The GM meetings are over but the team will meet again at the winter meetings which run from December 9th through December 12th. Of course, that doesn't mean the Cubs won't make any moves before then, so we'll still keep our eye out.
The Cubs have yet to fill out their coaching staff but I did hear some good things about Rick Renteria, so I'm feeling better about that hire everyday.
Here are some news and notes to start the day...
Arizona Fall League Championship
We saw some top Cubs prospects lead Daytona to a Florida State League championship last season and now we are seeing a few more lead the Mesa Solar Sox for a shot at another title -- the Arizona Fall League championship. The game is on at 2 p.m. CT and can be seen on MLB Network.
Here are some of the key Cubs prospects for the Solar Sox
- Dallas Beeler will start the championship game for the Solar Sox. Beeler is 4-1 with a 2.49 ERA and has walked just 5 batters in 21.2 innings.
- Kris Bryant leads the AFL with 6 HRS and a 1.184 OPS. He's hitting .364/.457/.727 on the year.
- Despite being one of the youngest players in the league, 19 year old Albert Almora has thrived, hitting .307/.342/.480 and seemingly making at least one spectacular defensive play a game.
- Jorge Soler still isn't 100% and hasn't played baseball since the all-star break but he has held his own with a .271/.311/.376 line.
Radio booth candidates
Bruce Miles runs through a list of candidates for the Cubs vacant radio color analyst position. He says that while it's in the early stages, we can already rule some candidates in and out. And some of the names may surprise you.
Out: Kerry Wood, Mark Grace, Rick Sutcliffe, and Eric Karros.
In: Dave Otto, Todd Hollandsworth, and Ron Coomer
Coomer is the surprise name here. Like Miles said, it's still early, so I'm hoping to see Mick Gillispie added to that "in" list soon.
Keep Samardzija and trade...EJax?
Jeff Samardzija has been the hot topic in Chicago. Teams have been calling on him and with good reason. He's better than any free agent on the market with the possible exception of Masahiro Tanaka, he's cheap for two years, and he is still relatively young innings wise. He's a tremendous athlete with excellent stuff.
It's not a slam dunk that the Cubs will trade him. They will try and see if they can hammer out a deal this offseason. Some here, including our man Fels, think the Cubs need to keep Samardzija and I agree -- if they can extend his deal in a way that makes sense for both sides. I've also heard similar sentiment from some in the industry.
Samardzija ranks 18th in all of baseball in xFIP the past two seasons, his fastball is among the 2 or 3 best in the game, and his splitter was just ranked as the 3rd most unhittable pitch among starters. He's also a leader and a strong competitor. Shouldn't the Cubs be building around guys like that?
Meanwhile, MLB Network's Jim Bowden (h/t Michael C.) reports the Cubs are shopping Edwin Jackson and are willing to pay part of his remaining salary. I don't have confirmation on that but it's an interesting idea. Much of Jackson's money was paid upfront and he isn't outrageously priced at $33M oer the next 3 years. If a team wants to gamble on a good arm at 5-7M a year, it may end up being a better idea than paying big on the free agent market. The stuff is still very good and his peripherals were pretty much in line with what they have been in recent seasons. I think Jackson will bounce back and have a solid year, but his upside isn't the same as Samardzija's.
Alternatives to Jacoby Ellsbury
I asked a few people about Ellsbury and nobody seems to think he makes a lot of sense for the Cubs. Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus was among those who think the Cubs should pass. I also asked an industry source who doesn't think the Cubs should sign Ellsbury -- even at 5/6 years and 80/90M. A couple of interesting alternatives he gave were Nate McLouth and trading for Logan Morrison.
McLouth provides the kind of plate discipline the Cubs like, walking at an above average rate of 8.9% while providing some pop with 12 HRs. He's no longer a great centerfielder but he can play an above average LF.
It's hard to believe Morrison just turned 26. He's a LH hitter with very good plate discipline, walking in 11.4% of plate appearances in his career. At 6'3", 245 lbs., he has the size to hit for power and did hit 23 for the Marlins in 2011. He's a below average defender at every OF position.
McLouth would make a nice stopgap but Morrison has a shot to be more of a long term piece if he can stay healthy, regain his power, and improve his defense. If they can buy low on him, I'd like to see the Cubs give him a shot.
Odds and Ends
- Big League Futures talked with Jason Parks on a variety of baseball hot topic issues.
- Patrick Mooney also addressed the possibility of trading Edwin Jackson in his piece today. Teams are also interested in Nate Schierholtz and, of course, Jeff Samardzija.
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