Posted on: November 7, 2011 4:24 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 8:33 pm

Maddux withdraws name from Boston's manager list

Mike MadduxBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux has withdrawn from consideration from the Red Sox manager's job, the Red Sox announced. He was scheduled to interview on Tuesday.

Maddux was reportedly scheduled to interview with the Cubs this week, as well, and could be the favorite to land that job. That perception is unlikely to change after this development.

The Red Sox have also interviewed Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin and Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum. The Cubs have already interviewed Mackanin and were scheduled to interview Sveum on Monday.

The Red Sox are also scheduled to interview Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr., as well.

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Posted on: November 7, 2011 3:00 pm

Monday trade sets stage for busy Hot Stove season

By Matt Snyder

Sure, Derek Lowe was dealt to the Indians in a salary dump and we've seen a few signings, but things have been pretty slow of late in Major League Baseball news. When the biggest name to sign a contract with a new team thus far is a backup first baseman/pinch-hitter (Jim Thome), it says everything you need to know about this past week in actual transactions. So forgive us for loving Melky Cabrera and Jonathan Sanchez swapping addresses. It's something, and it serves as a nice little unofficial start to the Hot Stove season.

With just one week to the general manager meetings in Milwaukee, it's time to focus on other potential trade candidates. Obviously rumors don't always come to fruition and we're shocked with non-rumored trades going down on occasion, but here are some names that either make sense or have been rumored to be on the move in the recent past.

• The White Sox's farm system is in absolute shambles and the major-league club doesn't appear ready to compete with the Tigers any time soon, so it's possible general manager Kenny Williams decides to rebuild. Since Adam Dunn and Alex Rios have no trade value, Gavin Floyd, John Danks and Carlos Quentin would be the parts most likely to move.

Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie is a free agent after the 2012 season and he could be a helpful four or five starter for a contender. He's thrown at least 190 innings in each of the past four seasons.

Hot Stove Season
• Do new Cubs executives Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer look to cut the sunk costs of Carlos Zambrano and Alfonso Soriano? They'd have to eat a significant portion of the remaining salaries (and for Soriano it's $54 million left on the deal), but the duo isn't helping the Cubs win in 2012. Also, Marlon Byrd only has one year left on his contract and prospect Brett Jackson will likely be ready to take over in center soon. The guess is Byrd has more value by the trade deadline in '12, though.

Rays center fielder B.J. Upton has long been rumored to be a trade candidate, and this winter it might finally happen with Desmond Jennings clearly ready to take over in center. Also, if the Rays are ready to deal a starting pitcher, Jeff Niemann is most likely.

Denard Span was rumored to be a trade candidate back in July, and the Twins could part with their center fielder to shore up the pitching staff.

We've already heard the rumors about Jair Jurrjens and Martin Prado from Atlanta, but it's possible since talks fizzled with the Royals that the Braves just hold both.

• Do the Angels try to shed Alberto Callaspo and/or Maicer Izturis and then land free agent Aramis Ramirez at third? They probably would need to shed more payroll in order to do so.

• Starting pitchers Wandy Rodriguez and Brett Myers could easily be on the move from Houston, but the guess is the ownership situation would need to be resolved first.

• After a disappointing 2011 season, the Rockies have plenty of trade candidates. Chris Iannetta probably stays put, but Huston Street, Ian Stewart, Seth Smith and Ty Wigginton all make sense in potential deals.

Dodgers first baseman James Loney finished 2011 with a bang, which might mean it's the Dodgers last chance to get something of value in return for him. There are a few small-market matches, too, including the Indians.

• Finally, as we've already noted, the A's have put basically the entire team on the block.

So fasten your seatbelts, the action has only just begun.

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Posted on: November 6, 2011 10:35 pm

Zambrano pitches in Venezuelan winter league

Carlos ZambranoBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Carlos Zambrano was back on the mound Sunday for the first time since walking out on his team in Atlanta in August, pitching 2 2/3 innings in his home country of Venezuela, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Pitching for Los Caribes de Anzategui, the Cubs right-hander allowed two runs on four hits, allowing a home run to Chicago's Bryan LaHair. Zambrano also had a throwing error walked two and hit a batter, but did strike out three batters.

Chicago's Theo Epstein told the Chicago Tribune's Paul Sullivan last week that he was OK with Zambrano pitching this winter because he needed the innings and "it could be good for his state of mind to get out there and perform."

Zambrano was 9-7 with a 4.82 ERA in 24 starts for the Cubs in 2011, throwing 145 2/3 innings, but was placed on the team's disqualified list in August after he left his team during a game against the Braves. He pitched in just 129 2/3 innings in 2010 after being suspended for an outburst in the dugout.

Still, the Cubs are on the hook for $18 million for Zambrano in 2012 and have to decide exactly what to do with him. Zambrano is expected to make nine starts by Christmas in Venezuela and then resting until spring training begins.

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Posted on: November 6, 2011 6:44 pm

Wrong time for Mets to deal Wright

David Wright

By C. Trent Rosecrans

The hot stove sometimes takes a little while to warm up and the first couple of weeks of November are often more of a lukewarm stove -- and the kindling that is a David Wright rumor shouldn't stoke the flames too much.

On the surface, it's the type of rumor that should draw newspaper headlines -- the Mets "listening" to offers on Wright, the fallen star in New York. Sure, the Mets will obviously listen on offers for Wright, they'd be fools not to listen -- especially with a number of teams needing a third baseman.

The Angels, Cubs, Phillies and Rockies could all be searching for a new third baseman. So could the Brewers, Marlins and Tigers. Wright won't be 30 for another year and he already has four All-Star Games, two Gold Gloves and two Silver Sluggers on his mantle. There will always be a demand for a player like Wright -- especially in a free-agent market that has just one top-flight third baseman available.

The problem is, now is certainly not the time for the Mets to deal him -- listen, sure, but not pull the trigger. You don't sell low, and right now Wright is low, lower than he's ever been. He's coming off his worst offensive season of his career, hitting just .254/.345/.427 with 14 home runs and missed 58 games due to a stress fracture in his lower back. His 102 games played were the fewest since his rookie year of 2004 when he was called up after the All-Star break. Anyone taking Wright now is doing it for a steal -- and salary relief for the Mets.

A National League executive told Andy Martino of the New York Daily News that Mets general manager Sandy Alderson would have to be "bowled over" to deal Wright this winter. That's unlikely to happen.

Wright will make $15 million in 2012 and the Mets have a $16 million option with a $1 million buyout for 2013. Wright can void that option if he's traded, making him little more than a rental if he's traded during the season. That would hurt his value at the deadline, but nothing like the questions surrounding his health and recent production coming off his pedestrian 2011.

Despite the talks of Wright being on the market, the Mets first move for 2012 was a giant flashing sign saying they'll keep Wright. Last week the team announced that not only will they move the walls in at Citi Field, they'll also lower them. The changes, whether the Mets will say so or not, are meant to help Wright.

In the three seasons since Citi Field opened, Wright has hit just .279/.377/.449 with an average of just more than seven home runs a season at home. At Shea Stadium. Wright hit .318/.403/.555 and averaged 29 homers per season from 2005-08, with at least half of those coming at home. The most he's hit in a season at Citi Field is 12, when he hit 29 total homers in 2010.

"You'd be lying if you said you enjoyed hitting at Citi Field," Wright told ESPNNewYork.com last week. "I don't think anybody would say they enjoyed hitting in such a pitchers' ballpark. I don't think we ever looked at the field and it intimidated us. But obviously it's frustrating at times when you hit a ball good and you don't see the results that you want to see." 

Of course it's not just Wright, Citi Field allowed just 1.43 home runs per game, the lowest in the majors over its first three years. Other Mets can benefit (notably Jason Bay), but the Mets could benefit the most from an increased offensive output from Wright. If Wright flourishes in the new park, then his stock could would be much higher than it is now. If he doesn't put up significantly better numbers, that trade value is unlikely to change from where it is now.

Wright can still be one of the premier third basemen in baseball, but right now he's a .254 hitter with 14 homers -- that with a $15 million price tag doesn't bring back elite prospects. If Wright finds the new Citi Field to his liking, he can be an impact player for the Mets -- and their future. Wright won't be a Met forever, but he should be one on opening day.

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Posted on: November 5, 2011 12:16 pm

Cubs continue rounding out brain trust

By Matt Snyder

Late Friday night, news broke that the Cubs had hired Joe Bohringer as director of pro scouting (ESPN Chicago). And the praise on Twitter soon followed. Keith Law of ESPN.com noted the Angels were also after Bohringer's services. Baseball author Jonah Keri said "Joe is GREAT, Cubs fans should be thrilled." Baseball America's Jim Callis noted it was "another tremendous hire by the Cubs." Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus said it was a "fantastic" hire.

The hiring possibly completes the major front-office moves in Wrigleyville, where they've added president of baseball operations Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer, senior vice president of scouting and player development Jason McLeod and now Bohringer. Already in place were assistant general manager Randy Bush, scouting director Tim Wilken and personnel director Oneri Fleita.

One takeaway from the Bohringer hire is how much a Mickey Mouse operation the Cubs were previously running. Bush had reportedly been pulling double duty, serving as both the pro scouting director and assistant GM. This coming from one of the biggest money-making teams in the bigs. What a joke. But the laughs are beginning to subside now.

Allow me to formally apologize to Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts. Back in early September I said that Ricketts locking up Fleita could possibly sabotage his search for a general manager -- namely that it took the possibility of a "home-run hire" off the board. Boy, was I wrong. It could be argued Ricketts has hit several homers these past few weeks.

Epstein won two World Series with the Red Sox. Hoyer and McLeod have left the Padres' farm system in great shape and had helped Epstein build the Red Sox foundation (say what you will about spending, but Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Kevin Youkilis, Jon Lester, Jonathan Papelbon and Daniel Bard -- just to name a few -- were homegrown). Bohringer has 21 years of scouting experience (after graduating from MIT) and has been a lead scout for the Diamondbacks since 2006. Fleita was being courted by the Tigers before the Cubs re-signed him.

Obviously, front office personnel don't immediately pay on-field dividends nor do they necessarily equate to championships in the future. Further, these hires don't necessarily mean the Cubs have the smartest front office in the bigs. But the fact is that the Ricketts family has done absolutely everything they could possibly do this offseason to put a brilliant baseball brain trust in place. Success is not even close to being guaranteed, but simply seeing the effort is a departure from how things have been throughout Cubs history.

Now Cubs fans just need to be patient with the new brain trust -- as it's going to be a long process -- in hopes that on-field history is made as well.

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Posted on: November 3, 2011 8:58 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 9:06 pm

Francona on Epstein's list of possible managers?

By Matt Snyder

While the Cubs' new braintrust of president Theo Epstein, general manager Jed Hoyer, head of scouting Jason McLeod and assistant general manager Randy Bush (a holdover from the Jim Hendry administration) mull over candidates to replace the recently fired Mike Quade, one obvious name in rumors former Red Sox manager Terry Francona.

"Tito and I have spoken regularly since the end of the season," Epstein told ESPNChicago.com. "We actually spoke today. We are going to sit down together and see if it's a fit."

So that seemed to fan the flames. Then again, Jon Heyman of SI.com reports there is "very little" chance (even saying to read that as "no" chance) Epstein hires Francona and that he was only being polite with the above statement.

Multiple reports have noted that Epstein isn't planning on interviewing Francona because he doesn't need to -- as that was his only manager in Boston. Epstein hired Francona prior to the 2004 season to replace Grady Little, and Francona compiled 744 wins in eight seasons. He took the Red Sox to the playoffs five times, winning the AL pennant twice and the World Series twice.

Given the Cubs' need to change the entire culture in Wrigley Field and produce a more disciplined system, hiring Francona probably wouldn't be the best idea. After the Red Sox collapse and the revelations about the locker room following the season, it would seem to be a bad PR hire. Thus, I'm inclined to believe Heyman.

The Cubs are reportedly going to interview Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. and Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum. They will not interview Cubs' Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg.

Don't expect an answer until sometime next week, because Maddux has laryngitis and had to postpone his interviews until he can speak (Fox Sports Southwest). Until then, expect to see more speculation on a Francona-Epstein reunion, and I'd advise ignoring it.

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Posted on: November 3, 2011 2:48 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 9:07 pm

Maddux, Alomar to interview for Cubs, Red Sox

Mike MadduxBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux will interview for both the openings with the Cubs and the Red Sox, Texas general manger Jon Daniels told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Maddux is one of a number of candidates being considered by both teams. Dale Sveum and Pete Mackanin have already interviewed with the Red Sox and are also expected to interview with the Cubs. Cubs president Theo Epstein confirmed Thursday that both Mackanin and Maddux will interview for the job in Chicago. Both teams are reportedly interested in Sandy Alomar Jr., as well. WEEI.com reported Alomar, the Indians bench coach, will interview in Boston next week.

Maddux joined the Rangers as pitching coach before the 2009 season after six seasons in the same capacity with the Brewers.

"Mike is in a key role for us and has had a prominent hand in our success the past few years," Daniels told the Star-Telegram. "But this is a unique opportunity to discuss a coveted position with two storied franchises, and we believe in allowing our people to pursue opportunities that they're interested in. It reflects well both on Mike and our organization that he's under consideration."

It should be of little surprise that there is a lot of overlap between the two lists, as Epstein had a hand in drawing up both.

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Posted on: November 2, 2011 11:55 pm
Edited on: November 14, 2011 9:08 pm

Cubs will not interview Ryne Sandberg


By Evan Brunell

Ryne Sandberg is not interviewing for the Cubs' opening at manager, he confirmed to the Chicago Tribune.

The forner Cubs star, who left the organization last season after Mike Quade was chosen to lead Chicago, is now hoping he lands somewhere else as manager, if not the rival Cardinals.

"I hope the opportunities arise, and that's one of them," he said. "I'm still optimistic and excited about the possibilities."

Sandberg found this out when president Theo Epstein, proactive as always to head off potential stories, reached out immediately to tell the Cubs Hall of Famer he was not a candidate.

"Moments after the press release came out, Theo called me and left me a message stating Mike Quade was not going to be back in 2012," Sandberg said. "And he said they were going to do a managerial search of four to five candidates and that major league coaching experience or managing experience was one of the criteria that they were going to follow, and I would not be a candidate for that job.

"I called him back and told him I'd received the message, appreciated the phone call even though it wasn't owed. But it was appreciated. I wish him all the best and good luck in his new job."

Sandberg didn't seem to be bitter about the situation, and was looking ahead to the Cardinals and perhaps even Boston.

"I'm still hopeful for an opportunity to get to the major leagues somewhere," he said. "I don't know what else I need to do after this season. I'm comfortable with that, and still hopeful for a chance."

Actually, one thing Sandberg could do is become a third-base coach in the majors for a couple of seasons. That would cement his chances to manage. Even Epstein told him as much -- if he had major-league coaching experience, he would be considered. That's a logical next step for Sandberg to take. And why not back with the Cubs? Somewhere, some team should be willing to have Sandberg as a major-league coach, as long as Sandberg is willing.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com