I'm glad the weekend is ending.
Both Saturday and Sunday were the kind of days when nothing seemed to go right, so I'm glad we're rolling into Monday. Does that make me crazy?
But this should also be an eventful week for the Cubs and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens. We'll finally be able to close out the manager situation (assuming the Cubs hold to their self-imposed November 11th deadline) and we can really start focusing on players again. Let's start there again.
Free Agent Talk
Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors published his predictions of where their top 50 free agents will go and they only have two players going to the Cubs: Closer Joaquin Benoit and OF Chris Young. You may remember that we mentioned Young as a possibililty as well.
Other free agents of note include Masahiro Tanaka to the Dodgers, OF Jacoby Ellsbury to the Mariners, Shin-Soo Choo to the Tigers, Brian McCann to the Rangers, Jarrod Saltalamacchia to the White Sox, and Suk-Min Yoon to the Royals. He has former Cub Matt Garza going to the Nationals.
Although Dierkes only has two players going to the Cubs, he connects a few others as possibilities. They are:
- Ubaldo Jimenez
- Curtis Granderson
- Omar Infante
- Josh Johnson
- Fernando Rodney
- Juan Uribe
Outside the Box Closer Thoughts
It seems to me that Benoit would be more money than this team likes to spend on a closer, so just for fun, I asked an industry source what he thought about the Cubs going outside the box for a closer and try Phil Hughes in that role. His response was that he could probably be a solid reliever but that it's more likely he'll go to a team in the AL or NL West where he can re-establish himself as a 4/5 starter. He mentioned the Mariners, Dodgers, and Giants among others as possibilities.
One name he thought the Cubs should pursue -- if available -- is Tommy Hunter, who is eligible for arbitration and due to make $3.1M in 2014. He's 27 years old, he throws strikes (1.46 BB/9 IP in 2013, 1.70 for career) and averaged 96 mph in his first full season out of the bullpen. He's a product of the Texas Rangers system but has most recently pitched for the Baltimore Orioles. Last year he went 6-5 with 4 saves and a 2.81 ERA. His FIP wasn't quite as good at 3.68 in part because of a low BABIP and a high strand rate.
Hunter is not considered a non-tender candidate by MLB Trade Rumors but we won't rule it out. Perhaps the Cubs can look to make a minor deal if he is tendered.
Interesting outside-the-box idea to say the least and a real chance for the Cubs to create some value in that closer's role instead of paying someone for past performance.
I'm not going to rehash names. We all know who they are. We know they'll decide before the GM meetings (November 11th). But I had an interesting conversation on Twitter with Mike Pinto (smart baseball mind who you should really follow on Twitter @mikepinto3) that I thought I would share. He reminds me that it really doesn't matter what we think of as fans or what the media thinks. The Cubs front office has always considered fans talk/sports radio/media as just "noise". They will hire the candidate they feel is best for the team without regard for opinion outside the industry.
They have an extensive, incredibly detailed process and generate way more information on candidates than anyone of us on the outside looking in -- including media and even the non-front office members within the organization itself. In the end, we're all going on bits of information and drawing our own conclusions. But in all honesty, none of us truly know.
After all, these are the guys who replaced a successful, winning manager with Terry Francona, a guy who had losing records in each of his 4 seasons in Philadelphia. I don't even think Dale Sveum is a bad manager. I am of the opinion that we have looked at this "mistake" backwards. This was a front office who was just getting to know their new organization, even to the point that they have admitted they've made mistakes early on they wish they could have back. So while they really were extensive in their research and interview process when they hired Sveum, then had to fire him 2 years later, I think the "mistake" stemmed more from the fact that they didn't yet fully grasp the needs of the organization. In other words, I'm willing to bet Sveum isn't a bad manager, but that he was not right for the organization. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he won somewhere else.
I enjoy speculating and determining my favorites for the managerial position as much as anyone, but like it or not, the front office is going to do what they feel is best for the organization -- an organization that they now know extremely well.
So trust the process.
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