises me a bit, but not really. I could see the reason for keeping him just because if you did get him to improve his on base ability (not easy task) you could have a still young and very valuable piece. I’m sure this staff wants to still see what they could do with Campana before giving him away.

 Finally, Bob Brenly is working on an extension to stay in Chicago.

This comes on the heels of rumors of Brenly going back to Arizona to fill Mark Grace’s shoes. However, I heard Brenly's Arizona dismissal left  bad taste and he just loves working with Len Kasper. If Brenly were to leave it could be to do less games and take a national gig instead.






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  • I had a feeling that the new Cubs brass was not enamored with Vitters. It would surprise me if the Cubs don't try to trade him in the off season. Bob Brenly staying here is what I expect, he loves working with Len Kasper and and working for the Cubs. With Steve Stone stating he's staying as well, the Diamondbacks will have to look elsewhere.

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    I've never thought Vitters was part of the future in Epstein's and Voter's eyes. This just confirms that. Good stuff Tom!

  • I'm dissapointed to hear Brenly is probably staying. I can't stand listening to him. It pisses me off every time I flip past a White Sox game to hear Stoney on the South Side. I blame Dusty and his inability to control his clubhouse for Stoney's dismissal. Players were more concerned with what was being said about them in the press box than they were about winning ball games.

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    In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    I think BB is a better listen than Stone. Stone is a great analyst but his ego is only slightly smaller than Hawk's. He's loves to hear himself talk when he does his segments on the Score. That's my problem with Stone.

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    They both were really at fault for me and Stone and Dusty both guilty of being stubborn and they both ended up paying for it.

  • In reply to Ibleedcubbieblue:

    Brenly's grown on me this year, but I'd still much rather have Stoney. Or Grace for that matter. Kasper needs to go the way of the Dodo regardless, but I think he's under contract through 2016 or some such shit.

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    In reply to Carne Harris:

    Grace is a horrible announcer. I love Len.

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    Not sure ow the Cubs fill programming on a "Cubs Net" channel. The Bulls and Sox aren't going to defect from CSN and the Wirtz' family is tight with Reinsdorf so I doubt the Hawks leave. Northwestern and the Illini are locked into the Big Ten channel. Who do you get? DePaul, NIU, the Fire and the Wolves? Those teams aren't going to draw enough viewers to get strong advertising dollars.

    On another note, do the Cubs look at converting Vitters to LF?

  • In reply to Ken Roucka:

    "Not sure how the Cubs fill programming on a "Cubs Net" channel."

    Easy... Australian Rules Football!!

  • In reply to Ken Roucka:

    Yeah I was told it's not something imminent but they're looking hard at I would imagine they would be able to acquire some other programming somehow. Either way this deal they have now is screwing them.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Does ANYONE watch WGN during the offseason???

    Reruns of America's Funniest Home Videos are funny, but believe it or not watching dudes get hit in the bollocks does get old after awhile...

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    In reply to eaton53:

    The CW shows (all though not my cup of tea) are pretty highly rated.

  • In reply to eaton53:

    They have some Bulls games, and Stacey King is one of the most entertaining announcers in all of sports. Should the NHL lockout end, they've also got some Hawks games.

    Plus, the WGN Morning News is just great.

  • In reply to Ken Roucka:

    I'd like to see them fill it with their minor league teams, during the off-season with maybe stuff from the Caribbean or Mexican winter leagues.

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    In reply to SFToby:

    I'd like to see that too but once again what kind of ratings would they get for that and would that bring enough ad dollars to make the station viable?

  • In reply to Ken Roucka:

    I thought we were calling it Cubs Net, but you're correct. Problem is, with NBC having a new 24/7 sports channel and the universe of EPSN, most good sports is already called for. TV shows in syndication that are shot or take place in Chicago might work. I can see a fresh take on SCTV happening, starring current cast members. Programming from Kingston Mines or Buddy Guy's Legends might be nice. Cash Cab Chicago.

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    In reply to SFToby:

    We are calling it Cubs Net but even the Yankee network doesn't just cover the them. They carry Jets football, Arsenal soccer along with shows talking about boxing, running, NFL football etc.

  • In reply to Ken Roucka:

    While the Bears can't own a TV station as it is spelled out on the owners agreement for NFL teams, their is nothing that prevents them from producing Bears content and broadcasting it on a third party TV station ala Comcast Sports Net. I could see the Cubs working out some kind of agreement where the Cubs pay the Bear to produce Bears content to help fill air time. I'm sure the Bears would love to get a bigger piece of the media pie than what the get from Bears Post Game Live on CSN.

  • Nice comment on Vitters. Cool news on the WGN deal.

  • Updated with some Fall league info. I'll be at games for the rest of the week with more detailed recaps.

  • A long time ago, i said when the Cubs get their own network, they will be like the Yankees, Angels and Dodgers, where they can get "key" free agents to make this club a big time winner. I also said that free Cubs games will be gone forever. Unless a FOX station shows a game or two.

    By 2016, we can dip into the free agency pool on big name players......especially the pitchers.....Felix Hernandez available?

    Colvin had a great year because he is in Denver.........the ball flies out of there on a infield pop up.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    Oh for sure, Colvin is all right but not the mold Cubs want now. I look at Vitters exactly the same way.

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    If winter instruction does not go well for Jackson, he will also be in that group. I want Jackson and Vitters to do well, but with other prospects behind them, time is not on their side.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    I still think the Cubs don't have to over spend in FA. I would look at a suped up TB or Atl as more of a model?

  • In reply to Tom Loxas:

    completely agree tom. and unlike tampa or atlanta we could possibly be eating some money on these guys contracts in order to trade them to smaller market clubs, im not gonna overpay and then eat money that just doesnt make any sense.

  • The Cubs should try to trade anybody that does not fit their type of
    player or in their future plans. Vitters, LaHair, or Jackson? can try to
    be put in a package deal.

  • In reply to emartinezjr:

    I could see a team like Tampa Bay being very interested in LaHair. Not sure there would be a line of takers for Vitters. If anything, the Cubs should let him try and learn more positions so he can possibly have some kind of utility role in the future.

  • The HR that Baez hit yesterday went over the batting eye, probably over 450". I hope he returns to the FSL and hits the cover off the ball. He needs to show he can hit a curve.

  • In reply to SFToby:

    In case anyone wants to see the HR someone put it up on youtube:

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    In reply to SFToby:


  • In reply to SFToby:

    Love that sound.

  • As far as filling programming on a Cubs net station, I'm sure we could come up with some.

    "Cooking with Kerry"
    "Arrested Development" The Oneri Fleita story
    "Late night with Crane"

    The possibilities are endless

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    In reply to Tom Loxas:

    Extreme Make Over: Stadium Edition
    Extreme Make Over: Weight Loss Edition (Hector Villenueva)
    The No Spin Zone (Featuring Felix Heredia's curve)

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    Good comments on Vitters. If the scouting reports are true, that he will hit, but not for power, and can't play 3B, what value does he have?

    There isn't a great demand for contact-hitting LF'ers.

    I don't think it's a matter of Vitters not being "our guy" or "Theo's guy", it's that a non-power hitting LF is NOBODY's "guy". Just a spare part.

    I hope he can figure out 3B, but I'm not optimistic

  • At the end of the day I'm sure they would like to have found more of Hendry's guys more useful. I'm sure they will find a spot for many of them like Castro, Baez, Barney, BJax, and Castillo though.

  • Any time someone is mentioned from the Diamondbacks' 2004 team, there's still some bitterness that you can clearly hear. I didn't think there was any possible way he would leave to go work for the Diamondbacks again.

    I mean, if you listened to him go on about Edgar Gonzalez in the last game of the year, you could tell he wasn't a happy camper about being fired. To be fair, the guy puts up three winning seasons, wins an upset World Series his first season, but a bad start to a season, and he's done as a manager.

    Plus, Len and Bob used my idea of the TV/radio announcer switch for half an inning, something I've had thought up since back when Santo was doing WGN Radio. So, for that, I really don't want to see Len and Bob split.

  • Definitely would be in favor of them taking a chance on McCarthy. Lots of upside.

  • RIP Bill Jauss. He was one of my favorite sportswriters, EVER!

  • In reply to SFToby:

    Bill Jauss and "Mongo" on the same day......
    I am so depress today by this news.....
    I picked the wrong week of stop sniffing glue.

  • In reply to CubsTalk:

    You scared me there. I thought you were referring to Steve McMichael.

  • on the tv network: they could definitely do a hard knocks type of show for the cubs, or one of their minor leauge teams, trading off each season. this way ud either get an inside look at the cubs or some of their more high profile prospects. i think people would watch that.

  • I see that minor league baseball put up the Cubs organizational all stars, one surprise, at least to me was John Andreoli.

  • There is talk about Bob Brenly going to Arizona Network and Mark Grace coming to the Cubs......

    the deal is on hold to see who will pick up Grace's bar tabs & bail for the next three years.

  • I don't understand the comment about Vitters not hitting for power. He just put up a .210 ISO his first year in AAA, and while his BB rate of 6.6% is still below average, it marks a large jump for him.

  • I doubt Brenly will be going anywhere, he's lucky to have the gig he has, ask Stoney, he'd love to get back to the cubs.

    Too bad Vitters is struggling, but he still has a chance to get things right and contend for a roster spot with the cubs. Although it may be that either Castro or Baez grow into the third base job first.

    Good to hear the Cubs can get out of their tv deal. Someone said the recent buyers of the dodgers, who paid about 1.5 billion, were really buying the tv rights to the team and the 3 billion foxsports tv deal. The new owners basically are guaranteed to double their money over the 20 year tv deal, that's 5% a year for twenty years, without having to make a nickel from the team's other operations and sales, win or lose. The Rickets paid basically the same, if you count the 400 million stadium liability they aquired with the team, but their media deals put them in a hole realative to teams like the dodgers, depending how you value their current tv deal, of as much as a billion bucks. If the cubs can jettison the wgn tv deal in 2014, the view in the owners box is about to get much sunnier.

    I wish they would hold off on that extra row of seats behind home plate for this reason. It isn't going to be needed and won't add significant revenue compared to the stadium luxury boxes and the new tv deal. It risks ruining the view and the proportions of the ballpark. The brick wall behind home is one of the most imitated parts of wrigley. It would be a shame if the original becomes a travesty of greed over tradition and elegant simplicity. Besides this move reeks of Crane Kenny, and if it his idea it is almost certain to be a disaster. Don't let kenny foul up cubs fans daily view of their ballpark and their team!!!!! EVery time we see a center field camera shot with the wall coming up to the batters knee's we will have to think of that tribune carbuncle.... Wise up ricketts, don't do it.

  • They already moved the wall once.
    No ill effects.
    Don't worry.

  • In reply to eaton53:

    Less foul territory makes any park more of a hitter's park.

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