The Cubs have yet to name their manager, but that vacancy could be filled in the coming weeks. The Cubs interviewed Dale Sveum on Monday and Mike Maddux on Wednesday. The next to be interviewed will be Indians’ bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. within the next few days. It seems that Mike Maddux is the favorite to become the next Cubs manager.
Here’s the latest on rumors involving the Cubs leading up to the GM meetings and the Winter Meetings:
*Bruce Levine states the Cubs main focus this Winter will be on pitching and could zero in on Rangers’ CJ Wilson and White Sox Mark Buerhle, Both of whom are free agents. This is pretty interesting because the Cubs were said to not be interested in Wilson. When the off-season started, it was believed that Wilson will earn a $100 million contract. However, that might not be the case anymore as no teams want to throw that much money at a pitcher who hasn’t been a starter for too long. I don’t think the Cubs will sign Buerhle as he’s more of an aging pitcher and Epstein wants younger players, but the Cubs have already been linked to him once. So, if the Cubs do pursue and sign Buerhle it wouldn’t come as too much as a surprise.
*One of the top players to come over to the MLB is Cuban center fielder Yoenis Cespedes. The Cubs have not been linked to Cespedes too much. I only saw one report and Phil Rogers mentioned it yesterday. I think it is more speculation than fact on his part and he simply thinks that the Cubs should pursue him. I expect the Cubs to pursue players from overseas, but in the form of pitching, rather than position players. For instance, it may be realistic that the Cubs sign Yu Darvish. Also, the Cubs did not have a scout at his workout a few days ago, which is a good indication the Cubs won’t pursue him. Bruce Levine does not know if the Cubs will pursue Cespedes or not.
*Levine says the Cubs should trade catcher Geovany Soto, but only if they get a good pitcher in return. Thus, we can put this to rest and Soto will more likely than not be in a Cubs uniform next year. I doubt the Cubs would be able to get a good pitcher in return. I would be surprised if the Cubs did and whichever team takes the bait would have to be desperate for catching.
*More teams will have interest in Zambrano later this Winter, according the Bruce Levine. I’m not surprised, because Zambrano does have the potential to be an excellent pitcher. He’s not too old and if a team can keep his head in check, they will be happy with his performance. We heard that the Royals are interested a few days ago.
*Levine thinks the Cubs should not pursue Mets’ third baseman David Wright if he is made available this Winter. According to reports, Wright will be made available if he is not already. I disagree, believing that if Wright is available and the price is right, the Cubs should go for it.
*Bruce Levine says that Prince Fielder’s agent Scott Boras will market him to the Cubs, but Tim Dierkes (owner of MLBTradeRumors.com) doesn’t see Prince Fielder as the first big move by new President Theo Epstein. Dierkes says he doesn’t see a Fielder-to-Cubs signing because how far they are away from competing. I think if the Cubs did sign Fielder and revamp their pitching, they’ll be closer than most people think and a sleeper for the 2012 season. There have been sleepers that no one thought would contend over the years, most notably the Tampa Bay Rays.
*In Tim Dierkes’s weekly chat on MLBTR, he predicted that the Cubs will get creative at third base. He mentions Padres’ third baseman Chase Headley as a possibility. Headley is said to be available this Winter. A report out of San Diego has the Cubs acquiring Headley this off-season. Therefore, Headley to the Cubs could become a real possibility. He plays great defense, but his offense is just average and he does not have much home run power. We would see a difference in production if the Cubs did have Headley at third base next year over Aramis Ramirez. Dierkes says the Cubs will have to trade pitchers along the lines of Trey McNutt or Chris Carpenter. Headley is still young and is under contract for three more years.
*Dierkes mentions that most teams view Darwin Barney as a utility player and not a starter, so don’t look for the Cubs to trade him for Braves’ pitcher Jair Jurrjens, which is kind of obvious and no surprise whatsoever. I also view Barney as a back-up or utility player over a starter.
*I don’t get this one, but ESPN’s Jim Bowden thinks Carl Crawford will be traded to the Cubs on or by the July 31st trade deadline. Yes, the trade deadline that’s not even close. Another reason I don’t get it because the Cubs could make a move this off-season and there will be no need on the 31st for Crawford. Also, I don’t see Epstein bringing over his own mistake from the Boston Red Sox. Crawford had a fantastic season a year before his new contract and struggled big time in his first year with the Red Sox. Crawford signed a 7 year, $142 million contract before the 2011 season. I just can’t see Epstein bringing Crawford to the North side, especially not with Alfonso Soriano on the team.
*It seems that the Cubs next manager will be former Rangers and Brewers pitching coach Mike Maddux.
*Also, rival executives believe that Greg Maddux, brother of Mike Maddux and former Cub, will be the Cubs next pitching coach. That would be awesome, but we don’t know for sure whether or not it will happen right now. Mike Maddux will have to be the next manager for Greg to become the pitching coach.
Side Note: The Chicago White Sox signed ex-Cub Donnie Veal to a minor league contract today.