Results tagged ‘ Albert Pujols ’

12/1 Epstein on Winter Meetings, Z, Marshall & more

Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, touched base on a variety of topics prior to the Winter Meetings, which begin next week in Dallas.

* As far as the new rules stated in the collective bargaining agreement regarding the Draft, Epstein said the Cubs will simply have to make sure they get the evaluations right as far as scouting players. “You have to answer the ultimate question: which player is going to have the best career?” he said.

He said the adjustments — and potential limits on what teams can spend without incurring a penalty — will not affect how they spend money on free agents. The goal is to still develop the team through scouting and player development. He said, “We just have to be better” in terms of scouting.

* What about rumors the Cubs are reportedly pursuing free agents Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder?

“I don’t think we pay too much attention to rumors,” Epstein said.

The priorities haven’t changed. Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer want to build the Cubs the right way for the long haul, mainly through scouting and player development and with the acquisition of young players. The second aspect is taking advantage of every opportunity they can.

“We’re not going to do anything to serve the second priority that disrupts the first,” he said. “If there’s a move that makes us much better in the short term but it’s at the expense of doing things the right way and building it for the long haul through a core of young players, we’re not going to make that move.”

So, keep that in mind when you hear the next rumor regarding the Cubs.

* Top priority heading into the Meetings? It’s starting pitching.

“We need starting pitching,” Epstein said. “You can’t take your chances very seriously as a club if you go into a season with not just five guys you can point to but six, seven, eight guys. You better know who your ninth starter is going to be because you’re going to need him. The numbers show you’re going to need your ninth starter through the course of the year.”

* Epstein said he enjoyed meeting the Cubs staff in the Dominican during a recent scouting trip. He would not comment on the players he saw, which included Cuban outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler.

* With the addition of David DeJesus, where does that leave Brett Jackson? Epstein said he hadn’t talked to the young outfielder yet but did say Jackson is “the type of guy we want here and he’s got a bright future here.” Jackson will have to show he’s ready for the big leagues. Epstein said there has been a trend to promote players quickly from Double-A. He says Triple-A is a finishing school, and some players need to take the time there.

* Carlos Zambrano is healing after taking a line drive off his face during a start in Venezuela. There is no timetable for Zambrano’s return to pitch there, but he is expected to make another start for Caribes. Big Z needed 16 stitches to repair a cut after he was hit.

* Where does Epstein see Jeff Samardzija and Andrew Cashner — in the rotation or the bullpen? Right now, Epstein said they’ve had discussions on the two right-handers.

“I do see both guys being really valuable pieces to the picture,” said Epstein, encouraged by Cashner’s performance in the Arizona Fall League. He also noted Samardzija looked much better in the second half of the season, and added “next year is a big year to build on that.”

Don’t expect Sean Marshall to be in the rotation mix.

“If you have the best left-handed reliever in baseball, it’s hard to think about taking him out of that role,” Epstein said.

* New manager Dale Sveum’s coaching staff could be announced next week.

* Don’t expect to see Epstein in the lobby of the Hilton Anatole during the Winter Meetings.

“It’s one of the few times that all 30 clubs are actively engaged in talking trade, which is nice,” Epstein said. “There’s a perception out there that the job of a GM or club president is always on the phone with the 29 other clubs talking about trades and it really doesn’t happen that often. You have to seize those opportunities at the GM meetings, at the Winter Meetings.”

So, he can pick up the phone and walk down the hall to talk to another team.

“I’ll be honest, you’re not going to see me down there [in the lobby] much,” he said. “I tend to stay in the room. I don’t like that scene in the lobby. We’ll try to get in the same room with our scouts and management team and gauge agents and scouts.”

– Carrie Muskat

11/30 Pujols & Fielder, Wood & the CBA

What about the Cubs’ reported interest in free agents Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder? GM Jed Hoyer would not comment specifically on the team’s rumored link to the two first basemen.

“As I’ve stated in the past, we’re a major market team and we’re going to be involved across the spectrum,” Hoyer said. “I’m not going to address whether we’re on or off individual players other than the fact that we’re in contact with a lot of teams and a lot of agents and we’re doing everything we can to improve the team for next year and the future.”

What is not a secret is that Hoyer has been in contact with Kerry Wood’s agent, Pat Rooney, regarding a new deal for the pitcher for 2012.

“We’d love to bring Kerry back,” Hoyer said. “He had a great year last year and he’s an excellent ambassador for the Cubs. The stated goal of bringing Kerry back has been made very clear.”

As far as the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the Cubs front office is still studying the new rules to determine how it will affect their plan.

“There are big changes, and Major League Baseball and the union made these changes for the greater good and it’s our job to figure out how it impacts our strategy,” Hoyer said. “It certainly will. I don’t think we’re at a place right now to say what we’re going to do because we’re still meeting on this. It is a significant topic of discussion in our office right now and it’s something we need to do a great job of adjusting to. The teams that adjust quickest will have an advantage there and we need to be among the teams that move quickly.”

– Carrie Muskat

11/29 Pujols or Fielder? It’s up to Theo

The Cubs are reportedly in contact with agents for Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, and while chairman Tom Ricketts would not comment on either, he said it’s not out of the question that the team would offer a long-term deal to anyone. That call, Ricketts said, is up to Theo Epstein, the Cubs president of baseball operations.

The Cubs are currently saddled with Alfonso Soriano’s deal, which will pay him $54 million over the next three years, and at least one more year for Carlos Zambrano, who is owed $18 million in 2012. Those contracts were done under former GM Jim Hendry. Asked if the Cubs would offer a mega deal to another player, Ricketts deferred to Epstein.

“Like I’ve always said, there is one person responsible for making those decisions, and one person accountable for those results,” Ricketts said Tuesday. “So if [Epstein] believes strongly that’s what’s in the best interests of the team, then he’s got my support.”

According to ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick, the Cubs have contacted Pujols agent to express their interest in the first baseman.
Crasnick said talks between the team and Pujols’ agent Dan Lozano are in the early stages. The Cardinals and Marlins are actively pursuing the three-time Most Valuable Player and nine-time All-Star. The Cardinals, Nationals and Marlins also are bidding for Pujols, and the Cubs’ alleged involvement may simply be one way to drive up his price.

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal and Jon Morosi reported Tuesday the Cubs were interested in both Pujols and Fielder, a favorite of new manager Dale Sveum. FOX Sports said restrictions on amateur spending will make it more difficult to build through the Draft, something Epstein wants to do in Chicago, which is why they are pursuing Pujols and Fielder.

– Carrie Muskat

11/29 The Cubs, Pujols & Fielder

FOX Sports cites “Major League sources” saying the Cubs are showing interest in free agents Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder. The report says the Cubs are inquiring about both because there is a small amount of sluggers available in future free agent markets and because of the new restrictions on spending in the Draft under the new CBA.

New Cubs execs Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are trying to rebuild the team, but the reality is that Pujols and Fielder don’t seem to fit their goal to build “a foundation of sustained success.” When Epstein took over the Red Sox prior to the 2003 season, he did sign David Ortiz, but got him for $1.25 million. Pujols and Fielder are looking for long-term mega deals. Those are the kind of deals (ex. Alfonso Soriano, Carlos Zambrano) the Cubs are trying to avoid. Plus, Epstein’s philosophy is to pay for future performance, not past.

– Carrie Muskat

6/4 Q: “I’ll take the heat”

Mike Quade had decided before the Cubs-Cardinals series how he was going to handle slugger Albert Pujols and on Saturday, it backfired. Pujols hit a walkoff homer with two outs in the 12th to power the Cardinals to a 5-4 victory. It was his second homer of the game.

“Guys fought their [tails] off,” Quade said. “We came up short. And I’ll take the heat for that, for pitching to Pujols.”

With the game tied at 4 and two outs in the 12th, Quade went to the mound to talk to Jeff Samardzija about Pujols.

“We talked about being real careful,” Quade said. “I won’t talk about being careful anymore. I’m not in the habit of walking people with two outs and nobody on. I understand how good [Pujols] is. We’ll have to re-think that a little bit. The pitcher’s spot was three holes away and that was our salvation. We figured if we could keep him in the ballpark, take your chances.”

Pujols launched a 2-1 slider into the Cubs bullpen for his 12th homer of the year and third of this series. Told that Quade was taking responsibility for the loss, Samardijza said the manager didn’t need to do that.

“I was the one pitching, and I was the one who gave it up,” Samardzija said. “Q’s been great. He came out and we talked about it and we knew the pitcher was a couple hitters away. We weren’t going to live down the middle of the plate with Pujols.

“I thought we made a couple pitches there but then again, if a guy like that is hitting, whatever you think is a good pitch has probably got to be a little better,” he said. “You’ve got to get it even down a little more, a little out a little more.”

– Carrie Muskat

5/10 Dominican players honored

The Cubs, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and Gisselle Castillo-Veremis, the consul general of the Dominican Republic, will honor players from the Caribbean island in a pre-game ceremony tonight. They will present Starlin Castro, Carlos Marmol, Marcos Mateo, Carlos Peña, Aramis Ramirez and Alfonso Soriano as well as the Cardinals’ Albert Pujols and Miguel Batista with a special recognition award on behalf of the president of the Dominican Republic.

The first Dominican-born Cubs player was Roberto Pena, who was the team’s Opening Day shortstop in 1965. Pena played in 57 games for the Cubs (1965-66), 55 of thoee games at shortstop. The Cubs first Dominican-born pitcher was Jose Nunez in 1990.

Carlos Pena is the 46th Dominican player to appear in a Major League game with the Cubs.  Of those 46, Sammy Sosa played the longest at 13 years.  Aramis Ramirez (nine seasons), Carlos Marmol (six seasons) and Alfonso Soriano (five seasons) are next on the seniority list.

At least one Dominican-born player has played for the Cubs every season since 1989. Last year, there were seven with Soriano, Castro, Ramirez, Marmol, Mateo, Esmailin Caridad and Welington Castillo.  Seven Dominican-born players also played for the Cubs in 1997.

The Cubs have expanded their commitment to the Dominican. They are in the process of finalizing details for a new academy there. Chicago Cubs Charities donated more than $40,000 to the Dominican in the last year. The money was designated to fund a rural health care program and doctor visits to communities to identify patients at risk for diabetes, to expand a surgical center recovery room, and to construct a new facility at a local school.

– Carrie Muskat

3/6 Ramirez on the run

Aramis Ramirez has asked Mike Quade if he can have the green light and run.

“They don’t pay any attention to me, I know that for a fact,” Ramirez said. “We’ll see what happens during the season.”

Ramirez has 15 career steals and has been caught stealing 14 times. He was going to run a couple times last year, but said Alfonso Soriano fouled the ball off, so Ramirez didn’t go.

“He’s all fired up,” Quade said about the third baseman. “He’s ready to roll. I told him, ‘Ask me April 1.’ We’ll leave that out of the mix right now this spring. I’m so happy with his approach this spring — don’t change a thing.”

Ramirez does not qualify as speedster.

“I can steal five or 10,” he said. “I don’t think you need to be a fast runner to steal bases. I don’t think [Albert] Pujols is fast. He stole 15, 20 bags. Even [Yadier] Molina isn’t fast.”

Pujols swiped 14 last year, Molina eight. So, should we expect 15 stolen bases from Ramirez this year?

“I don’t know if I’ll make it that far,” he said, laughing. “At least 15 tries.”

– Carrie Muskat

2/19 Ricketts meets with Cubs

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said the team will have some financial flexibility and could add a player during the season but wouldn’t comment on whether adding Albert Pujols is a possibility. Since Pujols rejected the Cardinals’ latest offer, the Cubs have been rumored to be a possible bidder if the first baseman becomes a free agent.

“I don’t have any insights or thoughts on any of that situation,” Ricketts said when asked about Pujols. “All I know is what I read in the paper. I guess it just has to sit until the end of the season.”

He said Major League owners are more concerned about the length of some of the mega deals than the money involved.

“If you’re going to sign someone for seven, eight years, you better make sure that’s the guy you want,” he said.

Ricketts said any additions made in-season would be up to GM Jim Hendry, whom the owners have had more involved in terms of budget decisions so he understands the team’s finances.

“All of that stuff is in Jim’s court,” Ricketts said. “There will be a little more financial flexibility at the end of the season than there has been in years past.”

And Ricketts’ message to the team?

“I think the message for the team this year and the theme for the team this year is the fact that through the last six weeks of 2010 we were one of the best teams in baseball,” Ricketts said of the 24-13 finish under manager Mike Quade. “We have that team back and that manager back and we’ve added to it. I think we build on that momentum and use the next 40 days to get ready for the season and come into the season with a sense of purpose and a sense of pride and get off to a quick start and have a great year.”

– Carrie Muskat

2/16 Q eager to see Pena, not Pujols

Albert Pujols’ decision to end contract talks with the Cardinals may have some Cubs fans speculating that he could be moving north in 2012 but not Mike Quade.

“That’s their deal,” Quade said Wednesday. “I’m looking forward to working with our guys on
Saturday. You hear, ‘Is that going to affect this or that?’ — they’re going to
be a good team. He ain’t going anywhere now, that’s for [darn] sure. He’s somebody
we have to get out and somebody we have to beat and I don’t care what happens
contract-wise right now with him. That’s between them and him.”

 
What about next year?

“Let’s hope
we’re all here next year and can answer the same questions,” Quade said.

One reporter speculated that the Cubs could be in the mix for the first baseman.
 

“Is he going to be here tomorrow?” Quade said. “I’m looking forward to
seeing Carlos Pena knock the daylights out of the ball and that’s all that
matters to me right now.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/14 No Pujols, no problem

Jeff Samardzija was feeling so good about his outing Monday that he was able to joke with Albert Pujols after the Cardinals batter flew out.

“I told him, ‘Too many pitches’ — he was wearing me down,” Samardzija said. “He’s a great dude. He’s obviously the best player in the game. You get to battle him three, four times a game with runners on whatever. It’s fun. He wants to get a hit, he wants to get a home run. You want to get him out. It’s just fun.”

The Cubs caught a break on Tuesday. Pujols was not in the lineup because of a sore left elbow.

“Of course it makes a difference,” Mike Quade said about not having Pujols in the lineup. “[Colby] Rasmus might have something to say about that. I’m never disappointed when you don’t have to figure out a way to get [Pujols] out.

“My bet is, if it’s a close game, I’ll have to figure out a way to get him out late because that’s the kind of guy he is. In my four years, he’s never not played against us, not that I can remember, and especially down the stretch.”

– Carrie Muskat

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