Santa Claus has already provided many presents gifts for the boys and girls of Chicago, but fans of the Chicago Cubs are still waiting for the Santa Claus to visit Wrigley Field. From one perspective, it would seem that the Grinch has visited Wrigley Field with the Cubs losing their pieces in Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Pena, and Sean Marshall. Nonetheless, the Cubs and their fan base are still hoping that some of gifts from Santa have been back-ordered and will arrive over the course of the next couple of weeks.
Looking at the Cubs’ wish list, the team has filled the vacancies at the third base position with third baseman Ian Stewart, and in right field with David DeJesus. The Cubs’ front office is still looking to add pieces mainly to improve their starting pitching depth. With that said, lets take a look at the remaining areas on the Cubs’ wish list.
- Starting Pitching: Perhaps the biggest area of focus for the Cubs’ front office is on the starting rotation. Cubs’ general manager Jed Hoyer has prioritized pitching this winter, specifically adding more depth to the starting rotation. This philosophy by Hoyer was a main factor in the Cubs decision to trade Sean Marshall to the Cincinnati Reds for left handed starting pitcher Travis Wood. Even with the Cubs’ acquisition of Wood, that has not stopped the team’s pursuit of free agent pitchers. The Cubs have been in regular with free agent starting pitchers Paul Maholm and Jeff Francis. Their appears to be mutual interest between the Cubs and Maholm and the two sides could come to an agreement within the coming weeks.
- First Base: The initial flurry of Anthony Rizzo trade rumors seems to have cooled, but the Cubs still remain with a vacancy at their first base position. Though depending on who you ask, the Cubs may not have a vacancy at their first base position. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein has made it no secret that he is intent on giving Bryan LaHair an opportunity at being an everyday player. While LaHair is an experienced outfielder, he is a first baseman at heart. LaHair hit .288/.377/.508/.885 in 59 at bats with the Cubs during the latter part of the season in 2011. If the Epstein and Hoyer are intent on LaHair being there everyday first baseman, that would signal the end of the Cubs’ pursuit of Prince Fielder or any other free agent first baseman for that matter. Though, that would not preclude the Cubs from pursuing a trade for Rizzo. Rizzo is 22 years old, and it could use more seasoning at the triple-A level. Meaning LaHair may be a temporary stop-gap at the first base position until Rizzo is ready to take over the position on an everyday basis.
- Prospects: It is clear that neither Epstein nor Hoyer are fond of the prospects that were developed under the Jim Hendry regime. Tyler Colvin, DJ LeMahieu, and Ryan Flaherty were all players that Hendry admired, and now like Hendry, those three aforementioned players are no longer with the organization. Epstein and Hoyer are determined to build the Cubs’ farm system using the newly created Cubs’ way. The Cubs’ way is apparently finding athletic players that are defensive minded. If the Cubs are going to renovate their farm system, they are going to have to do it by trading away whatever assets they currently have. Starting pitcher Matt Garza is on that list as the Cubs have been willing to listen to trade offers for their best starting pitcher. Though, the team should not stop with Garza. Closer Carlos Marmol, starting pitcher Ryan Dempster, catcher Geovany Soto, and center fielder Marlon Byrd are the other players that should join Garza on the Cubs’ trading block. The goal is to turn short-term assets into long-term assets. The best way for the Cubs’ front office to do that is by telling teams that everyone with the exception of shortstop Starlin Castro can be had in the right deal.