Thursday Tune-Up: MLB Wild Card, Compensation, Cespedes


The Chicago Cubs are inching towards Spring Training, but a few key decision still remain before pitchers and catchers report to the Cubs’ facilities. The biggest decision and perhaps one that will be resolved first will be salary of starting pitcher Matt Garza for the 2012 season. The Cubs and Garza are set to go to Arbitration on Friday, and unless the two sides reach an agreement today, it is likely that the Cubs and their $7.25 million offer would prevail in the hearing. In addition to Garza, the Cubs are still pursuing Cuban prospects Yoenis Cespedes, Jorge Soler, and Geraldo Concepcion. Concepcion is expected to sign with a team soon, and Cespedes is set to travel to the United States within the next week. However, Cubs’ chairman Tom Ricketts is in the Dominican Republic and he may or may not pay a visit to newly established Dominican Republic resident Cespedes before he returns to Chicago.

Going back to Spring Training, it is officially February on the calendar and that means that Spring Training is right around the corner. If it is not already, be sure to make Tim Sheridan’s Blog over at the Boys of Spring one of your daily reads. Sheridan does an excellent job in posting updates and photos of the players that are already taking part in Spring Training activities. Darwin Barney, Zeke DeVoss, Matt Cerda, Jim Adduci, and Tony Campana are among the players already in camp along with manager Dale Sveum. Music to my ears.

After the jump, we will see potential roadblocks to the expansion plan for the 2012 post-season, the Theo Epstein compensation from the Red Sox perspective, and interested read on Cespedes.

  • According to a report from Jayson Stark, sources are citing concern with projected expansion of the 2012 post-season. Remember that the plan was for an additional wild card team to be added to both the National and American league. The biggest roadblock to the expansion being implemented in 2012 are scheduling concerns. The way the MLB schedule is currently constructed; the regular season will end on October 3 with the Division series beginning on October 6. As the report mentions, that would leave only two games for schedule makers to fit in tie-breakers, rain-outs, and the one game playoff series between the potential wild-card teams. While these are described as major complications, most within the baseball industry are in agreement that the playoff expansion will receive a green-flag for the 2012 season.
  • Earl Nash, of BoSox Injection, runs down the list of potential top prospects that the Red Sox may receive from the Cubs as compensation for Theo Epstein joining the Cubs’ front office. Nash begins the report by asking “What will the Sox get from the Cubs in compensation for stealing Epstein?” Nash replies to the question by saying a top prospect. Then Nash goes on to give the details on top prospect Brett Jackson, top pitching prospect Trey McNutt, pitcher Chris Carpenter, third baseman Josh Vitters, catcher Welington Castillo, second baseman Zeke DeVoss, and third baseman Jeimer Candelario. While it is an excellent read on the Cubs’ prospects, there is one issue. That issue is that the Red Sox are not going to get a top prospect. The Red Sox would be lucky to get Carpenter or Vitters, but to even suggest Jackson is wishful thinking. Also to clarify Epstein’s stance on Jackson as Red Sox fans may be misconstrued, the only reason Jackson is not starting is because he projects as a center fielder and not a corner outfielder. Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano were a result of Jim Hendry’s doing and not Epstein’s. Epstein would love nothing more than for Jackson to be in the opening day lineup for the Cubs. Reminder Earl, the Cubs’ signed David DeJesus, they did not trade for him. The truth is that no one knows what type of player the Cubs will be sending to the Red Sox, but the Red Sox nation may be using clouded judgement when trying to speculate on the compensation.
  • For more fluff on Yoenis Cespedes, check out the latest from Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus. Goldstein asks a number of executives whether they would have Cespedes or another major league outfielder that has yet to reach their ceiling–Colby Rasmus, Drew Stubbs, B.J. Upton, Chris Young, and Adam Jones. In most cases than not Cespedes was the one chosen, with only two of the eight executives polled not taking the Cuban Prospect.