As we hit mid-week, things remain quiet on the Cubs front, but with a full roster and Masahiro Tanaka still available, we may not see anything major get done until that situation is resolved. That will be within the next 10 days.
UPDATE 1:13 PM:
Cubs sign OF Chris Coghlan
The Cubs made a minor move today, signing former National League Rookie of the Year Chris Coghlan. Coghlan hit .321/.390/.460 with 9 HRs that season. He hasn't really come close to repeating that since. In fact, he's been below replacement level in his last 3 seasons.
Coghlan, 28, gets thrown into that mix for 5th OF'er, assuming Nate Schierholtz, Justin Ruggiano, Ryan Sweeney, and Junior Lake fill the other 4 spots.
A left-handed hitter, Coghlan has hit a more respectable .279/.344/.410 line vs. RHP and is right around league average for his career.
Defensively he can play all 3 positions but is below average at all of them, with LF being his best fit.
It's a minor league deal, so nothing to lose here. If he doesn't perform this spring, the Cubs will cut him, but if he does earn the right to stay on, he can either play a role with the MLB team or provide depth at Iowa.
Cubs Convention and Meet-Up
The Cubs Convention starts on Friday. I will not be attending in part because I am going to be very busy this weekend (and pretty much every day up until I go on vacation in a few weeks).
But if I'm going to be perfectly honest, I must say that I've never been much of a convention fan. I just like baseball. I'd much rather attend instructs without all the frills surrounding the game. I'm not an autograph hound and I've always held some disdain for the consumerism run amok. I'm glad to hear the Cubs will be limiting opportunistic vendors, so maybe I'll go next year. Most of the time I go to get together with old friends, but those times have become less frequent over the years.
That said, I will be attending the gathering on Friday night if anyone is interested in meeting up. It is at a bar called Lizzie's Irish Pub. The official time is 8 pm but from what I understand, some people show up earlier.
It appears they have a great selection of irish whiskey, but I can't say I know as much about that as I do scotch (or bourbon or rye, for that matter), so if anyone has a recommendation I'm all ears.
Rick Renteria...secret weapon?
Patrick Mooney wrote an article on Rick Renteria and how he may be the right guy at the right time for the Cubs. I think Renteria is an important piece here. I've never been big on a manager's impact as far as strategy, but I think his job is to get the most out of his players and in the case of younger players, help them get to the next level. Dale Sveum did not show the ability to do that and it cost him his job.
Kevin Towers is a big fan and would have hired him had Kirk Gibson not taken then interim role and held on to it the way he did. Of Renteria, Towers says,
“He’s a special individual. The Cubs are a better organization for having him. He can relate to star players and young players. He’s a disciplinarian. He’s going to expect the guys to play hard and play the game the right way. He’s bilingual, loyal. He just needed an opportunity. He’s the right manager for that club. Theo couldn’t have picked a better guy.”
Any chance for Cubs success depends on it's young core developing and Renteria will play a big role one way or the other.
Paul Maholm to return?
Mark Gonzalez of the Tribune writes that the the Cubs have interest in bringing back the popular Paul Maholm to Chicago. I like this move if it happens (and it may be contingent on whether the Cubs can sign Tanaka first). Maholm would add a second lefty to the rotation. He's more of a back of the rotation type now, but at the right price, it'd be nice to have a veteran in that spot who can save your bullpen and keep you in the game.
Eight Cubs players have filed for arbitration. The are as follows...
- Nate Schierholtz
- Justin Ruggiano
- Darwin Barney
- Luis Valbuena
- James Russell
- Pedro Strop
- Jeff Samardzija
- Travis Wood
Under both Hendry and Epstein, the Cubs have preferred to avoid arbitration hearings, so look for most, if not all of these players to sign before their hearing date. In some cases, notably Samardzija and Wood, the Cubs would like to sign them to a multi-year extension.
Dodgers in negotiations with Clayton Kershaw
The Dodgers have a mighty task ahead of them, and that is to extend the contract of perhaps the top pitcher in baseball before he hits free agency. Kershaw is thought to be looking for 10 years and $300M. The Dodgers have said they want to get it done this week. This might be a little pressure on the lefty ace, as the time frame fits closely with the negotiating window of an alternative option -- that of Masahiro Tanaka. If the Dodgers can't get it done with Kershaw, it wouldn't surprise me to see them make a ridiculous bid to get Tanaka and insure they aren't left without a top of the rotation arm. If they do extend Kershaw, then that lessens the urgency to some degree. Not that the Dodgers don't have enough money to sign them both, but it may not be the most efficient allocation of resources for them. Then again, when you have a quadrillion dollar limit on your payroll, who needs efficiency?
For what it's worth, Buster Olney reports that the the Dodgers are at the one yard line, so it looks like it's going to get done.
Chris Crawford wrote up his top 14 Cubs Prospect List and it contains one major surprise -- Eloy Jimenez is #10, and a few minor surprises, starting with Arodys Vizcaino nailing the 8th spot down. He is impressed with Vizcaino's improved health and the reports on this great stuff this fall. Crawford feels Vizcaino has a chance to be the Cubs closer as soon as next year.
As for Jimenez, Crawford admits the ranking is aggressive -- but he also thinks he has a chance to shoot up the list after his professional debut.
Another interesting selection is Scott Frazier at #13. For what it's worth, I spoke to a scout who really likes Frazier's potential as well. For Frazier it's about command and developing better secondaries -- which is what you could say about a lot of college pitchers. But Frazier's size, arm strength (91-98 mph on his FB) and good athleticism make him an intriguing pitcher to watch. Crawford thinks he has the upside of a mid-rotation starter.
Crawfor also has Neil Ramirez higher than most at #14 and feels he can be a #3 starter if his command takes a jump forward, but is more likely a back end starter who will be more pitch-to-contact than a strikeout pitcher.
Notably absent is Mike Olt, Christian Villanueva, Kyle Hendricks, and one of my personal favorites, Paul Blackburn.
Here is the entire list..
- Javier Baez
- Kris Bryant
- Jorge Soler
- Albert Almora
- CJ Edwards
- Arismendy Alcantara
- Pierce Johnson
- Arodys Vizcaino
- Jeimer Candelario
- Eloy Jimenez
- Rob Zastryzny
- Dan Vogelbach
- Scott Frazier
- Neil Ramirez
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