The season is winding down and while other teams are clinching playoff spots, the Cubs news centers around pretty much what you'd expect from a last place team
In the rumor mill...
- Heard from a source that the Cubs are looking up to lock up Travis Wood to a 5 year deal. We posed the question back in May as to whether Wood was becoming a core player and it appears that the Cubs may indeed be thinking that way. The Cubs are looking to buy out two of Wood's FA years and it's no coincidence that he becomes arb eligible this offseason.
- I'm also hearing the money may indeed be there for a serious bid on Masahiro Tanaka. The Tanaka situation will be the biggest one to watch for Cubs fans this offseason as the Cubs look to add a top of the rotation type, which they believe Tanaka can be in the MLB.
Around the web...
- Carrie Muskat writes that Gioskar Amaya will be one of the players the Cubs will experiment with moving to catcher. I like the idea because he's athletic, intelligent, and has great instincts and makeup. His bat would play very well there. (h/t @davidjlindholm)
- Wes Darvill will take Javier Baez's spot on the AFL roster while Albert Almora will play full time now. “He’s an interesting player and does a lot of things well on the field and has good instincts,” Theo Epstein said. “It’ll be a nice opportunity for him.” I was also surprised to hear that the Cubs were pretty high on him from my conversation with a team official earlier this year. He's always had talent and athleticism and this year he has gotten physically stronger and started to come around with the bat.
- Desipio.com has an interesting take on the Dale Sveum situation and they don't seem to be buying the rumors either. The guess is he'll be here for 2014, but not 2015. They cite a lack of communication as a reason for concern as well as whether they think he can handle the development of his young players, the latter which is difficult to pin specifically on Sveum. My take on this is pretty similar. I think the only way the Cubs fire Sveum is if they feel keeping him is detrimental to the future of the team but I'll be surprised if they lay the blame on him for what happened with Starlin Castro and, to a lesser extent, Anthony Rizzo. I do think it's possible that the Cubs have decided not to grant an extension, but I'd be surprised if the Cubs made the change this year when they aren't expected to win in 2014 anyway. And there may be some self-interest involved too. What happens if the Cubs don't start winning in 2015 for whatever reason? The Cubs aren't going to be able to point fingers at the manager. If they can't win with Girardi, then it must be the talent -- and who is in charge of stocking the team with talent? Where is the finger going to point if the Cubs don't win in the next two years? A move just seems premature and while I think the Cubs may indeed make a change soon, I don't think they'll do it this year. They will likely wait until they are closer to winning. That is not to say that Dale Sveum was hired to be a Point A to Point B manager. I think they fully intended that he'd be the long term guy, but that's not to say they may have changed their minds on that.
- Brett from Bleacher Nation goes over the different scenarios and concludes the Cubs will most likely pick 4th. It's early right now but 4th is about the lowest I'd like to be heading into the draft. There seem to be 4 players who are most often mentioned at the top right now: LHP Carlos Rodon, SS Trea Turner, RHP Jeff Hoffman, and and high school flame-thrower Tyler Kolek. A lot can change between now and June and it's likely that other players will rise while one or more of the top 4 may drop. The Cubs have drafted well and built a top farm system, but it would still be important to keep re-stocking as some of the Cubs best prospects will be in the bigs by next season and 2015. But I really hope this is the last time the Cubs draft this high.
- Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports writes that GM Jon Daniels was pressured into making the deal for Matt Garza but Daniels has since refuted the accuracy of that report. It certainly seemed at the time that nobody was pursuing Garza as strongly as the Rangers were, but Daniels has been known to be a fan for quite some time now. Barring a late season run and some success in the playoffs, it's looking more and more like the Rangers manager Ron Washington won't survive the offseason as the Rangers late slide means they are in danger of missing out on the wild card after getting eliminated in last year's wild card game. Things seem to be going in the wrong direction. Of course, like the Sveum situation, if Texas can't win with whomever is the new manager, will fingers start pointing at Daniels?
- In the "it could be worse" category, the Houston Astros drew a 0.0 rating for their game on Sunday. None of the Nielsen Rating households watched the Astros game. That is not to say that nobody watched it at all, but this is apparently the first time that has happened. I'm not a big fan of how the Astros have punted 3 straight seasons for the top draft pick and it seems the fans are speaking loudly with their silence. I think you should always build the team as you think you should without pandering to fans, but to totally disregard them? The Astros have built a solid system, but what if some of these guys don't pan out? What if someone gets hurt? Do they just keep doing this until it works? Right now they seem a long way from contending and if things don't bounce their way, it could end up being even longer. Hard to say how this will turn out. It could be a dramatic turnaround or it could be an unbridled disaster. Either way it's worth watching.
- Jeff Samardzija reached the 200 IP/200 K club in his last start. The other members of the club: Clayton Kershaw; Justin Verlander; Cliff Lee; Chris Sale; Adam Wainwright; and Max Scherzer. That's pretty good company. There is no question that Samardzija lacked the consistency that those other pitchers had, but the talent is there. Samardzjia also spoke out in support of Sveum, though he understands that rumors come with the territory when the team doesn't win, “We love Dale and we want him here,” pitcher Jeff Samardzija said. “But it’s no different than a lot of the free agents we have on this team. A lot of futures are uncertain. Everyone’s playing for their job."
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