Inbox: With skipper in tow, who's next for Cubs?
Beat reporter Carrie Muskat fields questions from fans
New manager Dale Sveum, Cuban outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and pitching are among the topics in this week's Inbox. Send your questions to CubsInbox@gmail.com, and please include your name and hometown.
I think the Cubs made the right choice picking Dale Sveum, because he and Theo Epstein were together for two years, and Sveum knows the National League Central better than the other candidates. Now that the Cubs have picked the skipper, do you have any insight to his possible coaching candidates? Any possibility for Greg Maddux or Ryne Sandberg?
-- Ara W., Alpharetta, Ga.
Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo will return, and Sveum has talked to former Brewers pitcher Chris Bosio about becoming the pitching coach. Expect more coaching announcements this week. Sandberg has committed to manage the Philies' Triple-A team for a second year. Greg and his brother, Mike Maddux, did talk about Greg joining the coaching staff when Mike interviewed with the Cubs. However, Greg has to decide if he could commit full time to the job. Family concerns are a factor for him.
Having signed Sveum as manager, will the Cubs take a new look at making a move for Prince Fielder? Is there a chance their past relationship could give us an edge in the bidding war?
-- Kyle L., Chicago
There's no edge unless Fielder offers the Cubs a huge discount or Sveum wants to pay part of Fielder's salary. Sveum did rave about Fielder, saying the first baseman "plays harder than anybody in the game now." But when asked if he'd like to have Fielder on his team, Sveum was realistic.
"You'd like to have a lot of great players, all the great free agents out there," Sveum said. "We're trying to do something here in Chicago to build now and win right now, but be smart about it, too."
What about free agent Mark Buehrle from the crosstown White Sox? He's a great pitcher and would not have to move his family. Of course, Theo would have to outbid the Sox and everyone else.
-- Terry A., Magnolia, Ark.
Buehrle would be intriguing because of his durability and his 24-6 record against NL teams. He'll be 33 in March, and has totaled 200-plus innings in each of the last 11 seasons. The Cubs talked to Buehrle's agent, as well as representatives for free agent C.J. Wilson, at the General Managers Meetings. Wilson, 31, has totaled 200 innings each of his last two seasons as a starter, and he is coming off a 16-7 season. You're right in that the Cubs would have to outbid several teams for Buehrle. We may get an answer at the Winter Meetings, which run Dec. 5-8 in Dallas.
Why are the Cubs interested in Yoenis Cespedes? We have Brett Jackson.
-- John P., Swifton, Ark.
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They're being thorough. Hopefully you've watched the video of Cespedes to see why so many teams are interested in the 26-year-old Cuban outfielder (do a search -- you'll find it). He's a five-tool player, possibly the best position player to come out of Cuba, but he also is expected to come with a hefty price tag. There is another Cuban outfielder, 19-year-old Jorge Soler, whom the Cubs are interested in as well, and they watched him during a trip to the Dominican Republic. Soler may be a better fit; he also is drawing lots of interest from other teams.
Looking at Alfonso Soriano's numbers (.244, 26 home runs, 88 RBIs), where would he rank in regards to designated hitters in the American League? I would think several AL teams would love to get that kind of production from the DH spot (e.g., the White Sox). If we can eat some of his salary, we need to move him ASAP. If our new front office can rid us of his contract, they will get a two-year free pass from me.
-- Matthew B., Chicago
That's a lot of "ifs," and a lot of money for the Cubs to eat (Soriano is owed $54 million over three years). It's not likely to happen. As far as where Soriano ranks, he is eighth among DHs in terms of batting average (based on 400 plate appearances); second in home runs (David Ortiz hit 28); and fourth in RBIs behind Victor Martinez, Ortiz and Billy Butler. Yes, Soriano would've fared better than White Sox DH Adam Dunn, who hit .159 with 11 homers and 42 RBIs.
Are the Cubs close to giving compensation to the Red Sox and Padres?
-- Mike S., Springfield, Ill.
The Cubs and Red Sox have until after the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 8 to settle the compensation issue regarding Epstein. The Cubs and Padres also were expected to resolve the compensation for general manager Jed Hoyer around the same time.
When does the Spring Training schedule come out?
-- Bob S., Lake Zurich, Ill.
It's posted on Cubs.com. The Cubs' opponent for the split-squad games March 17-18 in Las Vegas will be announced soon.
I heard a rumor that the Cubs' new Spring Training facility will be a replica of Wrigley Field, down to the dimensions of the outfield. If that is true, will they bring clippings of the ivy to plant in the outfield? True Wrigley ivy would be a really nice touch, in my opinion.
-- Daniel F., El Paso, Texas
Unfortunately, true Wrigley ivy would not survive in the Arizona heat.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings, and you can follow her on Twitter@CarrieMuskat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.