The Chicago Cubs brain-trust have yet to set up camp in Milwaukee for this week’s general manager meetings, but President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein, General Manager Jed Hoyer, and Vice President of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod will be on hand for the start of the meetings tomorrow. Even though the Cubs’ front office team was not among the early arrivals at the meetings today, that does not mean that they weren’t among the topics discussed in the lobby of the hotel. Meanwhile, back in Chicago, the Cubs President of Baseball Operations had a discussion of his own with Barry Praver, Carlos Zambrano‘s agent, and Zambrano himself. Though, what was discussed during that power lunch between Epstein, Zambrano, and Praver was kept between the three. However, the expectation remains that Zambrano will not be a member of the Cubs’ organization by the time the 2012 season starts.
Zambrano is likely going to be one player that is going to be discussed at this week’s general manager meetings, and as the Cubs have already found out, the temperamental starting pitcher will not be the only one. Folks, the Hot Stove season has begun.
- ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that the Cubs are among eight teams that are interested in former Cleveland Indians’ outfielder Grady Sizemore. I mentioned Sizemore as a possible target for Epstein and company last month, and it would appear that the Cubs may view Sizemore as their next right fielder. The knock on Sizemore, of course, is that the outfielder has only played in a total of 104 games in the past two seasons. Though, when Sizemore is healthy, he is one of the game’s most dynamic players. Sizemore possess gold glove talent in the outfield, and also is capable of being a dual offensive threat when you combine his power with his speed. Though, the same caveat applies; when he is healthy. Initial reports suggest that Sizemore could command a contract that is worth north of $9 million. Sizemore would be a good addition, though considering his track record with injuries in recent seasons, $9 million is too steep of a price to pay for an outfielder that may spend more time on the disabled list rather than on the field.
- In case there was any doubt, Aramis Ramirez’s agent, Paul Kinzer, confirmed that the third baseman will not return to the Cubs next season. Kinzer told reporters at the general manager meetings that, “that ship has sailed” saying that the Cubs are not among the teams interested in the veteran third baseman. This should come as no surprise, it has known since about Spring Training that Ramirez will not return to the Cubs next season. The Cubs are still going to have to find a way to replace the power that Ramirez provided for them since halfway through the 2003 season.
- One of the ways to replace the power that Ramirez provided may be to sign of the most prolific power hitters on the free agent market. Super-Agent Scott Boras, who represents Prince Fielder, told reporters that he plans to meet with the Epstein in order to gauge the Cubs’ position with a new management team in place. Boras, though, is not ruling the Cubs out of the Fielder derby saying that “Prince has hit well at Wrigley Field, as well as in that division.” Even though Fielder is entering the prime of his career, the current feeling generating from all the comments made by Epstein and Hoyer is that the Cubs may not be among the top suitors for the slugging first baseman. Epstein has spoke highly of Bryan LaHair this off-season, and it would seem that the career minor-leaguer may be the leading candidate to be the Cubs’ starting first baseman in 2012.
There will likely be more rumors to develop as Epstein and company travel north to Milwaukee. The first two items on the agenda for the Cubs’ front office may be to resolve the compensation issue with the Boston Red Sox, and hire a new manager. The Cubs will conduct a second round of interviews with Philadelphia Phillies’ bench coach Peter Mackanin, Milwaukee Brewers’ hitting coach Dale Sveum, Texas Rangers’ pitching Mike Maddux, and Cleveland Indians’ bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr appearing to be the final four candidates.