The baseball season has come down to a 3 game series with the Red Sox knotting up the series 2-2 on the strength of Clay Buchholz's pitching and Johnny Gomes's 3-run shot.
Try to make sense of the managerial search
Meanwhile the Cubs wait for the series to talk person-to-person with 6th candidate Torey Lovullo. Eric Wedge has not been formally interviewed, though he did have a phone conversation with the team.
In case you missed it, Ken Rosenthal announced A.J. Hinch and Rick Renteria would get 2nd interviews, but Patrick Mooney says that is not the case, though the two candidates are still in play. Mooney has been on target so far, so we'll hold off a bit on that Rosenthal version.
Mooney also says that sources are sending signals that Brad Ausmus may get an interview and is definitely a factor in the search and that Manny Acta is not a primary candidate right now. I have heard from my own sources that Dave Martinez isn't a major candidate either.
If the Cubs continue the same pattern as last season, they will eventually choose 3 candidates for 2nd interviews. Renteria has long been considered the favorite but A.J. Hinch is the outside-the-box candidate whose unique experience working closely with prospects makes him an intriguing candidate. Even though the Cubs haven't come out and formally said it, I believe they are leaning toward those two right now, but with 2 to 3 other candidates yet to interview they cannot really say that right now.
What if the other 3 blow the Cubs away? Not likely, but possible. If the Cubs indeed want to narrow the list to 3 again, it would put them in a difficult position.
For what it's worth, assuming Acta and Martinez are out, I'm hoping the final 3 are Hinch, Ausmus, and I think Renteria's bilingual ability gives him the edge over Lovullo for my 3rd choice, though I do like Lovullo a lot and he'd be my 3rd choice if Ausmus doesn't get an opportunity.
Masahiro Tanaka top priority
We've been reporting this for almost 2 months, since this September 5th article, but Phil Rogers formerly of the Tribune and now with MLB.com reported this weekend that Masahiro Tanaka will be the Cubs top priority this offseason.
It makes a ton of sense because it will only cost the Cubs money. And even though it may be an overpay in terms of dollars, it will not cost the Cubs any long term assets in terms of players or draft picks. Considering the Cubs are still trying to build, that is a key for them. Rogers believes the competition will be as strong or stronger than it was for Yu Darvish because of Darvish's success with Texas. That has added to the confidence that Tanaka can succeed in the MLB.
The Cubs certainly have contingency plans in place and some speculation has them willing to consider moving Castillo, but only if they acquire a lefty hitting young catcher (i.e. Jarrod Saltalamacchia) and if they can get a strong return for their up and coming backstop. If he were to enter the market, I have heard that the Dodgers, Rays, Marlins, and even the Astros could come calling despite the presence of their own top young catcher, Jason Castro. If that is indeed true, I'm imagining here that the Astros are just in the business of collecting assets or that Castro himself would be involved in the deal. Either way, that seems like a pretty big stretch.
But the Cubs are also in the business of collecting assets and trading Castillo makes little sense unless the Cubs can deal him and still somehow increase their overall inventory of potential pre-prime core players. I think it's a long shot but an angle the Cubs may have to consider if other avenues are closed.
The DH coming to NL?
Not yet, but Bud Selig didn't rule it out, according to this piece by Paul Hagen, who covers the Athletics for MLB.com. The appeal to the Cubs, of course, is the ability to add another hitter to the lineup. We talked about Dan Vogelbach and how some scouts rave about his hitting ability and that while he has improved his defense, it is still below average. It would go a long way toward solving the Cubs lack of LH hitters in the minors. With the prerequisite disclaimer that "not all prospects pan out", Anthony Rizzo and Dan Vogelbach in the middle of the Cubs lineup along with Bryant, Baez, Soler, Almora and Castro sounds downright scary.
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