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Tuesday April 30th, 2013
By Bernie Olshansky (MLB Reports Writer): Follow @BernieOlshansky
Over the past few years, Chicago Cubs fans have not had a lot to cheer about. Anthony Rizzo is starting to break this trend. Rizzo was acquired by the Cubs from the San Diego Padres in early 2012.
Rizzo is exactly what the Cubs need in a power-hitting first baseman, and should hold down the position in the years to come. Andrew Cashner was a prized prospect at the time of the trade, but the Cubs evidently thought Rizzo was more talented and held more value.
The Padres wound up with Yonder Alonso to man First Base, so they did not lose a significant amount in the trade.
Anthony Rizzo Highlights and the song “Go Cubs Go”
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By Alex Kantecki (Cubs Correspondent): Follow @rotodealer
I remember the grumbles and the echoes of “You’ve got to be kidding me” and “Jim Hendry did what now?” from Cubs fans when the team signed a 21-year old football star to a five-year, $10 million contract back in 2007.
I remember because I was one of the grumblers.
In 2006, the Cubs selected Jeff Samardzija – a wide receiver from Notre Dame – in the fifth round (149th overall) of the Amateur Baseball Draft, not knowing whether the All-American football player with a 97 MPH fastball would forfeit a clear path to the NFL for a hit-or-miss career in baseball.
Jeff Samardzija Tribute: Mature Lyrics so Parental Guidance is advised:
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Saturday, Mar.02, 2013
By Alex Kantecki (Cubs Correspondent): Follow @akantecki
Only the Houston Astros stood between the Chicago Cubs and last place in the NL Central in 2012. The Cubs lost 101 games – their most losses since 1966, when the team went 51-103 — and finished with the second worst record in baseball. Under President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, the Cubs went backwards from the year before, losing 10 more games than in 2011.
Epstein continues to rebuild the Cubs’ farm system, and the organization boasts four top prospects – Shortstop Javier Baez, Outfielder Albert Almora, Outfielder Jorge Soler and Relief Pitcher Arodys Vizcaino — all of whom are represented in the Top 100 Prospects of Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus. Over the winter, the Cubs bolstered their Starting Pitching staff, adding Starters Edwin Jackson, Scott Feldman, Scott Baker and Carlos Villanueva.
Chicago Cubs 2012 Highlights: Mature Lyrics so Parental Guidance is advised:
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Thursday, February.14, 2013
By Alex Kantecki (Cubs Correspondent): Follow @Akantecki
One winter ago, Chicago Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer acquired First Baseman Anthony Rizzo from the San Diego Padres in exchange for hard-throwing Right-Hander Andrew Cashner, one of the Cubs’ top pitching prospects at the time.
But this wasn’t Epstein’s and Hoyer’s first go-around with the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder, who – along with Cubs Senior Vice President of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod – drafted Rizzo while serving as Boston’s GM and Assistant GM, respectively, in 2007. The threesome reunited four years later and brought the 23-Year Old star-in-the-making over to the North Side:
“We believe Anthony has the potential to be a middle-of-the-order run producer for the Cubs for a very long time,” Hoyer said (link here). “He still has some development left. We feel what he’s done at age 20 at Double-A and Age 21 at Triple-A was remarkable.”
Anthony Rizzo Highlights From 2012: Mature Lyrics so Parental Guidance is advised:
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Friday, January.18, 2013
Alex Kantecki (Guest Baseball Writer and Cubs Correspondent): Follow @Akantecki
Matt Garza was Jim Hendry’s last big addition before the Cubs general manager got the boot in 2011. The Cubs needed a dependable No. 3 to slot in the rotation behind Cubs’ mainstays Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano, and Garza fit the bill. In three years with Tampa Bay, Garza compiled a 34-31 record with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP with 7.10 K/9 and 3.05 BB/9 in 592.1 Innings Pitched — not ace numbers by any stretch of the imagination, but respectable for a No. 2/No. 3 type.
Garza, 29, was an innings-eater, with two straight seasons of 200-plus innings from 2009-2010. To acquire Garza, the Cubs sent five prospects, including No. 1 prospect Chris Archer and No. 4 prospect Hak-Ju Lee to Tampa Bay. The move, considered by many as a desperation trade by a general manager looking to save his job, is still scrutinized today. But should it be?
Matt Garza Highlight: Worst Throw Ever to 1st Base?
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Sunday, January.06, 2013
Alfonso Soriano: Misunderstood, Good, But Never A Fit
Alex Kantecki (Guest Baseball Writer and Cubs Correspondent): Follow @Akantecki
It’s no secret Alfonso Soriano isn’t the most liked player among Cubs fans. Following the 2006 season when then general manager Jim Hendry signed the Outfielder to the largest contract in team history ($136 Million over eight years), fans dreaming of a World Series title pinned their hopes on the unconventional Leadoff hitter that hit 46 HR and stole 41 bases with the Washington Nationals the year before. Soriano did his part and helped lead the Cubs to two straight National League Central titles in 2007 and 2008, but the Cubs were swept away in the Division Series both years. Like his teammates, Soriano struggled to do much of anything in the postseason, collecting three hits in 29 Plate Appearances and failing to score or drive in a single run in six games.
Alfonso Soriano 2012 Highlights – Parental Guidance Is Advised
Thursday December 13th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky (Baseball Writer): Follow @bernieolshansky
Needless to say, it has been a dismal last few years for the Chicago Cubs. The last time they made the playoffs, it was 2008 and they were swept in the NLDS. They have not won a World Series since 1908 and do not look like they will be ending that drought anytime soon. The Cubs had a horrible 2012 in which they went 61-101. The record basically tells the story. The Cubs ended up trading Ryan Dempster, a fixture in the Cubs’ pitching staff for the past decade converting from a closer to a starter mid-tenure. In this feature, I will cover what’s ahead for this storied franchise.
For 2013, the Cubs really have not made any improvements. So far, their big offseason signing has been Nate Schierholtz, who was traded from the Giants to the Phillies as part of a package for Hunter Pence. Schierholtz will be joined in the outfield by Brett Jackson, a highly regarded prospect, and Alfonso Soriano. This outfield is not exactly a marquee group, but it will get the job done. Soriano should continue to provide some pop as he has hit 82 HRs in the past three years combined, and Brett Jackson should get on base and drive in runs with his gap-to-gap power. Schierholtz will fit right in with the rest of the lineup. Read the rest of this entry
ATR: Ask the Reports Answers Your Baseball Questions: Realignment, Ross to the Red Sox, Izturis to the Jays, Breaking Up the Rays and Remembering Matt Garza
Monday November 12th, 2012
Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to email@example.com, message us on Twitter, post on our Facebook Wall and leave comments on our website! There are many ways to reach us and we will get to your questions from all social media outlets!
Jonathan Hacohen: I will admit that this is a great time of year. I love speculating on free agency signing and the trades that are coming up. But I am getting to the point that there are three words that I no longer feel like speaking: Hamilton, Greinke and Upton. You know exactly who I am talking about. The most popular catches on the market: free agents Josh Hamilton, Zack Greinke and B.J. Upton (with his brother Justin Upton apparently available on the trade market). My flavor is lesser lights, like Mike Napoli, Joakim Soria, Hiroki Kuroda, Ryan Madson and so forth. I really think that someone will get a steal in Mike Napoli. I also think that someone will be very frustrated with Edwin Jackson. And if a team gives Anibal Sanchez anything close to the reported $90+ million that he is seeking- get ready for a Vernon Wells contract disaster to appear.
With all the talk of free agency and hot stove, remember that the WBC qualifiers are still being played. Groups 3 and 4 are set to do battle, starting in 4 short days. Panama and Taiwan are the lucky venues that will be hosting these upcoming classic games. My picks to qualify for the 2013 World Baseball Classic? Panama in Group 3 and Thailand in Group 4. A very balanced group of countries that will be competing and in a short series, anything can happen. I like the addition of Johnny Damon to the Thailand squad, I really think that he will be a difference maker. Those are my two cents at least.
So enough talking- more asking! It’s time for Ask the Reports.
Now let’s get to your top questions of the week: Read the rest of this entry
Wednesday October 3rd, 2012
Sam Evans: With the 2012 season winding down, a lot of MLB teams can’t wait for the season to end. Houston, Chicago, Colorado, Minnesota, and Cleveland have been the five worst teams in baseball this season. While their seasons have all been disappointing and hard to watch, these teams will possess the most valuable picks in the 2013 Amateur draft. Here’s a look at how these teams have struggled and where they are projected to pick in the draft.
5. Cleveland Indians 68-93:
Baseball in Cleveland took a huge step back in 2012. Coming off of an 80-82 season, Cleveland was let down by an underperforming pitching staff. With Detroit and Chicago leading the AL Central, Cleveland was out of the pennant race for the better part of the year. The stretch that did them in was the month of August, in which Cleveland was 5-24.
Ubaldo Jimenez was one of the best starting pitchers in baseball just two years ago. Now, the Indians will be lucky if they can manage to get the performances of a #4 starter out of him. There have been many areas in which he has been less dominant than before but they all trace back to that his previous velocity and nasty stuff just aren’t there anymore. Perhaps the problems with Ubaldo have to do with his age and the toll that throwing so many innings when he was younger took. Either way, by relying on Ubaldo Jimenez and his 5.40 ERA this season, the Indians weren’t putting themselves in a better place to contend. Read the rest of this entry
Friday September 7th, 2012
Bernie Olshansky: The Red Sox are in a state of disrepair. They just traded two of the key players who were supposed to carry them to several postseasons in the future, and a pitcher who had the stuff to regain his status as the ace of the staff. Not to mention the team also has a manager who does not relate well to players. The Red Sox went from first to worst in the span of about a year. Why?
It all started going wrong in September of last year. The Red Sox started a skid and then information came out that some of the pitchers were drinking beer and eating fried chicken in the clubhouse during games in which they were not pitching during the pennant chase. The Red Sox had a horrible month and ended up falling out of playoff contention as the Orioles walked off on them in game 162 and Evan Longoria subsequently hit a walk off homer versus the Yankees to clinch a playoff spot for the Rays. Terry Francona, the manager who broke the Curse of the Bambino and won two World Series, was fired and general manager Theo Epstein was rumored to be leaving. Owners John Henry, Tom Werner, and Larry Lucchino promised that a collapse like this would not happen the next year. The good news: Red Sox fans will not have to worry about a collapse like last years’ now. The bad news: the Red Sox have been out of contention for almost the whole year. Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto have been traded, and it looks like Boston will be rebuilding for at least the next couple of years. Chaos in Boston is an understatement.
Monday August 27th, 2012
Robert Whitmer: $250,000,000 is a lot of money. I know for a fact that it is more than I will ever see in my life from all my years of working combined. It is more than 18 countries in the world have in annual gross national product. It is enough money to buy the most expensive house in the world except 2 and still be able to afford the most expensive car in the world. Before we explore what the significance of that $250,000,000, let’s back up to how we came about this situation to even be discussing this obscene amount of money. There was this time in 2004 when something happened that hadn’t happened in 86 years, but three years later in 2007 it happened again. After 2007 and having an even happen twice in three years without it happening in the previous 86, the powers that be wanted to insure that it would continue to happen. To ensure this, the Boston Red Sox decided that they would attempt to buy their way to a championship like the division rival Yankees have done in the past. So the spending spree began, and if there is one thing in the world that is universal and never lies it is numbers. Let’s cover them.
2008 started the decline of the Red Sox team. They made the playoffs in 2008 but lost to the Rays in the ALCS. In 2009 they lost in the first round to the Angels. Here is how I can imagine the conversation going between Theo Epstein the GM and John Henry the Owner of the Sox.
John: So uh, Theo, what happened out there this year?
Theo: I don’t know… we had a good team, I think the injuries got us.
John: Well why don’t we spend money like the Yankees. It seems to be working for them since they just won the World Series. Read the rest of this entry
Tuesday August 21st, 2012
Jake Dal Porto: Starlin Castro is one of baseball’s best young shortstops at the ripe age of just 22 years-old. Apparently, the Cubs’ front office feels the same way. While the speculated contract extension is still impending, there’s a good chance that Castro remain a Cub for a good portion of the next decade. A wealthy Cub for that matter. The rumored deal is said to be a seven-year, $60 million contract extension. Should the deal be completed, it will take him through arbitration.
Is general manager Theo Epstein and his staff pulling the right string by signing Castro? Read the rest of this entry
Tuesday May 8, 2012
Ryan Ritchey: The Boston Red Sox since last September have been a team that has been falling apart. Ever since the report that pitchers were drinking in the clubhouse (and eating fried chicken), the team hasn’t been the same. After the season, Theo Epstein decided not to bring back Terry Francona… and then left the Red Sox himself. With this being said, the Sox had several holes to fill. First the general manager. This hole was filled by none other than Ben Cherington. Cherington had a lot of pressure placed on him to perform and to win. His first big job was to hire a manager to get the job done. He went and got Bobby Valentine. Bobby Valentine in my opinion was not a good hire for the Red Sox and judging by the Red Sox current record, most would agree.
You can put the blame on many people for the Red Sox woes this early in the season. Not only is it the fault of the manager, but it also goes on the players as they are the ones that play the game. Dustin Pedroia is one of the hardest working players in the league and doesn’t take a day off so it can’t fall on his shoulders (or Big Papi’s). But many of the Red Sox hitters need to be accountable. Mostly though, you could blame the pitching. In my opinion it is the pitching that is causing this down fall for Boston.
Josh Beckett has the best ERA from any starter in the rotation and he is 30th in the American League with a 4.45 ERA. With that number alone, you aren’t going to win many games. The Red Sox have a great offense but giving up that many runs per start you aren’t going to get many wins. Even when the starters throw a decent game, the bullpen usually ends up giving up runs on many nights and losing the game. If the Red Sox are going to do anything this season, Cherington better go find some pitching or it is going to be a long season for Red Sox Nation.
Another big reason the Red Sox are playing like they are is Adrian Gonzalez. Epstein went out and got Gonzalez from San Diego thinking he would be the best hitter in the American League. He was that player for one season but that is no longer the case. We are a little over a month into the season and Gonzalez only has 2 home runs and 16 RBI. For a power guy like Gonzalez, those numbers are subpar to say the least. His power numbers are down and he hasn’t been showing up in big games against the Rays and Yankees as he did last year. Not only are his power numbers down, his average is a “whopping” .270. Read the rest of this entry
Sunday April 1st, 2012
Jonathan Hacohen: Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, message us on Twitter and post on our Facebook Wall!
Let’s get to your top questions of the week:
Q: My question this week in about a prospect in the Diamondbacks system. Was reading an article about Trevor Bauer and his 10 different pitches along with his unique training program. What I want to know is how MLB Reports see his future. Will he be a number one starter on their staff one day and where will he end up when he retires? Larry
MLB reports: First question this week goes to our #1 fan, Larry! Happy April Fool’s Day by the way! No tricks today from us. Just baseball talk! Watching this kid pitch, it is hard not to get excited about him. Trevor Bauer comes with a lot of hype as a top-3 pick from last year’s MLB draft. He will definitely see time in Arizona this year, with a full rotation spot in 2012 possibly happening. Will Bauer be a #1 starter? Will he retire as a Dback? Very difficult questions, because of the complexity of the circumstances. Injuries. Performance. Financial expectations. So much goes into the equation. But if you are asking me to check the crystal ball (which I think you are), here is what I see: Yes, Bauer will become a #1 starter one day. We love his mechanics too much for him not to develop. As long as he stays healthy, works hard and keeps his nose clean. Which we all hope he does! But I cannot see him retiring as a Dback. In this day and age, it is very rare for a player to stay on the same team for his whole career. The law of baseball probability says that if Bauer becomes a stud, he will go one day to a major contender, like the Yankees or Red Sox. Even if for some reason Bauer does play the majority of his career in Arizona, he will at some point make a team change. Maybe his skills will diminish. Or a conflict with the manager. The bottom line, he will be in Arizona for the next 5+ years likely at least. So let’s enjoy his time there for now. Thanks for writing! Read the rest of this entry
Tuesday February 14th, 2012
Bryan Sheehan (MLB Reports Intern): I was going to write a long lede, comparing Valentine’s Day and people’s love for baseball in the cheesiest way possible, but seeing as how this isn’t the movie Fever Pitch, I’ll save it. What I am going to do, though, is talk about a city that is in love with a baseball team that hasn’t done much but disappoint for the last hundred years or so. Read the rest of this entry
Tuesday October 18, 2011
MLB reports – Sam Evans: Before we even begin to speculate on who will be the next Cubs manager, there is something baseball fans have to realize. The most important move made by the Cubs this offseason will be naming their General Manager. It looks like Theo Epstein will be taking over duties as the GM, if everything goes according as planned. One of Theo’s first moves will be to decide whether to keep Mike Quade and his coaching staff for next year. I think there is little to no chance that this happens considering the Cubs on-field product from the last year. My guess is that Epstein would be looking for a very intelligent manager that is behind the recent sabermetrical discoveries but at the same time, has a lot of experience in the game of baseball. Someone similar to Joe Maddon of the Rays.
One of the top managerial candidates for the Cubs position, and for other open coaching spots around the league, is Hall of Fame Second Basemen Ryne Sandberg. Sandberg was born in 1959 in Spokane,WA. He was drafted in the 20th round of the 1978 Rule 4 MLB draft by the Philadelphia Phillies, and he shot through the minors and made his major league debut in 1981. After the 1981 season, Sandberg was shipped along with Larry Bowa to the Cubs for shortstop Ivan DeJesus. This turned out to be one of the best trades in the history of the Chicago Cubs organization. The Phillies made this trade due to a middle infield logjam, and it will forever haunt Phillies fans.
In his career, Ryne Sandberg hit .285 with 282 home runs and 344 stolen bases. From 1989 to 1992, Sandberg hit 122 home runs. He was MVP in 1984, he was named to ten all-star teams and was a nine-time gold glove award recipient. Cubs fans will remember ”Ryno” for his amazing defensive plays and his ability to hit home runs. Sandberg was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005.
Once the 2006 season had come to a close, Ryne Sandberg met with Cubs GM Jim Hendry and told him that he was wanted to manage the team. Smartly, Hendry decided that Sandberg needed experience managing so he gave him a job managing way down the Cubs depth charts. In 2007, Sandberg began his managing career with the Class-A Peoria Chiefs, and he led the Chiefs to 71-68 finish. With the Chiefs again in 2008, the Chiefs went 60-78. In 2009, the Sandberg was promoted to manager of the Cubs AA team, where in one year he went 71-69. In 2010, he was the Cubs AAA manager and he finished 82-62, and earned the honor of being named Pacific Coast League Manager of the Year. As you may remember, in 2010 Lou Piniella stepped down from his position as interim Cubs manager. Mike Quade was the interim manager and he led the team to a 24-13 record for the rest of the season. However, after the season, the Cubs organization didn’t make it clear that Quade was their man until October 19. Most baseball people thought that Ryne Sandberg would be named manager and that he deserved to be the Cubs manager. The Cubs decided to remove the interim tag from Quade’s position and promote him to the full-time manager. Unfortunately, Quade and the Cubs had a rough year, finishing 2011 with a 71-91 record.
I almost feel sorry for Sandberg. He worked so hard managing in the minors and when his opportunity finally arose when Piniella retired, Jim Hendry turned him down. I definitely think he deserves a chance at managing the Cubs. He not only has playing experience but successful managing experience in the minors.
After an awkward offseason for Sandberg, he took up an offer to manage the Philadelphia Phillies Triple-A team, the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. He was also, according to sources, offered by Theo Epstein to be the manager for the Pawtucket Red Sox. Despite a very minor league baseball-esque name, the Iron Pigs are actually considered to be in the upper echelon of the minors. They average a higher attendance (over 10,000 per game) than any other MiLB team. Ryne Sandberg put together another winning season leading the Iron Pigs to an 80-64 record. His career managerial record is 364-341, which is good for a .556 winning percentage.
Who knows what the Cubs relationship is like with Sandberg? Their relationship appeared to be very stalwart but after the Cubs denied Sandberg the chance to manage at the major league level last year, you have to wonder why they would want him this year. Even if Theo Epstein does end up getting the job, just because he wanted Sandberg to manage the PawSox, there is no guarantee that he would want to work with Sandberg at the major league level.
The X-factor in this situation is Terry Francona. Epstein and Francona got along beautifully in Boston, and maybe Theo wants to keep Terry as his manager. This would not surprise me because the two are so comfortable with each other, and they have proven that their methods work with two World Series rings. Although their relations were apparently strained at times, the bottom line is that they were able to get the job done together.
There is one thing that I am sure of from this Sandberg debacle. Ryan Sandberg will have a major-league coaching job come April. The Phillies might have an assistant coaching position open, or the Red Sox could be interested in Sandberg as their manager. Options will be available to him. The most likely option is that Sandberg will return to where he already spent fifteen years of his baesball life: Wrigley Field.
Today’s feature was prepared by our Intern, Sam Evans. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Sam on Twitter.
Please e-mail us at: MLBreports@gmail.com with any questions and feedback. You can follow us on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook . To subscribe to our website and have the daily Reports sent directly to your inbox , click here and follow the link at the top of our homepage.
Rob Bland (Baseball Writer – MLB reports): On October 12, 2011, Theo Epstein, former GM of the Boston Red Sox agreed to a 5 year deal worth more than $15M. With the Chicago Cubs. This all comes as no real surprise to anyone, as it had been speculated since the Cubs fired GM Jim Hendry in August that Epstein was their top target. The real surprise is that Epstein and the Boston Red Sox’s falling out happened so swiftly. Within two weeks of the Red Sox collapse, which has been widely discussed by everyone in baseball circles, manager Terry Francona and the team parted ways, as well as, now, their general manager Theo Epstein.
It has been well-documented that Epstein was able to overcome the “Curse of the Bambino” by employing a bunch of “idiots” in the locker room that went on to win a World Series in 2004. This mentality has been a similar mantra of the Red Sox throughout his tenure. Because they won in 2004, and also in 2007, it was completely acceptable for players to do what they pleased in the locker room. Now that the epic collapse took place, the organization needed a change, and true accountability never took place for the Red Sox.
Epstein is a GM of great stature. He is trusted and many people believe in his abilities. He employs a “Moneyball” type strategy, which is also aided by having a large payroll, something he will also have the ability to create in Chicago. Ownership of the Cubs have not been afraid to spend money, and most of the time have put themselves in unfortunate situations.
Two contracts come to mind when I think of the Cubs. Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Zambrano. Prior to the 2007 season, Soriano inked a contract worth $136M over 8 years. In 2007, Zambrano signed an extension for the 2008-2012 seasons, with a vesting option for 2013 worth $91.5M. Epstein has a lot of work cut out for him with an aging, mediocre core, but finding a suitor for these two players, or finding a way for them to produce and not be distractions in the clubhouse is paramount.
Another major task for him is to figure out what he wants to do with incumbent manager, Mike Quade. Quade was hired as the Cubs’ interim manager on August 22, 2010, and in October, the interim title was stripped. Quade led the Cubs to a 71-91 record and a 5th place finish in the NL Central, only ahead of the lowly Houston Astros. This record was tied for the 5th worst in all of baseball. When Quade was hired, much to the dismay of Cubs fans, who wanted Ryne Sandberg to take the helm, he was highly regarded as a smart, methodical baseball thinker. Was the year and month enough of a trial, or will Epstein want to bring in his own talent to manage this struggling franchise?
Epstein will also consider bringing in his own front office, using members from his group with the Red Sox. With news breaking that Senior Vice President and Assistant General Manager Ben Cherington will take over as GM in Boston, Epstein will be fighting to bring his favorite guys over with him.
The last thing holding up this deal is compensation for the Red Sox. Since Epstein had one year remaining on his contract with Boston, the Cubs had to ask permission to even speak with him. Epstein had made it known to the organization that he would be leaving after 2012, so the Red Sox allowed talks to run smoothly, as they would have owed him $3M for the season, and a contract bonus of $4M. Cash and/or prospects will easily get the job done.
The deal has not yet been completed due to some of these complications, but should be done by the beginning of next week. Epstein will have a major challenge in Chicago, as they are not even close to competing. Major decisions need to be made, and even with his high level of competency, it will take up to five years for the Cubs to be a major contender in the NL Central.
***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Rob Bland. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Rob on Twitter.***
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