Tag:Cubs
Posted on: October 31, 2011 1:46 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 1:50 pm
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Early odds for '12 show Phillies as favorites

By Matt Snyder

Bodog.com has released its early odds for the 2012 baseball season, and the Philadelphia Phillies are the current favorites to win the World Series. The defending champion Cardinals are tied for fifth with the Tigers, and there's a decent explanation for that we'll get to later. Here's a complete list of the odds to win it all, from top to bottom (again, according to the Bodog.com odds -- I'm not endorsing them, only passing them along):

Philadelphia Phillies                   4/1
New York Yankees                    13/2
Boston Red Sox                        8/1
Texas Rangers                          12/1
Detroit Tigers                             14/1
St. Louis Cardinals                     14/1
San Francisco Giants                 16/1
Tampa Bay Rays                       18/1
Atlanta Braves                           18/1
Arizona Diamondbacks               20/1
Milwaukee Brewers                    22/1
Chicago Cubs                            25/1
Cincinnati Reds                         25/1
Colorado Rockies                       25/1
Los Angeles Angels                   25/1
Los Angeles Dodgers                 30/1
Florida Marlins                           30/1
Chicago White Sox                    30/1
Washington Nationals                30/1
Oakland Athletics                      35/1
Toronto Blue Jays                      35/1
Minnesota Twins                        35/1
New York Mets                          35/1
Cleveland Indians                       50/1
Seattle Mariners                        60/1
Pittsburgh Pirates                      60/1
San Diego Padres                      75/1
Baltimore Orioles                       75/1
Kansas City Royals                   75/1
Houston Astros                          100/1

Now, as I alluded to above, I found a pretty obvious answer as to why the Cardinals weren't higher. After all, they just won the World Series and are getting ace Adam Wainwright back from injury. Sure, they aren't young, but I would have thought if the team returned intact with a healthy Wainwright, they should at least be somewhere around the Phillies, right? Well, Bodog has also sent out the odds for where Albert Pujols signs. Here they are:

Chicago Cubs                            7/4
St. Louis Cardinals                     2/1
Los Angeles Angels                   9/2
Washington Nationals                7/1
New York Yankees                    12/1
Boston Red Sox                        12/1
Los Angeles Dodgers                 12/1
San Francisco Giants                 12/1
Texas Rangers                          15/1
Toronto Blue Jays                      30/1

So Bodog is betting that more of the betting public believes Pujols will sign with the Cubs than with Cardinals, which means the Cardinals odds have to drop a bit.

One thing to remember on gambling odds is they're meant to predict the betting action, not the actual results. They're in the business of making money, so they're trying to get the most possible action on as many different teams as possible. Thus, more popular teams like the Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox and Cubs generally seem to have better odds than they should.

This post is meant for entertainment purposes only, but if you think there's a steal in here, go get some action and put your money where your mouth is. Just please do so legally.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 29, 2011 1:56 pm
 

Dempster picks up player option, stays with Cubs

DempsterBy Evan Brunell

Ryan Dempster has officially exercised his player option to stay with the Cubs, CSN Chicago reports.

New GM Theo Epstein will have to allocate $14 million to Dempster, which is way above market value and better than he could have done in the market. The 34-year-old finished 2011 with a 4.80 ERA in 34 starts, way over his 3.85 ERA from a season ago, but the righty did finish with at least 200 innings pitched for the fourth straight season.

Dempster figures to pair with Matt Garza at the top of the rotation in Chicago next year, but who fills out the rotation behind the two is anyone's guess.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 29, 2011 11:07 am
 

Free-agent position rankings: No OF stars

Carlos Beltran

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Carlos Beltran was the hottest name at the trade deadline and he'll be the top name in free agency. Still, no outfielder will come close to matching Carl Crawford's seven-year, $142 million dollar contract -- the entire crop may not get as much as Crawford and Jayson Werth put together. 

For all free agency moves, check out the CBSSports.com free agency tracker.

Carlos Beltran1. Carlos Beltran:
Even though he'll be 35 early in the 2012 season, the switch-hitting Beltran is the top outfielder available on the market, thanks to a bounce-back (and mostly healthy) year in New York and San Francisco. Although he didn't jumpstart the Giants' offense after his trade tot eh Bay Area, he still produced his fair share, if not more. One player couldn't overcome the Giants' overall lack of offensive production. He hit .323/.369/.551 with seven home runs in 44 games in San Francisco and .300/.385/.525 with 22 homers overall. 
Possible teams: Giants, Yankees, Marlins, Cubs, Braves

Nick Swisher2. Nick Swisher: The Yankees have a $10.25 million option on Swisher, who hit .260/.374/.449 with 23 homers in 2011. The money million won't be an issue for the Yankees, who will most likely pick up the option. There has been a report that New York may exercise the option and try to sign Beltran, then trading Swisher.
Possible teams: Yankees

Michael Cuddyer3. Michael Cuddyer: Cuddyer's versatility could make him a hot commodity. He's primarily played right field, but also played first, second and has played third in the past -- he even pitched a scoreless inning this past season, hitting .284/.346/.459 -- close to his career numbers. He also hit 20 home runs this past season and hit 32 in 2009 before the Twins moved to the spacious Target Field.
Possible teams: Twins, Red Sox, Phillies, Braves, Giants, Angels, Athletics, Cubs, Cardinals, Rockies

Jason Kubel4. Jason Kubel: The 29-year-old enters free agency after playing in just 99 games due to foot problems, it was the first time since 2007 he didn't play at least 140 games, but whoever signs him will be giving that left foot a thorough inspection. Kubel can play either corner spot and give a team some pop -- and if you're into RBI, he did have 103 and 92 in his last two full seasons.
Possible teams: Twins, Red Sox, Cubs, Reds, Indians

Josh Willingham5. Josh Willingham: The right-handed hitting Willigham had career-bests in home run (29) and RBI (98) -- but saw his batting average (.246) and on-base percentage (.332) take a tumble from not only his lofty 2010 numbers, but also his career averages (.262, .361). Willigham is hardly a Gold Glover and there are also concerns about his durability.
Possible teams: Athletics, Reds, White Sox, Twins, Orioles

Coco Crisp6. Coco Crisp: The 31-year-old is the top center fielder available, so that should help his stock. After a hot start, Crisp struggled in 2011, putting up his lowest on-base percentage (.314) since his second season in the majors. He did lead the American League with 49 stolen bases. The A's have had some interest in re-signing Crosp, but the price could be too high. The Giants have said to have interest in him, as well.
Possible teams: Athletics, Giants, Marlins

Grady Sizemore7. Grady Sizemore: The biggest risk/reward of the free agent outfield class -- if he hits free agency. The Indians have a $9 million option on the 29-year-old, who has played just 104 games over the last two seasons because of various injuries. He hasn't played more than 110 games in a season since 2008. When healthy, he's as talented as any player in the game -- but that's a huge if. Either the Indians will gamble and exercise his option or someone else will roll the dice.
Possible teams: Indians, Mariners, Giants, Marlins, Cubs, Reds

David DeJesus8. David DeJesus: DeJesus' first year in Oakland was a serious disappointment, as he saw his average drop .078 and his on-base percentage dropped .061, both to career-lows of .240 and .323, respectively. However, his batting average on balls in play (.271) was 45 points lower than his career mark and his walk rate increased, so it may have just bit a bit of bad luck -- and playing in the Oakland Coliseum. 
Possible teams: Padres, Orioles, Braves, Red Sox, Phillies, Athletics

Andruw Jones9. Andruw Jones: At 34 (he'll be 35 in April), Jones is no longer the elite defensive player he once was, but he put up solid numbers as a platoon player for the Yankees, hitting .247/.356/.495 with 13 home runs in 77 games, but hit .286/.384/.540 against right-handers. He could make a decent addition as a bat off the bench and late-gaem replacement in a corner outfield spot.
Possible teams: Yankees, Braves, Rays, White Sox, Reds

Cody Ross10. Cody Ross: After playing a pivotal role in the Giants' run to the 2010 World Series title and winning the NLCS MVP, Ross struggled in 2011, hitting .240/.325/.405 with 14 home runs. Wherever he lands, Ross will likely have to take a pay cut from the $6.3 million he made in 2010.
Possible teams: Giants, White Sox, Braves, Reds

J.D. Drew11. J.D. Drew: The biggest question is whether Drew will want to play as a 36-year-old platoon or bench player. The days of Drew taking a starting spot seem to be over, as he hit just .222/.315/.302 i 81 games this season. He was close to useless against lefties, hitting just .167/.259/.292 with one homer against left-handers in the final year of his five-year, $70 million deal with the Red Sox.
Possible teams: Rockies, Pirates, retirement

Ryan Ludwick12. Ryan Ludwick: Ludwick has a chance to disappoint his third team in a year -- as the 33-year-old has just not performed since taking off a Cardinals uniform. He started the season hitting .238/.301/.373 with 11 home runs in 101 games for the Padres and .232/.341/.330 with two homers in 38 games for the Pirates. In four years with the Cardinals, Ludwick hit .280/.349/.507.
Possible teams: Pirates, Braves, Reds

Kosuke Fukudome13. Kosuke Fukudome: It's safe to say Fukudome's next contract will be a little smaller than the four-year, $48 million deal he signed with the Cubs before the 2008 season. Fukudome was burdened by high expectations, failing to live up to the contract, hitting .260/.361/.399 in four seasons in MLB. A pretty good on-base guy, Fukudome's best as a leadoff man, which may make him a little more valuable than his numbers suggest.
Possible teams: White Sox, Indians, Reds, Athletics, Japan

Eric Hinske14. Eric Hinske: The Braves have an option on Hinske, and it's just $1.5 million -- so it's likely they'll pick it up. Hinske can play both outfield spots, as well as first base, so he's a useful bench player. However, the Braves are already a little too left-handed heavy and Hinske was dreadful against lefties (.118/.167/.294). 
Possible teams: Braves, Pirates, Mariners

Raul Ibanez15. Raul Ibanez: The Phillies seemed to want to find anyone other than Ibanez to man left field all season, but could never find anyone that was an improvement over the 39-year-old. His average (.245) and OBP (.289) both tumbled this season, but he still hit 20 home runs and drove in 84.
Possible teams: Phillies, Pirates, Mariners, retirement

Jonny Gomes16. Jonny Gomes: Goems projects as a Type B free agent and has publicly said he'd likely accept arbitration if offered. Gomes struggled in 2011, hitting just .209/.325/.389 with the Reds and Nationals, but did see his walk rate increase, although his power too a tumble, hitting just 14 home runs. He's best in a platoon situation, crushing left-handed pitchers to the tune of .311/.407/.456.
Possible teams: Nationals, Braves

Juan Pierre17. Juan Pierre: Pierre stole 41 fewer bases in 2011 than he did in 2010, but he was caught stealing just one fewer time, leading the majors by being caught stealing 17 times. Pierre was once fast, but doesn't seem to be anymore, which means he has very few marketable skills. Well, he did lead the majors with 19 sacrifice bunts.
Possible teams: Giants, Reds, Pirates 

Magglio Ordonez18. Magglio Ordonez: Ordonez re-fractured his right ankle during the ALCS -- the same injury that caused him to consider retirement during the season. Rehabbing that injury could be more than he would like to do at 38, especially coming off of a .255/.303/.331 season. Ordonez did look good in the ALDS victory over the Yankees, but his health just wouldn't hold out. 
Possible teams: Tigers, retirement

Corey Patterson19. Corey Patterson: Somehow, some way, Patterson keeps popping up in the big leagues. He's kind of like a weed. He doesn't do much of anything well, but he's kinda fast. Other than that… yeah. A career .252/.290/.400 hitter, you never think you'll see him again, but ultimately, you do.
Possible teams: Any

Juan Rivera20. Juan Rivera: Rivera's 62 games with the Dodgers after being traded from Toronto showed he may just have a little something left in the tank, hitting .274/.333/.406 with five home runs for Don Mattingly. He's still likely a platoon player, but can play both corner spots and first base. The Dodgers have expressed interest in bringing him back.
Possible teams: Dodgers, Padres, Pirates


Free-agent position rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | DH | SP | RP

Free-agent overall rankings: Position players | Pitchers

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 29, 2011 11:07 am
 

Free-agent position rankings: No OF stars

Carlos Beltran

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Carlos Beltran was the hottest name at the trade deadline and he'll be the top name in free agency. Still, no outfielder will come close to matching Carl Crawford's seven-year, $142 million dollar contract -- the entire crop may not get as much as Crawford and Jayson Werth put together. 

For all free agency moves, check out the CBSSports.com free agency tracker.

Carlos Beltran1. Carlos Beltran:
Even though he'll be 35 early in the 2012 season, the switch-hitting Beltran is the top outfielder available on the market, thanks to a bounce-back (and mostly healthy) year in New York and San Francisco. Although he didn't jumpstart the Giants' offense after his trade tot eh Bay Area, he still produced his fair share, if not more. One player couldn't overcome the Giants' overall lack of offensive production. He hit .323/.369/.551 with seven home runs in 44 games in San Francisco and .300/.385/.525 with 22 homers overall. 
Possible teams: Giants, Yankees, Marlins, Cubs, Braves

Nick Swisher2. Nick Swisher: The Yankees have a $10.25 million option on Swisher, who hit .260/.374/.449 with 23 homers in 2011. The money million won't be an issue for the Yankees, who will most likely pick up the option. There has been a report that New York may exercise the option and try to sign Beltran, then trading Swisher.
Possible teams: Yankees

Michael Cuddyer3. Michael Cuddyer: Cuddyer's versatility could make him a hot commodity. He's primarily played right field, but also played first, second and has played third in the past -- he even pitched a scoreless inning this past season, hitting .284/.346/.459 -- close to his career numbers. He also hit 20 home runs this past season and hit 32 in 2009 before the Twins moved to the spacious Target Field.
Possible teams: Twins, Red Sox, Phillies, Braves, Giants, Angels, Athletics, Cubs, Cardinals, Rockies

Jason Kubel4. Jason Kubel: The 29-year-old enters free agency after playing in just 99 games due to foot problems, it was the first time since 2007 he didn't play at least 140 games, but whoever signs him will be giving that left foot a thorough inspection. Kubel can play either corner spot and give a team some pop -- and if you're into RBI, he did have 103 and 92 in his last two full seasons.
Possible teams: Twins, Red Sox, Cubs, Reds, Indians

Josh Willingham5. Josh Willingham: The right-handed hitting Willigham had career-bests in home run (29) and RBI (98) -- but saw his batting average (.246) and on-base percentage (.332) take a tumble from not only his lofty 2010 numbers, but also his career averages (.262, .361). Willigham is hardly a Gold Glover and there are also concerns about his durability.
Possible teams: Athletics, Reds, White Sox, Twins, Orioles

Coco Crisp6. Coco Crisp: The 31-year-old is the top center fielder available, so that should help his stock. After a hot start, Crisp struggled in 2011, putting up his lowest on-base percentage (.314) since his second season in the majors. He did lead the American League with 49 stolen bases. The A's have had some interest in re-signing Crosp, but the price could be too high. The Giants have said to have interest in him, as well.
Possible teams: Athletics, Giants, Marlins

Grady Sizemore7. Grady Sizemore: The biggest risk/reward of the free agent outfield class -- if he hits free agency. The Indians have a $9 million option on the 29-year-old, who has played just 104 games over the last two seasons because of various injuries. He hasn't played more than 110 games in a season since 2008. When healthy, he's as talented as any player in the game -- but that's a huge if. Either the Indians will gamble and exercise his option or someone else will roll the dice.
Possible teams: Indians, Mariners, Giants, Marlins, Cubs, Reds

David DeJesus8. David DeJesus: DeJesus' first year in Oakland was a serious disappointment, as he saw his average drop .078 and his on-base percentage dropped .061, both to career-lows of .240 and .323, respectively. However, his batting average on balls in play (.271) was 45 points lower than his career mark and his walk rate increased, so it may have just bit a bit of bad luck -- and playing in the Oakland Coliseum. 
Possible teams: Padres, Orioles, Braves, Red Sox, Phillies, Athletics

Andruw Jones9. Andruw Jones: At 34 (he'll be 35 in April), Jones is no longer the elite defensive player he once was, but he put up solid numbers as a platoon player for the Yankees, hitting .247/.356/.495 with 13 home runs in 77 games, but hit .286/.384/.540 against right-handers. He could make a decent addition as a bat off the bench and late-gaem replacement in a corner outfield spot.
Possible teams: Yankees, Braves, Rays, White Sox, Reds

Cody Ross10. Cody Ross: After playing a pivotal role in the Giants' run to the 2010 World Series title and winning the NLCS MVP, Ross struggled in 2011, hitting .240/.325/.405 with 14 home runs. Wherever he lands, Ross will likely have to take a pay cut from the $6.3 million he made in 2010.
Possible teams: Giants, White Sox, Braves, Reds

J.D. Drew11. J.D. Drew: The biggest question is whether Drew will want to play as a 36-year-old platoon or bench player. The days of Drew taking a starting spot seem to be over, as he hit just .222/.315/.302 i 81 games this season. He was close to useless against lefties, hitting just .167/.259/.292 with one homer against left-handers in the final year of his five-year, $70 million deal with the Red Sox.
Possible teams: Rockies, Pirates, retirement

Ryan Ludwick12. Ryan Ludwick: Ludwick has a chance to disappoint his third team in a year -- as the 33-year-old has just not performed since taking off a Cardinals uniform. He started the season hitting .238/.301/.373 with 11 home runs in 101 games for the Padres and .232/.341/.330 with two homers in 38 games for the Pirates. In four years with the Cardinals, Ludwick hit .280/.349/.507.
Possible teams: Pirates, Braves, Reds

Kosuke Fukudome13. Kosuke Fukudome: It's safe to say Fukudome's next contract will be a little smaller than the four-year, $48 million deal he signed with the Cubs before the 2008 season. Fukudome was burdened by high expectations, failing to live up to the contract, hitting .260/.361/.399 in four seasons in MLB. A pretty good on-base guy, Fukudome's best as a leadoff man, which may make him a little more valuable than his numbers suggest.
Possible teams: White Sox, Indians, Reds, Athletics, Japan

Eric Hinske14. Eric Hinske: The Braves have an option on Hinske, and it's just $1.5 million -- so it's likely they'll pick it up. Hinske can play both outfield spots, as well as first base, so he's a useful bench player. However, the Braves are already a little too left-handed heavy and Hinske was dreadful against lefties (.118/.167/.294). 
Possible teams: Braves, Pirates, Mariners

Raul Ibanez15. Raul Ibanez: The Phillies seemed to want to find anyone other than Ibanez to man left field all season, but could never find anyone that was an improvement over the 39-year-old. His average (.245) and OBP (.289) both tumbled this season, but he still hit 20 home runs and drove in 84.
Possible teams: Phillies, Pirates, Mariners, retirement

Jonny Gomes16. Jonny Gomes: Goems projects as a Type B free agent and has publicly said he'd likely accept arbitration if offered. Gomes struggled in 2011, hitting just .209/.325/.389 with the Reds and Nationals, but did see his walk rate increase, although his power too a tumble, hitting just 14 home runs. He's best in a platoon situation, crushing left-handed pitchers to the tune of .311/.407/.456.
Possible teams: Nationals, Braves

Juan Pierre17. Juan Pierre: Pierre stole 41 fewer bases in 2011 than he did in 2010, but he was caught stealing just one fewer time, leading the majors by being caught stealing 17 times. Pierre was once fast, but doesn't seem to be anymore, which means he has very few marketable skills. Well, he did lead the majors with 19 sacrifice bunts.
Possible teams: Giants, Reds, Pirates 

Magglio Ordonez18. Magglio Ordonez: Ordonez re-fractured his right ankle during the ALCS -- the same injury that caused him to consider retirement during the season. Rehabbing that injury could be more than he would like to do at 38, especially coming off of a .255/.303/.331 season. Ordonez did look good in the ALDS victory over the Yankees, but his health just wouldn't hold out. 
Possible teams: Tigers, retirement

Corey Patterson19. Corey Patterson: Somehow, some way, Patterson keeps popping up in the big leagues. He's kind of like a weed. He doesn't do much of anything well, but he's kinda fast. Other than that… yeah. A career .252/.290/.400 hitter, you never think you'll see him again, but ultimately, you do.
Possible teams: Any

Juan Rivera20. Juan Rivera: Rivera's 62 games with the Dodgers after being traded from Toronto showed he may just have a little something left in the tank, hitting .274/.333/.406 with five home runs for Don Mattingly. He's still likely a platoon player, but can play both corner spots and first base. The Dodgers have expressed interest in bringing him back.
Possible teams: Dodgers, Padres, Pirates


Free-agent position rankings: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | DH | SP | RP

Free-agent overall rankings: Position players | Pitchers

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 26, 2011 8:23 pm
Edited on: October 26, 2011 8:35 pm
 

New Padres GM Byrnes won't let team suffer

Byrnes

By Evan Brunell

In a move that could decimate the Padres for years to come, new Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is razing the Padres front office, sniping Padres GM Jed Hoyer and his assistant, Jason MacLeod, who will fill similar roles in Chicago. San Diego will get a player to be named later as compensation, expected to be a low-level minor leaguer.

This move has been expected for a while, but now that it's finally official, we can look at the shockwaves of this deal in San Diego. Lost in all the hubbub over Theo Epstein joining the Cubs and the Red Sox promoting Epstein's protege, Ben Cherington, is the impact these moves have on San Diego. The club is losing two of its top executives to what is now a "dream team" structure in Chicago, after Epstein went looking for lieutenants he trusted once Boston refused to allow any executives to follow Epstein to Chicago. While the move was done with the blessing of Padres CEO Jeff Moorad, who now gets to elevate Josh Byrnes into the GM seat, it's a major change that could derail the club.

GM Carousel
Byrnes and Moorad have previous ties, when Moorad steered the ship in Arizona and brought Byrnes to town from Boston. The then-35-year-old was hired in 2005 (allowing Hoyer to rise to the assistant GM role with the Red Sox) and was given an eight-year extension prior to the 2008 season Under Byrnes' watch, the Diamondbacks did improve the from the season before, but that's pretty easy to do when the 2004 team lost 111 games. The team did go on to win a division title, but floundered for three seasons before Byrnes was cut loose partway through 2010.

The Diamondbacks' philosophy upon starting its franchise in 1998 was to go hard after top free agents and pay money for them to come to town. It paid off in 2001, with a World Series victory in a series that hasn't been matched since. However, all the deferred cash coming due to aging veterans hit the team hard, and Byrnes came in to try to turn it around. Under his watch, the D-Backs worked their way up from irrelevancy to winning the division title in 2007 with 90 victories. However, the club slumped after that season, all the way to last place in 2009 with 92 losses. When Arizona got 2010 off to a similarly poor start, that was it for Byrnes in town. In the meantime, the farm system suffered, as the club ranked No. 22 heading into 2011, according to Baseball America. However, as BA notes, 'Zona's system is rich in the low minors, which could eventually bear fruit. And of course, the Diamondbacks won the NL West in 2011, in no small part due to Byrnes' contributions.

Meanwhile, Hoyer and MacLeod have brought the Padres along rather nicely in the two years they had to replace Kevin Towers, who is now Diamondbacks GM. The Padres have a fantastic farm system, strengthened by the trade of Adrian Gonzalez to Boston and have made several savvy moves to boost the major-league team, such as plucking Cameron Maybin from the Marlins and seeing him develop into a quality centerfielder like he was supposed to. There's no question that losing Hoyer and MacLeod will hurt San Diego, but Moorad is extremely confident in Byrnes, who is still highly-regarded may even be better than before, having seen how things transpired in Arizona and learning from it

It's near impossible to speculate how well the Padres will do under Byrnes, but fans shouldn't despair. Byrnes understands how to work in a small market and will cultivate the farm system. Fortunately, the club has a well-established manager in Bud Black to oversee the team, so there won't be a risk of Byrnes making a mistake on who to lead the team on the field, having hired a green A.J. Hinch in Arizona and drawing the ire and scorn of many in the game (and yet, there's none for Robin Ventura...), with Hinch and the club showing a lack of fire that destroyed the team. (Hinch remains well-regarded and should manage again or become GM one day.)

Given how Byrnes and Hoyer come from similar schools of thought and worked under Epstein, it's unlikely Byrnes will rip up the processes that have been installed in San Diego over the last few years. Rather, he'll continue them, while putting his own stamp on the team. The rise of Arizona in 2007 and 2011 should make Pads fans confident in Byrnes, even though the loss of Hoyer hurts.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


Posted on: October 25, 2011 8:08 pm
 

Sandberg spotted in Chicago, rumors swirl

Ryne SandbergBy C. Trent Rosecrans

On the day Theo Epstein confirmed his Lincoln Park Starbucks visit earlier this month, there's another sighting of a possible Cub in the Windy City -- the Chicago Tribune quotes two Chicago baseball fans as having seen Hall of Famer and potential Cubs manager Ryne Sandberg in downtown Chicago on Tuesday.

Of course, Sandberg played for the Cubs for 15 seasons and has a home in Chicago, so reading too much into his strolling down a Chicago sidewalk on a Tuesday afternoon is quite the leap in logic.

Still, Epstein was announced as the new President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs on Tuesday and incumbent manager Mike Quade is perceived as a lame duck, while Sandberg was a candidate to get the job last year when the Cubs hired Quade and has gotten rave reviews from baseball people for his work as a minor league manager.

During his introductory news conference, Epstein said he would speak to Quade this week, but was noncommittal about his manager's future.

Sanberg interviewed for Boston's Triple-A managerial position last season, but he'd already committed to manager Philadelphia's Triple-A team, so he turned down the job in Pawtucket. Sandberg managed four years in the Cubs minor league system, winning the Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year Award in 2010. Sandberg's Lehigh Valley team won the International League wild card, going 80-64. The IronPigs were 58-86 in 2010 before Sandberg's tenure with the team.

I've talked to several baseball people who have been very impressed with Sandberg's managerial style and aptitude for the game, so when he does get a managerial position -- and he will -- it will be because of his merits as a manager, not because of his exploits as a player.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: October 25, 2011 11:20 am
Edited on: October 25, 2011 5:32 pm
 

Theo Epstein announced as new Cubs president



By Evan Brunell


Theo Epstein was introduced as the new leader of the Cubs during a news conference at 12 p.m. ET on Tuesday as Cubs' president of baseball operations.

"It feels truly great to be a Cub today," Epstein said in his opening remarks. "I'd like to thank Cubs fans for being so incredibly welcoming to me and my family already. ... I was ready for the next big challenge, and this is the ultimate challenge."

Prior to the conference, owner Tom Ricketts said the club sought commitment to player development, a strong analytical background and someone from a winning culture with a strong record, Alex Speier of WEEI relays. Epstein himself concurred, saying he wouldn't be in town without Rickett's "commitment to the fans and long-term vision for the organization."

In Ricketts' opening remarks, he said, "The major goal is to win a World Series. Today we take a major step towards acheiving that goal with the hiring of Theo Epstein."

"We look forward to going to work, because we have the best fans and the bast ballpark in baseball," Ricketts added, also noting that Cubs president Crane Kenney was "critical" toward bringing Epstein to the team. Kenney is expected to transition to overseeing the business aspect of the team with Epstein's arrival. "We look forward to saying that we have the best team in baseball," Ricketts said.

When Epstein began his remarks, he gave a shout-out to his former employers on top of his brilliant his op-ed piece published in the Boston Globe Tuesday morning.

"[A] quick thank you to [ex-Red Sox manager] Terry Francona and all the players and fans [in Boston]," Epstein said. "I'm really proud of what we accomplished, and I wish you all the best. ... I wouldn't trade my time with the Red Sox, but it was time to move on, and they're in great hands."

At the end of the press conference, Epstein admitted he would probably still be with the club if Francona hadn't left. That's interesting, given reports that he recommended to ownership in the late summer that Francona had lost the team and it was time for a new voice.

But this press conference was about his new role with the Cubs, and much of the conference was based on what is to come in Chicago.

"Baseball is better with tradition, baseball is better with fans that care, baseball is better during the day. Finally, baseball is best of all when you win," Epstein started off saying. He also promised the Cubs would be playing in October "regularly" and will win a World Series, a lofty goal that Epstein will be judged by his entire tenure in town. He promised "sustained success".

"When we win a World Series, It won't be because of any one person. It'll be because of all of us," Epstein said. "It'll happen because a scout drove the extra six miles to see a prospect. It'll happen because a minor league pitching coach took the extra time to work on a young pitcher's change-up... it will happen because of all of us."

Epstein spoke about "The Cubs Way," which should certainly mirror "The Red Sox Way" he instituted in Boston that led to two World Series rings. That way should be expected to include strong defense, a discerning eye for hitters and a strong bullpen along with a rotation that minimizes walks.

When asked "What makes you think you can do what nobody has done in 103 years?" Epstein didn't blanch. (Naturally -- it's not as if he had any opportunity to win with Chicago in 1940.) "It'll be all of us doing it," Epstein responded. "When I got to Boston, they hadn't won in 86 years, and we didn't run from that. We embraced it. And part of that is bringing in players that care more about each other, and more about winning, than any of those external voices."

When asked about incumbent manager Mike Quade, Epstein said that the manager, coming off his first full season as skipper, "seems like a great guy," and the two will speak in the coming week.

As for the question of compensation, Epstein seemed to skirt the issue and admitted a third party would probably be needed to finalize compensation.

Ricketts jumped back into the fray to note that he "talked to about 20 people in baseball who I trust -- people who could tell me who I should be looking for. And at the end of the process, it was apparent that Theo was the right man for the job." The owner also made it clear that Epstein is reporting directly to him.

In further remarks, Epstein referenced his op-ed piece and brought up Bill Walsh again.

"I mentioned in the article, and I cited Bill Walsh, on the theory that he and others have had that says that most coaches or executives gets about 10 years to make an impact. After that... it's time for a new challenge," Epstein said. "And that happens accross the board. You'll see that university presidents see their peak effectiveness in the first 10 years before they move on."

The discussion then shifted to how Epstein will approach putting together a team.

"My personal approach is that it's best to use non-traditional scouting and objective analysis," he said. "When you can use these at their best, you can view the player in an accurate lens... but when you put both together, that's when you get a really accurate picture." He did refuse to speak specifically about payroll and a couple of onerous contracts, such as Alfonso Soriano's. "I have a personal policy never to comment on player payroll issues," he said.

But Epstein did speak as to the best age to have a player in the fold.

"I think that there's a prime age for players. Maybe from 26 or 27 to 32, when you get the best production and bang for your buck," Epstein said. "If we do our job in the right way, we should have the most players in their prime, hopefully home-grown players moving in to their prime. And there's certainly a role for veterans, but we'll pay for future performance, not for past performance."

One could argue Epstein didn't do this in Boston, when he handed out large contracts to John Lackey and Carl Crawford. Crawford will only get two of his prime years in town and one of them was a disaster. However, Epstein didn't say he was going to follow that line of thinking completely -- only have an overall emphasis on it. That remained true in Boston, even with the signings of Lackey and Crawford, among others.

You can expect Wrigley Field to eventually undergo changes much like Fenway Park. Epstein hinted that upgrading the stadium would lend itself to more revenue.

Near the end of the press conference, Epstein references the movie Office Space as to what his last two weeks were like in Boston. "I felt like the guy in the movie Office Space, who kept showing up and nobody told him he didn't work there anymore," Epstein said. "So, I did end up in the basement with my cubicle and stapler, and I knew it was time to go to Chicago."

Stay tuned to Eye on Baseball as Boston will have its own conference at 3 p.m. ET to announce the ascension of Ben Cherington to Epstein's vacated GM spot.

Read up on the Theo Epstein madness here.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


Posted on: October 25, 2011 10:53 am
Edited on: October 25, 2011 12:35 pm
 

Ex-Red Sox GM Epstein speaks on departure

Epstein

By Evan Brunell


On the day that Theo Epstein will be named president of the Chicago Cubs, leaving the Red Sox after 10 seasons, he wrote an op-ed that appeared in the Boston Globe, in which he addressed questions as to why he left -- and in the process, may have shaped his upcoming press conference at 12 p.m. ET announcing the move to Chicago to be more about the Cubs, not the Red Sox, with many answers provided in the piece.

"The reason I am leaving has nothing to do with power, pressure, money, or relationships. It has nothing to do with September, either," Epstein wrote, noting that he felt Boston should have an explanation for why he was leaving -- and felt his own 12-year-old self would appreciate such an explanation too, relaying a story of how crushed he was when the Red Sox lost the 1986 World Series.

Among Epstein's notes are that he was planning on leaving Boston after 2012 and grooming Ben Cherington for the role, but found the challenge of the Cubs too enticing, thereby leaving a year earlier than intended. Epstein says he never would have made the move if he didn't believe Cherington was qualified to step in, saying "If not for the complete confidence I have in Ben to address these issues, I could not in good conscience leave the organization at this time. But there is no one in baseball more qualified to be the next general manager of the Red Sox." Epstein also said Cherington was "infinitely" more prepared to be GM than Epstein was in 2003, noting the many varied roles Cherington has held with the Red Sox since 1999.

Epstein also drew parallels between his own search for a new manager after Grady Little was let go following the 2003 season and the current search, saying that his bonding experience with eventual hire Terry Francona, who left the organization as well after 2011, was huge and Epstein did not want to deprive Cherington of that same connection with the eventual manager. Given that the plan was already in place to have Cherington succeed Epstein after 2012 -- a discussion that began in earnest in the summer when the Red Sox were in the midst of a 81-42 surge that left them with the best record in baseball for an extended period of time.

A major reason why Epstein felt comfortable leaving the Red Sox -- both after the season and after 2012 -- is due to Bill Walsh, one-time head coach of the San Francisco 49ers who passed away in 2007 as one of the greatest football coaches in the history of the sport.

"Football legend Bill Walsh used to say that coaches and executives should seek change after 10 years with the same team," Epstein wrote. "The theory is that both the individual and the organization benefit from a change after so much time together. The executive gets rebirth and the energy that comes with a new challenge; the organization gets a fresh perspective, and the chance for true change that comes with new leadership."

Epstein had incredibly glowing words for the organization on the way out, saying that the 7-20 September that destroyed the season for the Red Sox will serve "as an anomaly in the midst of a decades-long run of success for the franchise. Some good may even come from it." Some of that good is already on display, Epstein saying that the players he spoke to after the season are "predicating" themselves this winter while management plans to raise several standards. "September happened despite [the owners], not because of them," Epstein said of principal owner John Henry, chairman Tom Werner and president Larry Lucchino. Some have speculated as to whether Lucchino's relationship with Epstein was part of the reason the GM left. Lucchino mentored Epstein in Baltimore and San Diego before bringing him to Boston, but the two had a public fallout in 2005 when Epstein briefly resigned as GM at the end of October before returning a month later with more power. Epstein says he has "close" relationships with Henry and Werner, but put Lucchino in another category, saying his relationship with Lucchino was "complicated but ultimately productive and rewarding."

These words doesn't sound like a man desperate to leave Boston, but as Epstein explains, the reason he left one year earlier than intended was simply because the opportunity was too good to pass up.

"The Cubs -- with their passionate fans, dedicated ownership, tradition, and World Series drought -- represented the ultimate new challenge and the one team I could imagine working for after such a fulfilling Red Sox experience," Epstein wrote.

"I won’t be there, but the 12-year-old in me will be rooting for the Red Sox (except, of course, when they play the Cubs in June)."

Read up on the Theo Epstein madness here.

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