Baseball’s General Manager meetings have begun today, and while the Chicago Cubs have not made any moves, as far as signings of players or hiring of a manager, they are still in the news for a few reasons. So I am here to just give off a few thoughts on some of the rumblings of the day.
In regards to the Managerial search, in my mind there are only two candidates that I would want to give the job to; at least in terms of who they have interviewed. Those men are Mike Maddux (who happens to by my personal choice) and Sandy Alomar Jr. When looking for a manager, you want to find someone who is able to relate to all 25 men on the roster, and who would hopefully have some idea about pitchers. Both Maddux and Alomar fit that description.
Regardless of my opinions on who should have the job, the Cubs don’t listen to me so the search continues. All four men will be brought back for a second round of interviews in the coming week to help them determine who the best man for the job is. If the first round included watching old game footage and had them managing the taped game, and then a mock press conference, I can not wait to see what the second round includes.
With Maddux, he obviously knows pitching as he has been a pitching coach for several years. He also comes with a personality that would allow you to believe that he would be able to relate to anyone. If his mock press conference is any indication, he will certainly be an entertaining manager. While that does not mean that he will be a great manager, at least there will be something to look forward to after a Cubs loss. I particularly like his plans for Carlos Zambrano if and when he returns to the team. I would pay good money to see him pick up the “big teddy bear and burp him”. That would be well worth the price of admission alone. If the Cubs win that game, even better. Another attractive incentive to the hiring of Maddux, is he might be able to bring his brother Greg to Chicago with him. While that might still be a long shot, Greg has at least said he would consider the job, something he has always said he had no interest in before being brought into the discussion with his brother Mike.
Alomar on the other hand, while he lacks the personality of Maddux, you know that he can relate to both the pitchers and the hitters on the team. Being a catcher, he can relate to how hitters think and approach the game. At the same time, he understands how pitchers think and can tell when a pitcher is not right. After all, that was part of his job when he was playing the game. He can see when pitchers are getting tired and will be unlikely to leave a pitcher in too long to the point where he is hurting the team with poor pitches.
In free agent news, Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena are both in the news as far as contract issues with the Cubs. While Ramirez has officially taken himself off of the Cubs wish list, mainly due to criticism from Bob Brenley according to his agent. But he will be meeting with the Milwaukee Brewers about the possibility of signing with them. While the have Casey McGehee already at third, he could be an option at first with the departure of Prince Fielder. I will miss Ramirez at third, but the time has come to part ways with him. He will not be worth the money he is seeking, and certainly not at the length he wants (4 years). With the Cubs likely not competing seriously next season, bringing him back is not a great idea. Let him walk and get a draft pick for him.
Pena on the other hand will meet with the Cubs about a possible contract renewal in the coming days. Much like with Ramirez, I do not feel that re-signing him would be in the Cubs best interest. He will likely want a better deal than one year at $10 Million, and anything else would be too much money for him. Sorry to say, his time on the north side should also come to an end.
The we have Carlos Marmol, the Cubs have stated that they would be open to moving him if the right deal came along. While I love Marmol, I would gladly listen to offers to see if I could get out from under that ugly contract. Looking at the recent deal for Jonathan Papelbon, Marmol’s contract is a steal. They might be able to find a team willing to give up a few top prospects, which would help the team contend in the future. After all, what is the point of having a closer on a team that is not contending? Save some money and rebuild the farm system.
Finally, Carlos Zambrano and Theo Epstein met recently to discuss his future with the Cubs. If the Cubs are going to get rid of Zambrano, they are going to have to cut him and pay him the entire $18 million that he is owed. No team will trade for him unless the Cubs eat the whole contract, and they will not send a good prospect back either. So what would be the point of getting rid of him? You might as well get something out of your $18 Million. Zambrano, despite his attitude is still a really good pitcher. Looking at his numbers he might even be the best pitcher in Cubs history. Bring him back, Cubs need pitching. Besides, like I mentioned earlier, I want to see Maddux pick him up and burp him!
As long as we are on the subject, is anyone concerned that every time we hear about Epstein making a public appearance (outside of his first one at Starbucks) he is at a bar? Perhaps he has already been Cub’d and he is starting to enjoy the Wrigleyville lifestyle a bit too much already. I highly doubt that is the case, bars are just so much easier at the moment if you do not have an office set up. The office is coming, so I don’t think we have to worry about Theo becoming a booze hound.
There is no free agent news to speak of, though the Cubs have been connected with both Fielder and Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes. Both will likely command a high pay day, so both are likely not going to be joining the Cubs. If Matt Kemp is getting an eight year deal worth $160 Million, I imagine Fielder will request a contract starting higher than that. Not sure will his deal will go, but my guess is he will set a new NL Contract record, which will best the one Kemp set today. Albert Pujols might break Fielder’s contract record once he signs.
Rumors say that Cespedes is seeking a contract worth $30 million, though they are unclear if that is for the life of the contract or per year. I have a hard time believing that he would get anything close to $30 million per year, so he likely means for the life time. Depending on the length of the deal, that is not a bad deal if he is as good as scouting reports say he is. If he is signed, the Cubs must absolutely trade Marlon Byrd, because I want to see Brett Jackson up next year as well, and Alfonso Soriano is not going anywhere anytime soon.
That about sums up the news on the day for the Cubs. Hopefully something actually happens so we have real news to talk about instead of just these rumors.