The World Series between the Texas Rangers and San Francisco Giants will conclude at some point, signaling the beginning of the off-season for all 30 teams in baseball. However, beginning this Tuesday November 2nd, the Chicago Cubs will be focusing on the off-season and preparations for the 2011 season. As, they are holding their organizational meetings this week November 2nd through November 5th. Among the many things to be discussed are Mike Quade’s bench coach, and the payroll/free agent targets.
Bench Coach:Ever since the Chicago Cubs told Alan Trammell that he would not be considered for the managerial opening, there has been the belief that Trammell would not be back on the Cubs coaching staff for the 2011 season. That belief proved to be correct, as he went to Arizona to be the bench coach for his former teammate Kirk Gibson.
The Chicago Cubs are expected to fill their Bench Coach vacancy this week, and yet, there is no clear favorite. It was widely speculated that former Iowa Cubs manager Pat Listach would come back to the Cubs and become their Bench Coach. But, in recent days we have learned that Nationals Manager Jim Riggleman would like to have Listach back on his staff. However, there still is the chance that Listach nixes the Nationals and comes to the Cubs.
There has been the rumor of Ryne Sandberg possibly becoming the Chicago Cubs Bench Coach. But, as I have said many times before, it would make no sense for the Chicago Cubs to do such a foolish move. They would be putting Mike Quade in a bad position, as he would have to be constantly looking over his back at Sandberg if the Cubs get off to a bad start. The Chicago Cubs have already informed Sandberg, that he is not a candidate to be the Bench Coach.
That potentially leaves former Cub Gary Varsho as the top candidate to become the next bench coach. Bruce Levine reported on Saturday during his radio show “Talkin Baseball”, that Varsho and former Mariners Manager Don Wakamatsu are the only candidates that he has heard for the Cubs bench coach vacancy. In recent days, reports have surfaced that Wakamatsuis in line to be the next Orioles Bench Coach if he does not get a managerial job with another team.
Payroll/Free Agent Targets:Another prominent issue that will likely be discussed at the Organizational is the team’s payroll going into the 2011 season, and how much Jim Hendryhas available to spend on Free Agents. Chicago Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts that he anticipates the Chicago Cubs Major League Payroll decreasing from the approximate $144MM they started this season at.
Despite the news of a potential decreased in payroll, Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry seems fixated on making at least one big splash via free agency. In recent weeks, the Chicago Cubs have extensively been linked to Adam Dunn, to the point where it was reported the Cubs are preparing a 3 year/$40MM offer for Dunn once he hits free agency. If it is not Adam Dunn, the Chicago Cubs were also linked to Jayson Werth according to a report out of Comcast Sportsnet Philadelphia. So far, Werthis expected to receive a multi-year contract worth around $16MM.
While the Chicago Cubs top priority appears to be once again finding a run producer, they also figure to add a starting pitcher at some point during the season. Some might argue, like myself, that this should be a bigger priority than finding another power hitting bat. The Chicago Cubs really have not been linked to any free agent starting pitcher, except for a report out of Colorado a month ago, that said the Cubs are expressing interest in free agent-to be Jorge De La Rosa. However, he may be out of the Cubs price range, logical options that the Cubs may express interest in are Javier Vazquez, Bronson Arroyo, John Garland, and potentially Chris Young.
You have got to question Jim Hendry’s thinking this off-season. Because by spending a lot of money on either Adam Dunn, or Jayson Werth he is essentially is left with nothing to get a starting pitcher. A better option in my opinion, is sign a guy like Adam LaRoche or Aubrey Huff andthen spend the money to get a bona-fide starting pitcher. Among the top free agent pitchers are Cliff Lee, Carl Pavano, and Jorge De La Rosa.
This week will determine a lot of things for the Chicago Cubs future, especially whether or not they will be contenders in the 2011 season.