I know not all of you are minor league fans -- especially as deep as we're getting into with the last 3 pieces, so let's check around the net for the latest on Cubs news...
- Won't go very far for this one as our own Felzz notes that Starlin Castro is hitting well now that he has been freed from constrictions. He went 3 for 4 yesterday and, if nothing else, ends the year on a high note. I still think at least some of Castro's issues came about because he seems eager to please and listen to everyone rather than taking the advice and incorporating it into his own style. I believe that will happen now that he is being aggressive in the strike zone again, talking more balls up the middle. Some of that pitch selection stuff will stick and while he probably won't ever be a walk machine, he can at least see more pitches and wait for that one he can drive.
- Paul Sullivan writes that the Wrigley renovations are hitting a snag. According to Sullivan, "Ricketts remains leery about building the left field video scoreboard and large right field advertising sign that are key sources of ad money because owners of rooftop buildings overlooking the park haven't guaranteed they won't sue if the boards block their views." It's getting to be quite frustrating and it's already known that the Cubs won't have that extra revenue to spend this offseason -- though I don't think that will stop them from pursuing Masahiro Tanaka and perhaps a trade or two.
- Hunter Pence is going to sign for 5 years and $90M which makes you wonder what it's going to cost for guys like Jacoby Ellsbury and Shin-Soo Choo. I'm fading fast on the possibility of signing those guys and I'm beginning to believe that Tanaka will be their only serious pursuit this offseason. I do believe they'll explore trades but I'm hearing David Price is very unlikely, they'll kick the tires on Giancarlo Stanton but the price is exorbitant in terms of prospects. Carlos Gonzalez remains a possibility at the right price in terms of prospects and finances. It's also possible the Cubs could try to get involved in a 3 team deal to try and lessen the prospect cost.
- Dale Sveum will be the story until Monday and there will be all kinds of speculation between now and then. I think my view most closely aligns with Patrick Mooney of CSN and Brett Taylor from Bleacher Nation. That's not saying other views are wrong, but their thought process on the matter is one I can relate to. It strikes me as a balanced, even-keeled appraoch which as you all know, is how I usually try to approach things. Mooney writes that Ausmus is not on the radar yet and I do trust him on that, though we have a reliable source that believes he'd be on that short list. At any rate, even though it's speculation, I think that Ausmus would be an interesting choice and one that should be considered. He only lacks experience.
- More on Sveum: Epstein addressed the media and promised to clarify the situation on Monday. A couple of interesting sound bytes came out of that and, of course, they're open to all sorts of interpretation. One interesting tweet came from ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers, "Theo Epstein says there will be clarity on any coaching decisions on Monday. But was adamant his previous comments meant nothing significant." His previous comments had to do with the announcements coming on Monday -- which leads you to think, why would he say the comments about upcoming changes didn't mean anything significant. Wouldn't a manageria change be a significant announcement? More than likely, he probably just wants people to stop reading into his every word.
- On that last note, one thing that I've been adamant about is that I believe the Cubs are just following process and that we shouldn't read anything to the Cubs waiting until Monday to make their announcement. Theo seems to back up that line of thinking with this quote, "The whole process is evaluation, discussion, decision, inform, announcement," Epstein said Friday. "That's what I refer to as the 'process' in making changes within the organization." I posed a question to ESPN Chicago's Jon Greenberg about whether the Cubs had the same timetable last year -- only we didn't pay attention because nobody was speculating Sveum would get fired. Now that the speculation exists, perhaps we're reading too much into the announcement date. That's not to say Sveum will stay or not stay, just that I don't think the timing has anything to do with it either way, nor do I think it directly has to do with Girardi. It's their normal process and I don't believe they'd change it over things they cannot control or for anything on which they don't have complete information.
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