Monday, December 5, 2011
Cubs not swinging for fences on first day
By Bruce Levine
DALLAS -- Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer talked to Albert Pujols' agent Dan Lozano on Monday at the winter meetings. However, the Cubs fan base should probably hold off on getting Pujols jerseys.
“[Lozano] also represents Rodrigo Lopez, so if you see somebody going into someone’s room, it’s not always to talk about the Big Kahuna,” said Epstein, who admitted he was hoping to bring Lopez back to the team to add depth to a paper-thin starting rotation. “But yeah, we met with Danny.”
Just from Epstein’s commentary over the past month, it doesn’t appear that the Cubs will be spending all of their money on one player.
Looking at the Pujols situation realistically, it seems far-fetched for a team like the Cubs, which has four or five position spots to fill and at least two rotation spots, to be going after Pujols. But one thing to keep in mind is that Epstein is known for flying under the radar.
A prime example is his signing of free agent Carl Crawford to a $160 million contract with the Red Sox without any media people finding out about it beforehand.
Could Epstein go stealth again during these meetings?
“Probably not,” Epstein said. “We try the best we can not to telegraph our moves, but then again it’s not a huge concern [if people find out.] You guys are pretty good at anticipating things that we might do. But if you can pull off something that hasn’t been made public, it makes it a little bit easier.”
The Cubs’ goal at the meetings is to add pitching depth and position players. San Diego third baseman Chase Headley is on their want list as is Colorado’s Ian Stewart.
Headley, a switch hitter, could be projected to hit with more power if he was playing in Chicago. The Padres third baseman only had four home runs in cavernous Petco Park last season in 351 at-bats. What the Cubs like about Headley is that he hit 11 home runs in 2010 and 12 in 2009. If acquired, they would expect Headley to hit 15-20 home runs at the more homer-friendly Wrigley Field. The Padres are looking for bullpen help in return and are hoping the Cubs might part with a couple of pitchers, including left-hander James Russell.
The Rockies are interested in right fielder Tyler Colvin in exchange for Stewart. Stewart, like Headley, had a rough season in 2011, failing to homer in 122 at-bats. But he hit 25 homers in 2009 and 18 in 2010. Stewart is a left-handed hitter, which is something else that the Cubs are seeking.
The Cubs also confirmed that first baseman Carlos Pena will most likely reject their arbitration offer. Industry sources tell ESPNChicago.com that Pena is looking for a three-year contract elsewhere. The deadline for a free agent offered arbitration to accept or decline is Wednesday.
“Lots of talk but not a lot of action,” is the way Epstein, who challenged his scouts to find trading partners for starting pitching, described the first day of winter meetings.