Welcome to the GM meetings in Milwaukee. Doug Padilla and I are roaming the halls for info for you. The Cubs and Sox should be discussing player movement. Should be an interesting time. Welcome
With the down year in the free agent market for starting pitchers, where can the Cubs look to firm up this rotation?
You can look to Japan and Yu Darvish who is the top young pitcher in Japanese baseball. The Cubs as well as seven or eight other teams will be figuring out whether posting for Davrish's services is what they want to do. He would be a No. 2 starter in the Cubs rotation.
any truth to the rumors of Grady Sizemore playing right field next year for the Cubs??
I don't know about that. He has had more surgeries than Hulk Hogan. He would be an experimental signing. He's not close to what he was three or four years ago. He's still young enough that some will take a shot at him but you better have a backup plan.
Who do you think is the current favorite for the cubs manager job?
Without any more knowledge than anyone else I would say Francona. Epstein confirmed here that he continues to have conversations with him. Why would he do that unless he was a candidate?
Bruce, rumors out of San Diego are that the Padres may be looking to trade Orlando Hudson...I've been saying for 3 years that O-Dog would be a good top of the order guy with good defense at 2B...move Barney out and have Castro bat 2nd...could the Cubs trade something like Barney and something else to San Diego?
I think that's a bad risk. Hudson has a strong impact on a team initially and then that usually fades.
Hi Bruce, I'm curious about how the Cubs catching position shapes up. Will Koyie Hill be on the Cubs roster in 2012? Do you see Castillo or Clevenger breaking camp with the Cubs? Will Epstein look to Jason Varitek as a back up? Thanks.
Varitek is presumed to be a future backup catcher with the Cubs due to the fact that he brings a solid culture with him and would be a steady influence to the young players. At this point he is a 30-40 game catcher which would make Hill's position vulnerable. All that said, you would presume Soto to be traded under that scenario. It's time to get one of those young catchers up to the major league level.
Opening day Cubs first baseman?
Who's on first? I don't know. At this point your guess is as good as mine. there is no one in the organization outside of LaHair and there are still rumblings he may sign in Japan.
David Ortiz to the Cubs to play 1B if we lose Pena? At least we'd get better offensively but worse defensively. Any insight on who could be manning 1B next season?
No chance on Ortiz. He can barely move around there. That's almost like saying Thome is going to play first base for the Phillies while Ryan Howard recoups from injury. These guys are DH/pinch hitters at this point in their careers.
Any chance the Cubs make a run at John Danks or Wade Davis?
Not sure about Davis but they would love to be able to get Danks. What would you trade to the Sox for Danks though? Would you put a package together that included your top young prospect in Brett Jackson? Would they want Trey McNutt? You're not going to get a 27-year-old lefty starter for nothing. The Cubs would have to be assured they could sign Danks to a long-term deal. He's a free agent after 2011.
Hey Bruce, has there been any talk about the Cubs wanting Starlin Castro to bulk up and be more of a power threat - much like the Marlins had done with Cabrera earlier and Hanley Ramirez recently. It is risky but could be beneficial if he could keep hitting for AVG.
They are not going to ask Castro to be anything but what he is which is a 21-year-old emerging superstar. He will hit for power but it will come naturally.
With Epstein announcing that Big Z will be back, do you think think Maddux's chances of getting the job have increased?
I don't think they have anything to do with the other. Zambrano is not going to be handled by anyone. The only person who can handle Zambrano is Zambrano. He will be on his best behavior until the season begins. The true test will be when somebody makes an error behind him and how he reacts. I still think he will be pitching somewhere else Opening Day.
Are there any potential suitors for Soriano? If so, where do you think that he could end up? I heard some rumbling about a move to LA in a deal for Vernon Wells, which sounded terrible to me.
There's not going to be a good outcome in a trade for Soriano. Hoping that some AL team thinks he can DH is the best you can do but you're going to have to be prepared to eat most of the $54 million left on his three-year contract. He can still be productive but the money is prohibitive.
What is the strongest Cubs rumor thus far at the GM meetings? Anything surprising?
That they will be moving very strongly into the international market, going after Darvish and Cespedes.
What would you do with Marmol going forward if you were Theo?
I would concern myself with getting a routine where he doesn't appear in 75 games five years in a row. No closer in the game has had more appearances than Marmol who has been abused over the past couple of seasons. He had the most back to back appearances in baseball last season (27). If you want to trade him, you can. He's a relative bargain at $7 million a year for the next two years. Teams will talk to the Cubs about Marmol and they will ignore the 10 blown saves from last year. You have would-be closers in Cashner and Samardzija if you want to develop them.
What will Andrew Cashner's role be next year, will they keep him in the bullpen after his injury that cost him almost the whole season or will he still be an option for the starting rotation?
It's going to be interesting to see how the new brass looks at Cashner. They have nothing invested in him. My guess is that they will put him back in the bullpen where I believe he belongs. If he was going to get stretched out they should have done it this winter. He has not started many games since 2009. He needs to be stretched out if you're serious about it, not just in spring training.
I hear rumors about a trade for Chase Headley. I was wondering what would it potentially take to acquire him and your opinions about how he fits in with the Cubs. His home away splits makes him seem like a good potential replacement for Ramirez.
Obviously Hoyer had him in San Diego. He's not really a home run threat although he would hit more outside of Petco Park. He's a pretty good third baseman. What would it take? They would probably want a good young position player or two. Vitters might be in a trade like that.
If you were betting on Lahair's chances of hitting 25-30 HRs as a starter with the Cubs, which side of the bet would you want to be on?
The Iowa Cubs or Chicago Cubs? I'd prefer to be on the side of caution which would mean less than 25. I think teams started to expose some of his weaknesses in the last two weeks of the season. I do like that he sees a lot of pitches and has an idea what he's doing up there. That's a lot different than most of the Cubs who swing at the first or second pitch.
Boras said he will talk to the Cubs about Fielder at the meetings. Is there genuine interest on Fielder's part, or is Boras just using one of the only big market teams with a need to drive the price?
Don't overread what you're looking at. I was standing there with 30 other media members when I asked him about fielder. He lumps Fielder and Pena together. Remember, he reps Pena as well so he's as concerned about a market for Pena as he is for Fielder.
What are the chances the Cubs trade for somebody like David Wright to play third base?
That would be a $30 million roll of the dice. That's what he's owed over the next two years. Don't know if he fits of looking for younger players who haven't hit their peak yet. This group of execs believe that by 32 you're starting to go the other direction as a position player. It would cost you Marmol and more to get Wright.
When do you think that the Cubs will announce their new manager? Before Friday?
My guess is by the end of this week or Monday at the latest. There are no more candidates. Any one of the six people mentioned could be their choice. Maddux and Alomar appear to be the strongest two outside of Francona who in my mind is still a viable wild card for the job.
Don't you think that going into the international market is almost as big a risk as the amatuer draft? I would think they would rather invest in known commodities (free agents) than the large investment necessary for names like Darvish (posting fees and all) and Cespedes (fukudome part 2) that might not pan out.
These guys are outside the box thinkers. They believe that there is a certain element of risk you should take for a high-quality international player. The Cubs have the money to throw at developmental players like Darvish and Cespedes. This is the group that went after Daisuke, and that turned out to be over $100 million. They will do their homework and make the decision they feel is right. They like amateur talent.
Do the Cubs plan on bringing Kerry Wood back? And if so, would it only be another 1 year deal?
I would say yes. I know Epstein and Wood had a conversation at a local pub last week. Wood is on record as saying he will retire rather than pitch elsewhere next year.
Does it make sense for the Cubs to make a run at either Pujlos or Fielder at this point in time?
Fielder yes, Pujols no. Fielder is 27. He's a strong building block both as an offensive weapon and a dynamic marketing tool. He also fits into the age bracket of some of the players Epstein and Co. want to build around.
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Time for some White Sox talk from the media room at the GM meetings in Milwaukee.
Kenny took some of the beat writers to dinner last night (I had the scallops). He tried to sound optimistic on Buehrle but ended up being more reflective on the lefty's tenure. Sounded somber at times.
Assuming Buerhle and Danks doesn't come back to the Sox, would the Sox still be able to have a decent starting rotation.
Good question. I'd say no, unless the Danks (or Quentin) deal yields a decent starter. I really think they keep Danks and sign him long term at some point. He is arb eligible for one more year. They wouldn't want to lose two lefties in one offseason. If a starter goes, it's probably Gavin.
If the Sox lose Buehrle, what are the chances that Danks or Floyd still gets moved? Could losing Mark be the first step to a major sell off this off season?
If Buehrle signs elsewhere I wouldn't call it a "sell off." They would still have Danks, Floyd, Humber, Peavy and Sale in the starting rotation. That has potential to do some damage. They will cut payroll a bit but won't be unloading the house.
I thought it was you that posted a theory about Quentin and possible suitors. Any news from the GM meetings and/or any further thoughts on moving Q?
Kenny met with a bunch of long-time GMs last night. He didn't deny that trade talks could take place and you figure Q came up at some point. It would be a surprise if he wasn't moved, but since everybody knows the White Sox are willing to move him it doesn't help them to get a maximum return. Teams will first wait to see if the White Sox are desperate for a move so the first offers figure to be weak.
What are the odds rios is moved to left?
I'd say small. That would essentially mean that Rios takes left and De Aza takes over in CF. If there was a vacancy in RF I'd say there would be a real good chance to move there. But Ventura is known to value defense and it clearly looks like De Aza is the better of the two in center.
Who are some FAs the Sox might target?
They really aren't in play for any of the big names. With payroll coming down a bit and them already being on the hook for nearly $100 million in 2012, there isn't much wiggle room.
Is Kenny WIlliams respected by his GM "peers" and/or other baseball execs? If so, why?
He is very respected. That might sound odd to fans who wonder about his ability to put a winner on the field lately, but the GMs respect what he does. KW is willing to take risks that the others don't have the stomach for. Sometimes it works (Danks for McCarthy) sometimes it fails (Dunn, Rios). But he isn't shy and other GMs love that about him.
Where does Axelrod fit with this club? Insurance for injury, long relief or 5th starter? I'm not a big stewart guy.
He's probably more long relief at this point. He doesn't throw hard, but he throws strikes and looks to be durable enough to handle any role at a moment's notice. Stewart has the bigger upside but he needs to show it. Remember they are just breaking into the league. We haven't seen the final product just yet. At least you hope we haven't.
aRE THE wHITE sOXS ARE GOING TO RESIGN mARK bUERHLE
Mike, you sound a little frazzled there. Buehrle has so many options that his chances of coming back don't look good. Check out my post from last night (copy and paste to your browser): http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/white-sox/post/_/id/8183/williams-less-optimistic-on-buehrles-return
If compensation rule is changed do the Sox push harder for Buehrle or is it not a big deal breaker for them
Sorry for the delay.
Compensation isn't a factor. It's all about finances and Buehrle is set to make a ton of cash that the White Sox probably can't match.
why wouldn't the sox go after seizmore?
Again, he will carry a significant price tag that the White Sox aren't in position to cover. He probably can move to left field, but he also has a what's going on 3 years with health issues. Big risk.
Is kenny delaying the inevitable by not blowing up this team for prospects? And Jerry has to question the direction by looking around the league and seeing correlation between scouting spending resulting in home made talent
The problem with blowing it up is that Dunn and Rios will have to stick around making big money while playing with kids. They can't be moved. KW still feels that if he can get something from Dunn, Rios and Beckham, the White Sox can make a move. You figure some of those guys can't get worse. As for the scouting department, the White Sox are well of their past deficiencies there and are working on it.
I have a hitting instruction video with Ventura and Hriniak--will Robin be taking more of a vested interest in teaching hitters like Dunn, Rios, the Hriniak style?
With the way the White Sox set up the coaching staff, everybody will help in all areas. That means Ventura and probably even McEwing will help Manto and Mike Gellinger on the hitting side. Manto has said he will help hitters with the style they are most comfortable. There won't be one hiting approach he forces on anybody.
Followup...it seems to me that KW is very smug, almost to the point of arrogance. Couple that with the fact that he has a lot more "misses" than "hits". I would think that other GMs basically laugh at him and know that he can be taken advantage of.Agree?
Sorry, but GMs aren't siting back keeping score. Kenny is well respected in the group. He is willing to listen to even the craziest of offers. Not saying you have to like KW but the other GMs have respect for him.
Thanks for the questions, and I apologize for the technical glitch. Time to work the hotel lobby now. See you next week.