Chicago Cubs Talk: What to Believe and What Is Fantasy
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There are a lot of rumors swirling around the Chicago Cubs, and with good reason. They should be in pure sell-off mode, given their terrible record and the fact that they are in rebuilding mode.
But that doesn't mean that you should believe everything you read or hear.
In fact, some of the rumors qualify as speculation based on unfounded or ignorant gossip that is intended to sell magazines, improve radio or television ratings or to attract reads to a website.
But never fear, Cubs fans. I am here to debunk that crap, and instead focus on what is more likely to happen with the team, from the trading period through their end of the season and beyond.
Albert Almora Won't Sign
This is FALSE. Almora, the Cubs first-round draft pick, will sign with the Cubs, probably just over slot, because he wants to play pro ball. The only team he can play pro ball for over the next year is the Cubs, so they have what can be considered a monopoly of sorts over the kid right now.
Sure, Almora could wait, and go to college and re-enter the draft in a few years. But he doesn't know if he will be picked as high, plus he will lose a year of major league training that could stunt his growth.
If he wants to play professional baseball, and he does, he will receive the best instruction, training and conditioning of his life if he signs with the Cubs. Colleges do a nice job but they can't hold a candle to what a major league team can do for a kid.
Anyway, it's the freakin' Chicago Cubs! What kid wouldn't want to play for such a rabid fanbase in one of the greatest cities in the world?
He will continue to play coy until the bitter end, trying to draw out every last dollar that he can and that's alright with me. I'm all for the kid getting whatever he can. But in the end, he will sign.
Theo Epstein Is Overrated
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This is only partly TRUE but mainly FALSE. What is true is that he is not some savior that is going to be able to single-handily break the curse and put the Cubs into a World Series quickly. But he has brought in excellent people who will improve the farm system and eventually get the Cubs to become a consistent winner.
So if you think he's the greatest GM ever (or even the best in the business right now), then yes, he is probably overrated. But if you are reasonable and consider the strengths he does bring to an organization, then you realize he is very good at his job and is capable of success.
It is true that Epstein inherited a 90-win ballclub when he took over in Boston. And that some of the players who he won a title with, or traded to obtain talent that helped him win, weren't brought in by Theo.
And yes, he did not do well signing free agents, especially toward the end of his run with the Red Sox.
Epstein signed such notable free-agent flops as John Lackey, Bobby Jenks, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Carl Crawford.
Still, he deserves credit for bringing in talent like David Ortiz and Curt Schilling and for drafting players like Dustin Pedroia, Jonathan Papelbon and Jacoby Ellsbury. He won two World Series titles during his tenure with Boston.
So while he has his flaws, to label him overrated depends on your definition and expectation. If you're expecting miracles and perfection then yes. But if you are expecting a good leader who will draft well and bring in smart baseball people around him, then he is every bit as good as advertised.
It all depends on your perspective.
Ryan Dempster Will Be Traded
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This is TRUE, once he comes off the disabled list. I think the Cubs may have originally gave the impression that they want to re-sign Dempster to drive up his price. If the Cubs were to say they didn't want him back, other teams would think they were desperate to dump Demp.
The Cubs will not get a team's No. 1 prospect in any deal. Also, the Cubs will likely have to toss in some money to cover part of Dempster's remaining salary.
Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun-Times believes it may happen quickly, assuming Dempster is healthy. I believe the Cubs will be able to get a serviceable future major league player or two in return.
But since he's 35 years old and would only be a rental, teams won't mortgage the farm for him. Nor should they. But the return is better than letting him walk away as a free agent following the season, with nothing to show for it.
Josh Vitters Is the 3rd Baseman of the Future
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This is FALSE. While Vitters is having somewhat of a career rebirth right now, he is still shaky at third base defensively and still doesn't draw walks. And we all know that OBP is one of the hallmarks of the Theo Epstein-led Cubs revolution.
When first drafted, Vitters had such a sweet swing that he was projected for stardom. But as recently as last year, he was almost certainly going to be a bust, and if he ever saw the major leagues, it wouldn't be as a starter.
He still has that sweet swing and now I think he could possibly make it, though it won't be at third base and it may not be with the Cubs.
He could turn out to be an average major league regular with a little luck, but it may be at first base if his power holds up. But I doubt he will ever be more than average and I also doubt he sticks with the Cubs.
Starlin Castro Will Have to Move to a New Position
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This is FALSE. Castro probably won't ever "have to" be moved to another position, such as second or third base, though it is possible that it could happen if the Cubs have a better shortstop in the system that is ready to take over.
But his defense, while shaky in terms of errors, is still pretty good in terms of range and he is very good at going back on pop-ups. He has a strong arm and hopefully the errors will decrease as he matures.
Plus, he doens't have the power to be a regular third baseman. And, if he can't make good throws from shortstop, he will probably have difficulty throwing from third base as well.
I don't think Junior Lake is a great prospect but even if he surprises me, he will not move Castro off of shortstop. And Javier Baez will likely be too big to play short in the majors.
However, if the Cubs find that Castro's defense doesn't improve or that they have to make room for another prospect, maybe they will consider moving him to second. If he develops power later on as he fills out, then perhaps he could be a candidate for third.
But I think he sticks at short for the immediate future and will not "have to" be moved.
Everyone Except Castro and Rizzo Are Tradeable
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This is TRUE. Now, that doesn't mean that certain players are likely to be traded, it just means that, according to this report, the Cubs will be open to listening to any deal for any player except for Castro, Anthony Rizzo and Jeff Samardzija.
Players like Matt Garza and even David DeJesus will only be traded if the Cubs can get some good prospects in return. Remember, it takes two to tango so it is unlikely that the Cubs will trade everyone if they wanted to.
But at this point, the Cubs need to be open to improving their club and expediting the rebuild process.
As Paul Maholm continues to pitch well, his reward may be a ticket out of town. And the Cubs must be hoping that if Carlos Marmol continues to save games and finds the strike zone, that he can be moved as well. The same goes for Alfonso Soriano, who is playing well this season, so it is not impossible that some team could actually want him.
The Cubs won't contend next season, so veterans need not apply.
Ed Lynch Is Still on the Payroll
This is obviously meant to be a joke. So it is obviously FALSE. He was hired by the Toronto Blue Jays in December of 2009.
However, it was pretty comical that Lynch remained on the Cubs payroll for as long as he did. He was a terrible GM, and even as a scout, you never heard of any success by him.
He covered the Arizona territory and watched a lot of Diamondbacks games, yet the scouting report in the playoffs vs. Arizona wasn't very good for the Cubs.
But hey, Crane Kenney is still around, so that should be good for a few laughs.