Welcome back to World Series Dreaming after the Thanksgiving holiday. We’re a week away from the Winter Meetings and finding out whether Ron Santo will finally get into the Hall of Fame (great timing right). So we’re going to try to condense all the shenanigans that have gone on since we recovered from that turkey coma. Unless you’re a vegetarian, in which case I hope you ate something more flavorful than Tofurkey.
Let’s begin by telling you that David DeJesus is a very lucky man. The big news coming out of the Cubs transaction front, of course, is the signing of David DeJesus as the new everyday right fielder. Just in case we forgot to mention it, his wife Kim is really pretty.
It’s not the epic awesome signing most Cubs fans expect, but it does fill a couple of needs that the Cubs front office has stressed they would focus on. For one, DeJesus is a superb outfielder. He also has a reputation for being a good baserunner, and while he probably won’t steal 70 bases, he’ll get on base at a good clip and not run himself into outs as we fans are used to. His contract is also dirt cheap which makes him fairly easy to move or absorb should the need arise. The thing is not to focus on his subpar year in Oakland but to look at his production over his career. He’s not going to be a superstar, but he’s someone who can provide solid value for a good price. Plus his wife is incredibly attractive. And he seems to be a hit with lady Cub fans too, which is fitting since Kim is a Cubs fan.
The Cubs have also said they would explore bringing Carlos Zambrano back to the team after his walkout this past season. As one of the de facto leaders on the Cubs, Kerry Wood supports Z coming back but says he’ll have to make things right. Not sure exactly what that entails, but maybe they’ll make him jump through a flaming hoop on a unicycle while juggling Gatorade. I might actually pay to see that. It does make sense to bring Z back to a team that needs pitching and needs innings-eaters even though he hasn’t pitched more than 200 innings in quite a while. I definitely don’t enjoy the idea of watching $18MM set on fire.
Interestingly, all these decisions and more will be supported by Tom Ricketts according to this interview from ESPN Chicago. Ricketts definitely wasn’t kidding when he said Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer would be in full control of baseball operations and they would be held accountable for everything they do. Ricketts will give them a big bucket of money and Theo and Jed will be trusted to spend it wisely. That could mean anything from signing foreign free agents such as Yu Darvish or Yoenis Cespedes, to throwing a huge pile of money at Albert Pujols and/or Prince Fielder. They could decide to trade Matt Garza or Randy Wells. They could try to dump Alfonso Soriano on some unsuspecting team or eat his entire salary in a release. We simply don’t know what will happen though because Ricketts keeps deferring to Theo or Jed and they aren’t saying anything. Which is actually kind of fun because that means whatever they do, like the DeJesus signing, will be a surprise and we’ll have to keep guessing what the grand plan is.
If we were to hazard a guess, though, with tons of money coming off the books and Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena off to greener pastures (at least we hope so, sure could use those draft picks), there is enough money floating around to do quite a bit this offseason. Conceivably the Cubs could outbid the Cardinals (or whoever else) for Pujols’ services, and with Fielder almost guaranteed to leave Milwaukee and the NL Central, the Cubs can weaken their two toughest rivals while getting better themselves. In addition, the DeJesus signing suggests that there might be a shakeup in the outfield as we originally thought Marlon Byrd would shift over to RF while Brett Jackson comes up to man center field. Now it looks like Byrd stays in CF for the time being while Jackson will stay in the minors at least to start the season. Alternatively this could signal a prelude to a trade of either Soriano or Byrd to make room for Jackson. Lots of things could happen, and it would be great if the Cubs would tell the fans something, but this is like Christmas presents under the tree; you can shake them all you want, but you can’t find out what’s inside until the big day. So until a move becomes official, we simply will be left guessing. The media guys in Chicago have to be hopping mad about that, but maybe it’s not so bad that they’re playing things so close to the chest as baseball transactions seem to have become the ultimate poker game. The Cubs have one hell of a poker face.
Oh yeah, they hired a new bench coach for Dale Sveum. Jamie Quirk is going to be helping out in the dugout come 2012.
Lots of things to keep track of. We’ll find out after the Winter Meetings what the Cubs are likely to do, but on Monday, at least we’ll know one way or another whether Ron Santo finally made it into the Hall of Fame. So at least we’ll have SOME news, right?