While Major League Baseball’s regular season is the focal point for anyone involved in the baseball industry, there is no question that the best time of the year for any baseball writer is the off-season. Reason being there is no better soap opera than the circus that is the off-season for Major League Baseball. With the various rumors, trades, free agents signings and managerial changes; that is enough to make any baseball follower’s head spin. The Cubs have one week left before they turn their attention to the off-season, which will begin when Cubs’ manager Dale Sveum meets with Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer.
Sveum told reporters that he plans to meet with Epstein and Hoyer on October 4th. During this meeting, it will be decided what players figure to be in the plan for the 2013 season.
“You have a good idea,” he said. “Now whatever we do in the winter is a different story of where we’re going to fill holes or that kind of thing. But you definitely have a good idea of the character of people, the ‘pitchability’ — making pitches and being able to repeat (deliveries). ‘Does this guy need to develop, or does he have a chance of making our team?’ We’ve seen enough of everybody for that.” Chicago Tribune
Some of those player decisions may have already been made over the course of the past two months. Third baseman Josh Vitters clearly needs more time to develop, and will begin the season with the Iowa Cubs.Meanwhile, outfielders Brett Jackson and Dave Sappelt will likely have the inside track to earning a roster spot on the Cubs next season. Starting pitcher Travis Wood has established consistent stability as part of the Cubs’ rotation this season, he may have to compete, but Wood should be in a line for a rotation spot for the 2013 season. Chris Volstad has pitched well of late, though, he should not be penciled into the rotation just yet.
Also during this meeting, I would expect that the Cubs highlight the positions that they would like to improve over the off-season. Injured third baseman Ian Stewart will undoubtedly be non-tendered this winter, and the Cubs should be in the market for a third baseman to hold them over until Vitters is ready to produce at the Major League level. With only two known starting pitchers in the starting rotation for next season in Jeff Samardzija and Matt Garza, expect the team to target one or two free agent starting pitchers that are of the Paul Maholm variety.
Speaking of starting pitchers, don’t forget about Arodys Vizcaino, Vizcaino was the main piece that the Cubs acquired in a trade with the Atlanta Braves that sent Maholm and Reed Johnson to Atlanta. Vizcaino is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but is expected to be ready for Spring Training. The suggestion has been made that the Cubs could use Vizcaino as a reliever, however, the current plan is for him to be a starting pitcher. Though, Vizcaino’s talent likely will not be on full display until 2014 as the Cubs plan to limit the young pitcher next season.
“I’m sure his innings will be whatever next year — 100? I don’t know the exact number we’re going to end up with, but it’s not going to be a full, blowout scale with him,” Sveum said “He’s so young (21), you’re going to baby that situation as much as you can and get him really, really ready for (2014).” Chicago Tribune
Vizcaino is going to be a quality pitcher, but as Sveum indicated, at the age of 21,there is no need to put unnecessary wear and tear on Vizcaino’s shoulder and elbow.