Results tagged ‘ Theo Epstein ’

12/5 Baez to stay at short for now

Javier Baez, the Cubs’ first-round pick in the June 2011 First-Year Player Draft, is creating a lot of buzz as he gets closer to the big leagues. However, he’s a shortstop, and the Cubs already have a talented shortstop in Starlin Castro. Do the Cubs move Baez? Not now, Theo Epstein said.

“At some point, creating options and creating versatility is a good thing,” Epstein said Thursday. “In Javy’s case, he’s got a tremendous combination of instincts and athleticism which makes us think he’ll be a natural at playing other positions.”

Epstein said amateur scouting reports say Baez could play every position, including catcher.

“I think it’ll be an easy transition for him if and when that time comes,” Epstein said. “He hasn’t even reached Triple-A yet. There’s plenty of time to do it. You don’t want to take shortstop away from a kid. Once you move off shortstop, it’s really hard to move back.

“There may be a time in the future when he moves on a permanent basis, and there may be time when we move just to give him versatility,” he said. “In Spring Training, he’ll play plenty of shortstop and that might be a time to move him around as well.”

Baez, 21, was named the Cubs’ Minor League player of the year after batting .282 with 37 home runs and 111 RBIs at Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee.

— Carrie Muskat

12/5 Tanaka update

The bidding may start soon on Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. According to various media reports, Major League Baseball and Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball have reached a basic agreement on a new posting system. The Japan Times reports the new system will have a maximum posting fee of $20 million. Final details are still being worked out but FOX Sports and MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal says if multiple teams submit the same bid, the player will be allowed to negotiate with all of those teams. Only the signing club would be required to pay the posting fee, which would not count against MLB’s luxury tax. Tanaka’s team, the Rakuten Golden Eagles, opposed the $20 million max posting fee but the other 11 Japanese teams approved it.

During an interview on Comcast SportsNet Chicago Wednesday night, Theo Epstein said the Cubs were looking for “impact” pitching, and Tanaka would fit that. The 25-year-old was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 28 regular season games with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles.

— Carrie Muskat

12/3 Could Cubs bid for Tanaka?

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, the Yankees and Dodgers are expected to be the most aggressive in pursuit of Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka when the posting system is finalized. Major League officials and the Japanese league are ironing out details.

Sherman said executives from two clubs expect the Cubs to be in the mix as well, with one saying they will be “really aggressive.”

Sherman notes that the Cubs have several impact position players (Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora) but not enough pitching.

Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer have been involved in the posting process for Japanese players before. They were with the Red Sox when they gave $51.1 million posting fee to land Daisuke Matsuzaka. If the Yankees, Dodgers, Rangers and Red Sox are in pursuit of Tanaka, it will be expensive.

The posting fees are still to be resolved. According to Sherman, MLB officials have been trying to lower the fees transferred from their teams to Japanese teams as part of the process to gain negotiating rights. The Rangers paid the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters $51.7 million posting fee to get Yu Darvish, then signed him to a six-year, $60 million contract.

MLB has a current proposal that involves a limit of $20 million, Sherman writes.

Why is Tanaka so highly regarded? Tanaka, 25, was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA in 28 regular season games with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles, that’s why.

— Carrie Muskat

11/8 Renteria greets fans

Cubs season ticket holders got a sneak peek at new manager Rick Renteria on Friday. At a presentation in downtown Chicago, an enthusiastic Renteria talked about how excited he was to take over the team.

“I feel we can win with young players,” Renteria said in the video, “because quite frankly the difference between an experienced Major League baseball club with veteran players is simply that [veterans] have the confidence level that’s been born over time and experience. I think what we’re trying to do is advance that confidence level as quickly as we can.”

Theo Epstein said one of the reasons Dale Sveum was dismissed as manager after the season is because the Cubs did not have that environment to develop young players.

“Frankly, that’s an area that I haven’t done a great job at, providing a Major League environment that’s supportive and allows our young players to continue to develop,” Epstein said. “That was really one of the major reasons for the managerial change, and one of the most important things we were looking for in a new manager. We wanted a new manager who had leadership experience and leadership traits. We wanted a new manager who had already impacted players positively at the Major League level, and impacted the Major League team.”

— Carrie Muskat

11/6 Manager update

According to MLB Network’s Peter Gammons, the Cubs will name Rick Renteria the new manager on Thursday. However, a Major League source told Wednesday there was no announcement pending.

The Cubs have spent more than a month interviewing Padres bench coach Rick Renteria, Brad Ausmus, former Mariners and Indians manager Eric Wedge, Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, former Nationals and Indians manager Manny Acta, and former Diamondbacks manager A.J. Hinch.

The Cubs also reportedly wanted to talk to Red Sox bench coach Torey Lovullo.

When Dale Sveum was dismissed on Sept. 30, Epstein said they would prioritize managerial experience in the next manager. Epstein wanted a “dynamic person” who could establish a winning culture after losing more than 90 games two years in a row. The emphasis also would be on a person’s ability to develop young talent. Renteria inherits a young core that includes first baseman Anthony Rizzo, shortstop Starlin Castro, and catcher Welington Castillo, and up and coming prospects in Javier Baez, Kris Bryant, Jorge Soler and Albert Almora.

— Carrie Muskat

11/1 Ausmus meets with Cubs

Theo Epstein said he wanted the next Cubs manager to have some experience at the job but apparently Brad Ausmus may not need that requirement. The Cubs interviewed Ausmus at Wrigley Field on Friday. Ausmus, 44, who interviewed Monday with the Tigers, played 18 seasons, and was currently a special assistant with the Padres. His only managerial experience was with Team Israel in a qualifying tournament for the World Baseball Classic.

Ausmus was a three-time Gold Glove winner and named to the All-Star team in 1999. He was drafted in the 47th round by the Yankees in 1987, but wanted to attend Dartmouth College. The Yankees allowed him to do so while playing in the Minor Leagues. He finished his career in 2010, having played for the Padres, Tigers, Astros and Dodgers, and compiled a career .251 batting average, 80 home runs and 607 RBIs in 18 seasons.

Houston manager Phil Garner once joked that he had to keep playing Ausmus “because if he starts managing, he’ll be better than me.” Ausmus’ response: “Yeah, but if he keeps playing me more, he may end up losing his job anyway.”

Joe Torre also predicted Ausmus would someday manage, and had the catcher take control of the Dodgers for one game at the end of the 2010 season.

“I’m not going to say that I don’t [have that ambition], but I can’t say 100 percent that I do,” Ausmus said after that Dodgers’ game, a 7-5 loss to the Diamondbacks. “I might go home and decide that is where I want to be all the time. I wasn’t even married until after I got to the big leagues, and I haven’t been home with my family for more than three or four months at a time. They may decide they don’t like me.”

He’s also quick with the quip. In 2010, the Sporting News called Ausmus the ninth smartest athlete in sports.

“I feel like when they say I’m one of the smarter ballplayers, it’s just their way of saying I don’t hit very much,” Ausmus responded.

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer hired Ausmus as a special assistant with the Padres in November 2010 when Hoyer was the GM in San Diego. Ausmus is the third person with a Padres connection to be interviewed for the Cubs job. Rick Renteria, 51, who has interviewed with the Mariners and Tigers, is the Padres’ bench coach. A.J. Hinch, 39, is currently involved with player development in the Padres’ front office.

— Carrie Muskat

11/1 Manager update

If Theo Epstein sticks to his schedule, he now has 10 days to name a new Cubs manager. Epstein said he wanted someone in place before the GM meetings, which begin Nov. 11. The Cubs have talked to Rick Renteria, Dave Martinez, Manny Acta and Eric Wedge. On Thursday, Renteria, 51, interviewed for the Tigers job. He’s also talked to the Mariners about their vacancy.

Epstein most likely is waiting for the Red Sox celebration to quiet down before contacting third base coach Torey Lovullo, whom Boston manager John Farrell has endorsed. The Tigers also reportedly want to talk to Lovullo.

The wild card candidate is Brad Ausmus, 44, who interviewed Monday with the Tigers. Ausmus played 18 seasons, and was currently a special assistant with the Padres. Epstein has said he preferred to hire someone with managerial experience, and Ausmus has only managed Team Israel in a qualifying tournament for the World Baseball Classic.

— Carrie Muskat

10/24 Extra bases

* Cubs prospect Christian Villanueva was 2-for-4 with a double, a home run and one RBIs in Yaquis de Obregon’s 8-3 loss to Los Mochis in Mexican Winter League play on Wednesday. It was Villanueva’s second homer of the winter league season.

Second baseman Arismendy Alcantara was 2-for-5 with a double and scored a run in Licey’s 7-4 win over Estrellas in Dominican Winter League play. Alcantara batted .271 this season for Double-A Tennessee.

* Rays bench coach Dave Martinez, who has interviewed for the Cubs’ job, also is a candidate for the Nationals’ managerial vacancy, according to the Tampa Bay Times.

* According to a survey of 26 music insiders by Rolling Stone magazine, Wrigley Field ranked second among rock stadiums and arenas in the U.S. Pearl Jam, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Elton John, The Police, Jimmy Buffett, Rascal Flatts and Kelly Clarkson have all performed at the ballpark. Madison Square Garden in New York ranked No. 1, and Fenway Park was No. 3. The list is part of a “Venues that Rock” series.

* Got a question about the Cubs? The Cubs mailbag is back. Send your questions to, and please include your full name and hometown. Don’t bother sending your resume if inquiring about the vacant manager’s job. I’ll leave that to Theo Epstein & Co.

— Carrie Muskat

10/14 Cubs meet with Renteria; Martinez next

On Monday, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer were in California to meet with Padres coach Rick Renteria about the managerial vacancy, and plan on talking to Rays bench coach Dave Martinez later this week. The Cubs brass has talked to Manny Acta and A.J. Hinch already. Renteria, 51, managed four seasons in the Padres Minor League system before joining the big league staff as a bench coach. He also managed Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. He played parts of five seasons with the Pirates, Mariners and Marlins, and has managed in the Marlins and Padres organizations. Martinez, 49, was drafted by the Cubs in 1983, and made his big league debut in ’86. He played 16 seasons, including four with the Cubs (1986-88, 2000). He’s been part of Joe Maddon’s staff in Tampa since the 2008 season. The Cubs’ search began Sept. 30 when Dale Sveum was dismissed after two seasons as manager. Epstein has said he’d like to have the new manager in place by the GM meetings, which begin Nov. 11.

— Carrie Muskat

10/6 Extra bases

* Several members of the Cubs’ front office, including Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer, will be in Arizona this week to watch some of the young prospects play in the Arizona Fall League and the instructional league games. The AFL begins Tuesday with the Mesa Solar Sox — or “Soler Sox,” as in Jorge Soler — traveling to Glendale to play the Desert Dogs. Cubs prospects playing for Mesa include Soler, Albert Almora, Kris Bryant, Wes Darvill, Matt Loosen, Dallas Beeler, Lendy Castillo and Armando Rivera.

* Arodys Vizcaino, acquired from the Braves in July 2012 in the Paul Maholm trade, has been rehabbing in Mesa, and was scheduled to throw a live batting practice session on Tuesday, then pitch in instructional league games Oct. 15 and Oct. 18. The right-hander will likely see some action in Winter League play as well.

* Mike Olt, acquired from the Rangers in the Matt Garza deal this year, got some extra swings in at the Cubs complex this past week.

* There’s been a lot of progress made at the Cubs’ new Spring Training complex in west Mesa. It’s nice to see the stadium taking shape, palm trees planted and water in the little lake. The Cubs will leave their Fitch Park facility in November.

— Carrie Muskat