Some of the news surrounding our beloved Cubs…
- Theo Epstein made it clear that he wants an actual piece in a trade for Alfonso Soriano. He cited Sori’s 2012 season and his willingness to help young players, making him a valuable clubhouse presence, as the reasons for why he wants an actual player, especially since the Cubs are going to eat a large chunk of the $36M remaining on Soriano’s deal. I don’t mind this approach, because the money for Soriano is already spent, so holding out to get something of value is not a terrible move. Soriano can help young players, his work with helping Starlin Castro become a better professional is of special note in this regard, and a young team can use a good veteran clubhouse player. If Soriano can replicate his season last year with a duplicate this year, he’d actually be worth the $18M he’s getting paid with his leadership and his production. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve defended Soriano for a few years, although I have been in favor of trading him. The guy has struggled with injuries since he got to Chicago, and could have missed far more games than he actually did. And, for what it’s worth, if last year really is the first time he had gotten any outfield instruction, it is partially the fault of the Piniella and Quade regimes for his defensive incompetence. To boil it down, I wouldn’t mind him getting traded, but the Cubs should get more than a bag of balls for him.
- Luis Valbuena agreed to a deal with the Cubs, allowing them to avoid going to a hearing with him. He’s going to get $930K this season, where he figures to be on the bench, but will likely serve as a back-up at 2B, SS, and 3B, all of which he can play competently. As a left handed bat, who took 36 walks in 303 plate appearances, he is the type of versatile player that has some value on a bench, even on a good team. It’s good to see him back, and hopefully be in a role he’s better suited to, after seeing him start a number of games at 3B when Ian Stewart was shut down with a wrist injury. With Valbuena being taken care of, that leaves Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija, and James Russell as the remaining arbitration players this off-season.
- The Cubs signed Brett Lillibridge and Darnell McDonald last week to minor league deals. I have not seen whether or not they’ve gotten invitations to Spring Training, but I would assume, with the team looking for competition and depth among potential players on the roster, that they have. As Spring Training draws closer, I’ll post a complete list of Bunting Tournament participants.
- Cubs Convention is this weekend. I will be there. It is my first opportunity to actually attend, so I am very excited about the chance to be a big kid this weekend. The information put out on the team’s website is here. It looks like it’s going to be a great weekend for fans, and with proceeds going to charity, it benefits a good cause. Classic win-win, so if you haven’t bought tickets and can attend, I would urge any of my few loyal readers and any passing readers to take the opportunity to head out this weekend.