Are the Cubs looking to sign another free-agent right fielder or trade for one, or will Nate Schierholtz take that position?
— Chad G., Baton Rouge, La.
What’s the point, now that they missed out on Lance Berkman?
CARRIE: Apparently, it’s Schierholtz’s job. GM Jed Hoyer said the outfielder will get the majority of playing time in right.
The rest of the time, they’ll put a picture of Bryan LaHair out there.
CARRIE: “We feel he’s a guy who has been undervalued and a guy who with more at-bats can thrive,” Hoyer said Wednesday. “[After] playing in the NL West, playing 100 games in tough hitters’ ballparks — I think he can certainly thrive out of that environment. As we look at our roster today, he’d play in right, probably in some kind of platoon.”
The follow-up question for an ordinary reporter would have been, “With whom?” Carrie is no ordinary reporter.
CARRIE: Don’t look for the Cubs to fill a spot with free-agent outfielder Michael Bourn. He received a qualifying offer from the Braves, and if signed, would require the Cubs to give up their second-round Draft pick (the Cubs’ first-round pick is protected). Plus, Bourn, 30, was reportedly looking for a $100 million deal.
Isn’t it nice that the Cubs are now competent enough that they care about losing a second-round draft pick?
CARRIE: In an interview Thursday night on Boston’s WEEI radio, Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, stressed the importance of keeping top Draft picks because of changes in the Collective Bargaining Agreement.
You can take the boy out of Boston, but you can’t get those obsessive Massholes to leave him alone. HE BROKE UP WITH YOU! GET OVER IT!
CARRIE: “There aren’t multiple paths into the amateur marketplace anymore,” Epstein said. “In the past, you could give up a high pick and realize you were going to overpay someone later on. You could give up a couple Draft picks and realize that you’d just go out and try to dominate international free agency that year. You just don’t have the ability to do those things anymore.
“You could give Ryan Dempster a no-trade clause. You could trade young players for Juan Pierre. You could- Jeromy Burnitz, guys.”
CARRIE: “So, when you surrender a Draft pick and the pool space that goes with it,” he said, “you’re really admitting that you’re not going to have as impactful a Draft that year as you would otherwise, and that’s something that’s really hard to do, given the price of free agents these days and just how meaningful it is to develop your own talent and have that player under control for six years. It’s really hard to say, ‘Hey, we’re trying to build a healthy organization, but we’re going to do it while admitting our Draft is not going to be quite as impactful this year.'”
I love how good Theo is at talking trash about the former front office without overtly saying the old front office was a festering pile of shit.
I haven’t heard much about Jorge Soler this offseason. Is he playing winter ball? And is there a chance we’ll see him in the bigs this coming season?
— Sean M., Skokie, Ill.
It blows my mind that people care this much about the Cubs in the offseason. Look at you, dear reader. You’re reading a sparsely-updated Cubs niche blog on the Monday afternoon of the National Championship game. It’s tough enough to watch this team during the summer.
CARRIE: Soler, who turns 21 on Feb. 25, did not play winter ball. He only played in 34 games in 2012, including 20 with Class A Peoria. Expect to see him a lot this spring, but he’s projected for 2014 in the bigs.
I expect to see him not at all this spring, because the only thing worse than watching a mediocre baseball team is watching a mediocre baseball team practice.
When will the list of former and current Cubs players attending the Cubs Convention be released?
— Ben H., New Lenox, Ill.
Such a Muskbox question.
CARRIE: As soon as the Cubs’ marketing folks release the list, it will be posted on Cubs.com. So far, players expected to attend include Darwin Barney, David DeJesus, Anthony Rizzo, Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza, Starlin Castro and Alfonso Soriano. The 28th Cubs Convention will be held Jan. 18-20 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, 301 E. North Water Street, Chicago.
This, folks, is why we get together and drink instead of actually attending the Cubs Convention.
It seems the Cubs have gone from not enough starters to having too many. Who do you project as the starting five, and what will happen to the rest? I know some have relieved in the past, but my guess is they signed with the Cubs with the understanding they would start.
— Ken A., Oswego, Ill.
If the 10th starter they signed had the understanding that he’d start, that’s on him, not on the Cubs.
CARRIE: I can give you three: Samardzija, Edwin Jackson and Scott Feldman. Because Scott Baker is coming back from Tommy John surgery and Matt Garza is returning from an elbow injury, both could be given extra time.
But, obviously, they would be the other two starters.
CARRIE: Lefty Travis Wood also is in the mix. They hope it’s enough. Last year, the Cubs used a franchise-record 30 pitchers.
I’d love to watch Theo Epstein rattle them off Good Will Hunting-style.
Do you think that eventually the Cubs will just mold Javier Baez or Junior Lake to play third or second? If the Cubs plan on keeping Starlin Castro at shortstop, I feel they should stick with molding that duo into different positions.
— Dave J., Sheboygan, Wis.
Like quarterback and tight end!
CARRIE: The emphasis now is on development at the plate and in the field, not “molding.” Because Baez and Lake are both very athletic, they could move to another position if necessary. Lake played left field, third base and shortstop in the Dominican Republic this winter, and Baez did get some time at third in the Arizona Fall League.
But at least ONE of them is going to be better in the field than Castro, right?
Have the Cubs given up on Josh Vitters as their third baseman of the future?
After 99 at-bats? God, I hope not.
He’s only 23 and has limited time in the Majors, yet he is never mentioned as a candidate to win the third-base job out of Spring Training. Everyone is handing the job to Ian Stewart, who has played in 103 games the last two years, hitting a combined .183. Why is everyone giving the job to Stewart?
— Dylan P., Shiloh, Ohio
Because they paid him.
CARRIE: If Vitters had done better when called up, you wouldn’t be asking that question.
Because people wouldn’t be giving up on him, and they probably wouldn’t have brought back Stewart. What a stupid point.
CARRIE: Stewart has the edge in big league experience, plus he was trying to play despite a wrist that ultimately required surgery.
You know what would have been better there? TWO sentences.
CARRIE: Vitters batted .121 with the Cubs. He’s done better in his second year at a level than the first, and they hope that trend continues.
The .121 trend, or the improving in his second year trend?
Why isn’t Alfonso Soriano being considered as a potential third-base option?
Oh my god.
With his middle-infield experience…
Where a third baseman isn’t.
…and power numbers at the plate, I think a Soriano at third experiment this spring could offer the Cubs flexibility and more run production out of the lineup. The worst that happens is Soriano goes back to left field.
— Raker D., Huntington Beach, Calif.
The worst that happens is that some kid accidentally watches Soriano play third base.
CARRIE: The Cubs are not considering this. Soriano turns 37 on Monday.
CARRIE: He has not played the infield since 2005, when he made 21 errors as the Rangers’ second baseman.
Except for 2009, when he played second and third.
CARRIE: Think about how Soriano throws (sort of side-arm) and imagine that at third base. It’s not going to happen.
I’m not going to imagine it? You’re exactly right for once.