Tag:Cubs
Posted on: December 20, 2011 9:55 pm
Edited on: December 22, 2011 7:43 am
 

Blue Jays', Yankees' bids on Darvish reported

By Matt Snyder

Monday night, we found out the Rangers placed the highest bid on highly-coveted Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish, a bid that was in excess of $51.7 million. Between the posting deadline and the revelation that the Rangers won, we heard a small handful of teams that were said to have placed a bid on Darvish: The Rangers, Blue Jays, Cubs and Yankees were the most named ballclubs. We know the Rangers' bid. Tuesday, we saw reports of two others.

Darvish to Texas
The Yankees put in a bid, but evidently not a very serious one. The bid by the Bronx Bombers was less than $20 million, according to ESPN New York. Many Chicago-area reporters have speculated the Cubs did something very similar. The bids basically say that they'd welcome Darvish with open arms if other teams didn't get nuts in the bidding, but had no intention of coughing up anywhere near $50 million-plus.

The Blue Jays were reportedly not in that camp. [UPDATE: CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has heard otherwise.]

The Jays reportedly posted over $50 million, according to TheStar.com, and if that was the case, they barely lost out on landing the rights to negotiating with Darvish.

“I understand the passion and the interest levels in our team,” Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said (TheStar.com). “I have people come up to me in the street every day. It’s on us to provide a winning product. That’s what you want, but we want to make sure it’s done the right way.”

It's interesting to note the Jays were reportedly fully prepared to spend over $100 million -- the player is certainly going to want something in the ballpark of the posting fee, after all -- in this case. Might it be a precursor to going hard after a certain slugging first baseman? We'll see ...

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Posted on: December 17, 2011 8:34 am
 

Yoenis Cespedes strikes back with new video

Yoenis Cespedes
By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Marlins, Red Sox, Phillies, Tigers and Cubs have all seen Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes work out -- and how do we know? Cespedes' agent has released another video on YouTube, featuring Cespedes' workouts and pictures of the 26-year-old with the likes of Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and manager Ozzie Guillen, Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan, the Phillies' Pat Gillick and the Tigers' Willie Horton. There's also video of what the caption tells us is a private workout for the Cubs.

While the new video isn't as entertaining or outlandish as the one that introduced us to Cespedes last month, but it does show a lot more of why teams are interested in him -- as Cespedes not only shows off his impressive workout skills, but also baseball skills in nearly 10 minutes of batting practice footage, in addition to sprints and outfield drills.

Sadly, there are no cooking segments this time, even though the Star Wars-style intro remains, but there is a bonus scene after the credits, so make sure you stick around.

H/T: Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus.

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Posted on: December 16, 2011 11:33 am
 

Cubs name coaching staff, poach long-time Card

By Matt Snyder

New Cubs manager Dale Sveum has rounded out his coaching staff, the Cubs announced Friday via press release.

The biggest hiring of note is a first-base coach, as Dave McKay will take over. That is noteworthy because he has held the same position with the rival Cardinals for the past 16 seasons. He was also with Tony La Russa in Oakland for 10 years before that, so it's going to be quite the change for McKay.

Chris Bosio has been named the pitching coach. He previously served as the pitching coach for the Rays in 2003 -- he left the post for family reasons -- and the Brewers for the last several weeks of the 2009 season. He's also had great success in the minors as a pitching coach. During the Winter Meetings, Sveum spoke very highly of Bosio's tough-love approach with his pitching staff.

Also, Pat Listach has been moved from bench coach to third-base coach. Jamie Quirk will be the bench coach. Rudy Jaramillo (hitting coach) and Lester Strode (bullpen coach) will remain with the Cubs in their same positions.

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Posted on: December 14, 2011 1:23 pm
Edited on: December 14, 2011 1:28 pm
 

Zambrano climbing mountains, running on beaches



By Matt Snyder


Carlos Zambrano has long been one of the most mercurial players in the bigs. We've all seen his meltdowns and heard his excuses afterward. This past summer, when he skipped out on his teammates and uttered some words about retirement, he was placed on the restricted list by the Cubs. The thought was that he'd never play for the Cubs again, but that's now looking like a possibility.

Zambrano recently told reporters he is -- for what, the seventh time? -- a new man. From MLBTradeRumors.com:
"I'm preparing like when I was a rookie, climbing mountains, running on the beach, and exercising hard so that I can arrive at Spring Training in optimal shape," he said, as relayed by Joiner Martinez at Líder en Deportes. "I want to stay in Chicago for the two seasons I still have with the team. I'm not a coward who would take the back door out of the majors."
Climbing mountains and running on the beach ... uh, has he been watching the Rocky movies as inspiration? I wonder what name he yells when he gets to the top of the mountain? Maybe Michael Barrett's.

And I'm not quite sure "coward" is the right choice of words there. Only a complete and utter fool would leave the $19 million on the table Zambrano is owed in 2012. The cowardly act would have been to storm out of the locker room and leave his teammates hanging. Oh, wait ...

Zambrano Saga
For stretches, when Zambrano could remain healthy and sane, he produced as a frontline starting pitcher. He's a three-time All-Star who finished exactly fifth three times in NL Cy Young voting. After anger management sessions midseason in 2010, he closed the season in lights-out fashion, going 8-0 with a 1.24 ERA. But then Bad Z showed his face again in 2011 and it looked like the Cubs had seen enough. Then-general manager Jim Hendry basically kicked Zambrano off the team.

The problem, of course, is that Hendry also inked Zambrano to a huge contract -- five years, $91.5 million -- that began before the 2008 season. The second season Zambrano mentioned in the above quote, where he said he wants to stay in Chicago for two seasons? Good luck with that. There's a vesting option for 2013 that is guaranteed if Zambrano finishes in the top four of Cy Young voting this coming season.

It does seem that he'll at least get his chance, though. New Cubs president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer are giving every indication Zambrano is allowed back as long as he's on his best behavior. History indicates that won't last very long, but there's no reason to not give him a fresh start for a fresh administration, considering that untradeable contract.

One thing is for sure, the conclusion of Zambrano's time in Chicago is not going to be boring.

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 2:42 pm
 

If you need a third baseman, good luck



By Matt Snyder


Say what you will about Aramis Ramirez -- as many fans seem to have an extreme dislike of him for some reason -- but he was the only starting-caliber third baseman available this offseason.

No, Michael Cuddyer doesn't fit as an everyday third baseman. He played 14 games there in 2010 and zero last season. So he's not included in this discussion and it would be a huge reach to try and claim he is.

The best remaining free agent third baseman is Wilson Betemit. He is a pretty good hitter and is versatile, but he hasn't played in more than 97 games since 2007. And there's a reason he's played for six teams in nine seasons -- he's just not an everyday player.

Hot Stove Season
The other free agent third baseman? Yuck. Casey Blake, Eric Chavez, Greg Dobbs, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Omar Vizquel, Bill Hall, Jorge Cantu, Andy LaRoche and Alex Cora.

It's possible the Phillies trade Placido Polanco, as he's been mentioned in some light rumors, but would it really be a great idea to deal for a 35-year-old who had back issues last season? He's definitely in decline and has very little power.

So unless the Mets shock everyone and put David Wright up for sale, it would appear the guy currently atop the depth chart at third base for all 30 teams will remain there until opening day. The Tigers are probably stuck with Brandon Inge -- and maybe they just bring back Betemit and stick with the same situation as late last season. The Rockies will need to use internal options. The Marlins need to convince Hanley Ramirez he's happy at the hot corner. The Angels have to go with Alberto Callaspo or move Mark Trumbo across the diamond like they've discussed. And, yes, the Phillies are probably stuck with Polanco.

Put simply, the third base market this offseason consisted of one important name. And that name is now on a contract given by the Milwaukee Brewers.

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Posted on: December 12, 2011 12:54 pm
Edited on: December 12, 2011 6:46 pm
 

Brewers land Aramis Ramirez with three-year deal



By Matt Snyder


Brewers fans are in need of good news, and it's possible this will suffice. Slugging third baseman Aramis Ramirez has signed a three-year deal with Milwaukee, pending a physical, Danny Knobler of CBSSports.com has confirmed. The news was first reported by ESPN.com. CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman has learned the contract will be worth about $36 million.

Considering free agent Prince Fielder is headed elsewhere -- which is cemented with this signing -- and 2011 NL MVP Ryan Braun will likely be serving a 50-game suspension to open the 2012 season, there was a gaping hole in the middle of the prospective opening-day roster for the defending NL Central champs. While Ramirez isn't anywhere close to being as good as Fielder or Braun in the batter's box, he's a bona fide cleanup hitter.

Brewers' offseason
Ramirez, 33, has been with the Cubs since a midseason trade back in 2003, so he's been a member of three NL Central division championship clubs. He hit .306/.361/.510 with 26 homers, 93 RBI and 35 doubles last season, winning a Silver Slugger award. He's a two-time All-Star and has garnered MVP votes in four different seasons. And playing for a contender was important, which Ramirez believes the Brewers are.

"That was one of his criteria," agent Paul Kinzer said, via the Associated Press. "There were about four teams that he liked that were contenders, and Milwaukee was at the top of his list."

The move rounds out the left side of the Brewers' infield, as they signed Alex Gonzalez to play shortstop last week. Casey McGehee will flip across the diamond and play first base, with Mat Gamel also being in the mix there as well.

Ramirez has played his entire 14-year career in the NL Central.

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Posted on: December 11, 2011 3:48 pm
 

Indians add Felix Pie on minor-league deal

Felix PieBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Indians have agreed to a minor-league deal with former Orioles outfielder Felix Pie, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun tweets.

According to the report, Pie can earn up to $1 million in performance bonuses and can opt out by opening day.

Pie, a one-time top prospect of the Cubs, took a huge step back in 2011, hitting .220/.264/.280 in 85 games for the Orioles after hitting .270/.315/.424 with 14 homers and 60 RBI in his first two seasons in Baltimore. Pie offers debth in the outfield, as he can play all three positions. Clevelnad re-signed center fielder Grady Sizemore, who makes up the outfield, as of now, with Shin-Soo Choo and Michael Brantley.

The Indians are reportedly still in on free-agent outfielder Josh Willingham. The Mariners, Rockies and Twins are also interested in Willigham. Minnesota and Colorado see Willingham as a fallback option if either loses out on Michael Cuddyer.

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Posted on: December 9, 2011 5:40 pm
Edited on: December 9, 2011 6:41 pm
 

Best free agents left after winter meetings



By C. Trent Rosecrans

The winter meetings are over and some of the biggest names on the free-agent market are off the table, but that doesn't mean the hot stove has died out. So, the day after Albert Pujols and the Angels shocked the baseball world, here's a look at the top five position players and pitchers left on the market:

Postition players

Prince Fielder1. Prince Fielder -- The 27-year-old Fielder is the biggest fish left on the market, averaging more than 38 home runs in his six full seasons in the big leagues and posting a .929 career OPS. Whoever lands Fielder will get a shot to the lineup. The knock is Fielder's weight and the length of a contract.

Possible landing spots: Brewers, Blue Jays, Cubs, Mariners, Marlins

Carlos Beltran2. Carlos Beltran -- Beltran's been a bit of a forgotten name in all the winter meetings talk. Beltran will be 35 in April and just finished a seven-year deal with the Mets. After being limited by injuries in his last two seasons, Beltran had a bounce-back year, hitting .300/.385/.525 with 22 homers and 84 RBI and doing that in two home ballparks not known to be friendly to hitters, Citi Field and AT&T Park. He can still play center field, but is probably better suited on a corner.

Possible landing spots: Cardinals, Nationals, Red Sox, Tigers, Braves, Mariners, Cubs

Aramis Ramirez3. Aramis Ramirez -- Even though he has 14 years in the big leagues under his belt, Ramirez is just 33 and coming off a .306/.361/.510 season with 26 homers and 93 RBI. A two-time All-Star, he's by far the best third baseman on the market -- and it's not even close.

Possible landing spots: Brewers, Phillies, Marlins

Michael Cuddyer4. Michael Cuddyer -- Cuddyer will be 33 in March and can play both the corner outfield and infield spots, offering teams a versatile player. He hit .284/.346/.459 with 20 homers last season and hit 32 homers in 2009 before the Twins moved to spacious Target Field. The Twins have reportedly already offered him a three-year deal, as have the Rockies.

Possible landing spots: Rockies, Twins, Phillies, Giants, Red Sox

Jimmy Rollins5. Jimmy Rollins -- It seems odd to consider the 2007 MVP in anything but a Phillies uniform, but Pujols is now in California, so anything's possible. Rollins' offensive numbers have dropped off since his MVP season, but he still plays a premium position -- and one a couple of teams need to fill. A three-time Gold Glove winner, Rollins turned 33 last month. If he re-signs with the Phillies, it could be his last contract. Rollins is reportedly searching for a five-year contract, a tactic that may scare away every team other than the Phillies.

Possible landing spots: Phillies, Cardinals

Pitchers

Yu Darvish1. Yu Darvish -- The 25-year-old Japanese right-hander will reportedly be posted and has been seen as perhaps the best starter available. There's no shortage of teams that could be interested in Darvish, but the history of recent big-ticket Japanese pitchers could scare off some suitors and keep the posting fee lower than expected. Once his team in Japan, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighers, accept the posting, the winning team still has to negotiate with Darvish. The posting system, though, gives a chance for a surprise team to emerge the winner.

Possible landing spots: Rangers, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Yankees, Nationals, Royals

Hiroki Kuroda2. Hiroki Kuroda -- There's no question of how Kuroda will perform in the big leagues -- he's gone 41-46 with a 3.45 ERA in four seasons with the Dodgers. Kuroda had a 13-16 record in 2011, despite putting up just a 3.07 ERA. He told the team he wouldn't give up his no-trade protection at the trade deadline, but the Dodgers have already found replacements for him in the rotation. He has one offer on the table already from the Hiroshima Carp in Japan, but would make more money in the U.S.

Possible landing spots: Cubs, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Red Sox, Carp

Edwin Jackson3. Edwin Jackson -- The fact that Jackson has already played for six different teams and he's just 28 may raise some flags, but he's also had six teams want him at some point and for good reason. Although Jackson has battled inconsistency, he's still had results at times. He was 12-9 with a 3.79 ERA for the Cardinals and White Sox last season. He's not a No. 1, but he's younger than some of the other second-tier starters on the market, increasing his value.

Possible landing spots: Twins, Rangers, Yankees, Cubs, Royals, Nationals, Pirates, Rockies, Orioles

Ryan Madson4. Ryan Madson -- Even though there were reports the right-hander had agreed to return to the Phillies earlier this offseason, the team turned to Jonathan Papelbon instead. The Red Sox, who along with the Reds, are still searching for a closer could end up signing Madson and seem the best fit. In his firs tseason as the Phillies' closer, Madson recorded 32 saves, going 4-2 with a 2.37 ERA, striking out 62 batters in 60 2/3 innings.

Possible landing spots: Red Sox, Reds, Phillies

Francisco Cordero5. Francisco Cordero -- Like Madson, Cordero seems to be on the outside of the closer game of musical chairs. The Red Sox and Reds are the only team left looking for a closer. The Reds were interested in bringing back Cordero with a discount after declining their $12 million option on the 36-year-old right-hander. Cordero converted 37 saves last season and 150 in four years in Cincinnati.

Possible landing spots: Red Sox, Reds, Twins

Follow all the free agent moves with the CBSSports.com Free Agent Tracker 

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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