New Look Cubs Begin to Take Shape
Lost in the hoopla surrounding the Cubs since the end of the season was the little matter of deciding Mike Quade’s future. Even if we, and most Cub fans knew that Mike Quade was not Major League manager material, the Cubs brass
needed to make that official. Shortly after the Cubs front office was completely re energized, the no brainer decision to let Mike Quade pursue other opportunities, most likely in the minors or outside of baseball was made. We will give Epstein some credit here with the way he handled the process of letting Quade go, very professional. He made multiple trips to meet with Quade, and had a number of conversations with him and others in the organization to see if he would be a good fit, not based on what he had done it the past, but where he thought, and wanted this team to go in the future. Clearly, Quade’s idea’s did mesh with the idea’s of the new regime that was now in place, and he was let go from his two year deal that had one year remaining on it. Epstein and company didn’t have to go far to find the 52nd manager of the Chicago Cubs, just a short trip up I-94 to Milwaukee to find Dale Sveum. Sveum, serving as the third base coach in 2004 with the Red Sox, won a World Series title with Epstein. Since 2006, Sveum was on the Brewers coaching staff with titles ranging from third base coach, to bench coach, and to most recently hitting coach. Sveum did get a crack at the managerial position albeit a short one in 2008 when he took over for Ned Yost and led the Brewers to a 7-5 record down the stretch and a NL Wild Card berth. Along with Sveum, the following coaches will be joining the Cubs this season...
- Bench Coach – Jamie Quirk
- Pitching Coach – Chris Bosio
- Third Base Coach – Pat Listach
- First Base Coach – Dave McKay
- Returning Hitting Coach – Rudy Jaramillo
That pretty much sums up the organizational portion of the off season that we wanted to quickly recap for you, because we felt it was such an important part of the team and it’s future. Next, we will discuss the Cubs moves up until this point of the off season.
**Free Agent Departures (New Team)**
- Aramis Ramirez (Milwaukee Brewers)
- John Grabow (two years too late) (Los Angeles Dodgers)
- Carlos Pena (Tampa Bay Rays)
- Ramon Ortiz (unsigned, probably forever)
- Koyie Hill (St. Louis Cardinals)
Obviously the two names that stand out here are Ramirez and Pena. Let’s start with Ramirez, it’s a tough situation considering he was the object of a lot of fans (and broadcasters) disappointment and blame for the Cubs past couple of seasons. What a lot of people might forget is that like it or not, he was the best third baseman the Cubs have had since Ron Santo, and that is not something that is easily replaced. On the other hand, it is very clear that the new regime in charge will not stand for lack of effort, especially on the defensive side of things. Ramirez routinely turned routine ground balls into adventures, basically because he Roger Dorn’d them. From an outsiders point of view, say, the people in Milwaukee, his numbers might make him look like a great option at third base. While that might be true some of the time, his overall lack of effort in all areas of the game, and seemingly impossible stretches of not producing are mind numbing. Carlos Pena was exactly who we thought he was, and did exactly what he was brought to the Cubs to do. Cubs needed a left handed power threat, and that’s what he was. He was only signed to a one year deal, so the fact that he wasn’t dealt at the deadline once it was apparent the Cubs were not going to contend was a little bit of a surprise, however, the Cubs will receive compensation from MLB in the form of a draft pick (sandwich) due to his type B-FA status. The other FA’s lost to free agency were no more helpful than Koyie Hill’s three fingers, two and a half.
**Free Agent Acquisitions** (Noteworthy, kinda)
- RF – David DeJesus (and Kim DeJesus)
- C – Jason Jaramillo
- RHP – Andy Sonnanstine
- RHP – Manual Corpas
- OF – Reed Johnson (Re-Signed)
- RHP – Rodrigo Lopez (Re-Signed)
- LHP – Paul Maholm
- RHP – Kerry Wood (Re-Signed)
Obviously, one the most important areas of improvement via free agency for the Cubs was pitching depth. Although the names might not jump out at you, the Cubs were able to snag their fair share of arms so far this off season. Maholm is a
solid acquisition given the fact that the Cubs have been without a left handed starter since Ted Lilly. He should be slotted to start the season in the Cubs rotation. Kerry Wood, back for another season with the Cubs, will once again be at the back end of the bullpen, most likely setting up Marmol. Lopez, Corpas, and Sonnanstine all have the opportunity to break camp with the big club, odds are they all might be fighting for the same spot out of the pen. Reed Johnson will be back after his rather productive 2011 season with the Cubs. Johnson will provide the perfect utility outfield support who is able to play all three positions. Jaramillo will replace Hill as the backup catcher to Geovany Soto, a really nice signing in our opinion, should provide more of an offensive punch than three finger Hill. It’s clear that Epstein and Hoyer wanted to bring in baseball players with the acquisition of David DeJesus, he will play the game the right way, and be a starting outfielder where needed for this club, currently he is slotted to be the starting right fielder.
**Off Season Trades**
Given the need at 3B, this deal makes a lot of sense for the Cubs. Basically Stewart and Colvin are the same player, just at different positions. Each player had one legit season at the Major League level, and then struggled, while bouncing back and forth between AAA and the active roster. With the change in philosphy, Stewart makes more sense for the Cubs because he sees more pitches per plate appearance, as well as an increase in OBP compared to Colvin. Cubs fill the need at 3B and hope to capture lightning in a bottle with Stewart. Weathers, while not the focus of the deal, provides another depth arm for the organization which as mentioned before was something the Cubs wanted to get.
Quick Hit –
– George Cotugno & Mark Sorrentino