Results tagged ‘ Prince Fielder ’
With both Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder free agents, there’s a chance that at least one, if not both, could be out of the National League Central next season. Does that possibility of not having to face the two sluggers affect how Theo Epstein goes about his business with the Cubs?
“I try not to focus on that too much,” Epstein said Monday. “There’s a lot of work to do here. There’s a pretty big gap between where we are now and where we want to go, both at the Major League level and as an organization more broadly so. I think if we start tracking whether an opposing team might be a 91-win team or a 96-win team, it’s probably not the best use of our time.
“We need to try to build our own operation up to a point where we feel pretty good about consistently delivering a team that’s going to be a strong playoff contender,” he said. “There will always be good teams in this division — I think it’s an underrated division — and whether or not these impact bats stay or go, if they go, those teams are going to have more Draft picks and more resources available to them to improve the rest of their club. If they stay, those guys are tough to get out. Either way, I don’t think it will impact what we’re trying to do.”
– Carrie Muskat
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
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
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
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
Dale Sveum is a big fan of Prince Fielder.
“It’s just the way he plays the game,” Sveum said Friday. “It’s nice to watch a guy play and want to play every single day. He hits
the ball, he’s running as hard as he can. He pops up to the infield, he runs, every single day. It’s not like he takes the day off — ‘Oh, I’m mad today.’ Catchers, look out if he’s going to score.
“We were very fortunate,” Sveum said. “We had two of those guys, Rickie Weeks and [Fielder] who played the game as hard as anybody who ever played the game. [Fielder] definitely plays harder than anybody in the game now. When you get one, two, three, four guys to play that way, everybody falls into the way you want to play the game.”
Fielder is a free agent but doesn’t appear to be on the Cubs’ wish list.
“You’d like to have a lot of great players, all the great free agents out there,” Sveum said. “We’re trying to do something here in Chicago to build now and win right now but be smart about it, too.”
– Carrie Muskat
Ryan Dempster definitely gives the Brewers trouble. He’s now 13-3 in his career against Milwaukee after Friday’s win. He also beat them April 12 at Wrigley.
“Normally, he’s got a real good slider against our right-handed hitters,” Milwaukee manager Ken Macha said of Dempster after Friday’s game. “He’s got a real good split-finger [fastball] too, and tonight some of the left-handed hitters were saying they had a difficult time picking up the rotation on that.
“It’s just my feeling that we’re getting closer to breaking through on this thing, OK?” Macha said. “I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but we scored some runs off him down in Chicago, and tonight Prince [Fielder] comes up and hits a ball off the top of the wall and Rickie [Weeks] had tremendous at-bats against him. I think we’re getting close to breaking through, we just have to stay confident and have that feeling that we’re going to get him.”
The Cubs are 3-1 this year against the Brewers with two more games this weekend.
“For some reason, the Cubs are giving us a lot of trouble this year,” Milwaukee’s Gregg Zaun said. “It seems like every time we make a mistake out over the plate, they’re capitalizing on it.”
– Carrie Muskat