Cubs news and rumors


MILWAUKEE — The Cubs will meet Wednesday with Brewers hitting coach Dale Sveum about their vacant managerial position. Sveum was already scheduled to travel here to meet with the Red Sox about a their manager job.

Chicago general manager Jed Hoyer said there is no favorite among the candidates and no deadline to select one. Hoyer and Theo Epstein, the Cubs’ president of baseball operations, have done followups with the six interviewed candidates so far. The list includes Sveum, Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale, Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux, Indians bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr., and former Boston manager Terry Francona. — Carrie Muskat

I believe Esptein or Hoyer also said yesterday that the process is obviously winding down and we could hear who the new manager is by the end of the week or in the early part of next week.

Kerry Wood

Muskat reports that the Cubs are exploring the option of bringing Wood back in 2012. Wood last said that he’d retire if the Cubs didn’t bring him back. Bill James projects a 3.99 FIP in 52 innings. CAIRO projects a 3.59 FIP in 55 innings. ZiPS projects a 3.78 FIP in 46.2 innings. That’s an average FIP of 3.79 and an average IP of 51 innings. If we use a 1.3 LI that’s .6 WAR. He’s worth $2.9 million. It’s likely he’ll return for less than that like he did a year ago. Wood isn’t all that good these days, but unless the Cubs go nuts and give him a large contract, he’ll be worth it.

Yoennis Cespedes, Jorge Soler and Chris Capuano

Is it one ‘n’ or two? The Cubs are among several teams interested in Cespedes. The Cubs are also one of a few teams interested in 19 year old Cuban defector Jorge Soler.

MILWAUKEE — The Cubs are one of numerous teams with top scouts in the Dominican Republic this week to look at power-hitting Cuban defector Yoennis Cespedes.

But the Cuban defector the Cubs are targeting with greater interest, according to sources, is another athletic, hard-hitting outfielder – a seven-years-younger version of the flavor-of-the-month Cespedes: Jorge Soler, 19.

Soler, who defected this year and is expected to become a free agent within weeks, is exactly the kind of player the Cubs’ new regime is looking for as it restocks the farm system and tries to build a long-term home-core contender.

That link also says the Cubs are interested in Chris Capuano. Bill James projects a 4.08 FIP. I’m going to ignore innings projections for Capuano considering the injuries in recent years. CAIRO projects a 3.95 FIP. ZiPS projects a 4.20 FIP. That’s an average 4.08 FIP projection. Last season Capuano threw 186 innings so if we go with a 150 innings projection, Capuano is worth 2.2 WAR. Gordo says he’s looking for a two-year deal so that gives me an opportunity to use something that Tango published yesterday. I’m going to start at $4.8 million per win and increase it by 5% annually. Average Annual Value Plus Years Signed. Pretty simple.

Basically, if a guy wants another year he takes $1 million less per year. For Capuano it would be something like this:

yrs per year total
1 10.6 10.6
2 9.6 20.2
3 8.6 28.8
4 7.6 36.4
5 6.6 43

I’m not saying the Cubs should sign Capuano to 5 years. That would be kind of nuts. This is more important in looking at players who might be worth a 5-year deal. Capuano is not. He’s apparently looking for a 2-year deal and he made only $4 million last year. If the Cubs could sign Capuano to something like a 2-year deal for $12 million with some type of third year option it would be a very good deal for the Cubs.

Mark Buehrle

The Cubs and Buehrle’s agent have spoken several times and the Cubs are obviously interested. I don’t think Buehrle would want to play for the Cubs, but if they’re offering the most money I doubt he turns it down. ZiPS hasn’t done the White Sox yet, but Bill James projects a 4.08 FIP and CAIRO projets a 4.02 FIP. Those are for the AL so when we calculate our WAR we’ll increase it by .5 since the AL is the superior league. Buehrle is a work horse who has never pitched fewer than 200 innings (other than his rookie year when he was primarily a reliever). We can reasonably expect at least 200 innings from Buehrle and he has an average 4.04 FIP projection for the American League. That makes Buehrle worth 3.4 WAR in the American League. Those same stats would be 3.0 in the NL, but we know he’s a 3.4 WAR pitcher in the AL. He’s worth that.

On a 3-year contract he’d be worth $43.6 million. At 4 years he’d be worth about $54 million and then $63 million on a 5-year deal. Buehrle is a very good pitcher and that’s not an unreasonable contract. If the Cubs could Buehrle for a 4-year, $50 million contract with an option for a 5th year they’d have gone a long way to improving their rotation. At 5/63 it’s a fair deal.

Let’s say the Cubs do sign Capuano and Buehrle. They have Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster returning. Carlos Zambrano can come back if he his bropologies are accepted by numerous teammates and he jumps through whatever other hoops the Cubs have set up for him to do. I think that’s unlikely, but let’s say he manages to complete all of the necessary steps to return to the Cubs. The Cubs rotation would then be Garza, Buehrle, Dempster, Capuano and Zambrano.

The Cubs want to put Andrew Cashner in the rotation and there’s even been talk about moving Jeff Samardzija into the rotation. Then there’s Randy Wells. This is why I believe that Zambrano doesn’t have much chance to return. The Cubs have been and are still moving forward as if Zambrano won’t be a member of the team. Let’s adjust our rotation a bit to Garza, Buehrle, Dempster, Capuano and Cashner. You can move every one up a notch if they don’t get one of Buehrle or Capuano and insert Wells at the back of the rotation.

They’d get about 4 WAR out of Garza, 3.4 from Buehrle, about 2.5 from Dempster, 2.2 from Capuano and trying to guess on Cashner would be foolish. The front four of that rotation would be projected to produce about 12.1 WAR. It’s not a fantastic rotation by any means, but it would be a really deep rotation. Hoyer has talked several times about how the rotation needs to be improved and how they lacked depth a year ago. Last year the Cubs entire rotation combined for 9.7 fWAR. If they could get the production from the above four and a solid contribution from Cashner and others who may fill in at times it would be a pretty good rotation. And it wouldn’t cost an arm and leg to put together.

The Cubs are also one of the teams in on Yu Darvish. The Cubs won’t sign all three of these starters, but the Cubs appear very interested in signing at least two, moving Cashner into the rotation and that leaves no room for Zambrano.

Fire Sale

The Cubs have apparently told teams they’re willing to take offers on any player on the team this offseason in an effort to rebuild the farm system and compete in the future. As MLBTR says, Garza and Sean Marshall will draw a lot of interest. Some teams will a little interest in Carlos Marmol. Geovany Soto could be a big draw, especially if the Cubs wait for him to have his typically good even numbered year. They really don’t have a lot of other pieces that teams will show much interest in. Jeff Baker, Blake DeWitt and Darwin Barney might be attractive for small market teams or as depth on the bench for others. Tyler Colvin is kind of useless. The Cubs would require quite a haul in order to trade Starlin Castro so I think we can safely say  he’s not available. If some team offered a ridiculous amount, sure, but that’s not likely. If this is true, I’d say it becomes more likely that Garza, Marshall and Marmol won’t be with the team after July 31st next year. Maybe not even when the season begins.