Cubs

Kap: Carpenter for Theo worth it

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Kap: Carpenter for Theo worth it

With the Theo Epstein compensation saga finally about done, it is time to evaluate where the Cubs are now vs. where they were prior to Epsteins hiring.

First, and foremost they have tremendous stability in their front office after spending the 2011 season with then-GM Jim Hendrys job status in doubt.

Adding Epstein as well as Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod gives the Cubs a talented triumvirate that has a proven track record of success and should translate to major improvement for the Cubs.

A look at the major league team at the start of spring training is most definitely a cause for concern when you factor in the departures of some of the teams best offensive players from 2011 in Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Pena.

However, when you factor in the lackadaisical approach that Ramirez played with and Penas substandard numbers in certain key offensive categories (.175 average with runners in scoring position and .133 against left handed pitchers) you realize that the Cubs may not have lost as much as some people might want to believe.

The 2012 Cubs are a long way from being a contending team. However, they do have improved starting pitching depth, should be a better defensive team and are starting to incorporate younger players into the mix, which should help the rebuilding process.

They have several big question marks, starting with Alfonso Soriano in left field, Ian Stewart at third base and Bryan LaHair at first base. Can those three put up decent numbers?

How about the closers role? Is Carlos Marmol going to be the dominant force that he was prior to 2011? Or will he be the pitcher who imploded last season when he put up a 5.00 ERA in the second half of a 91-loss season?

In addition, the Cubs' minor league system is better than it was a year ago. With the addition of a heralded 2011 draft class, several prospects obtained in trades -- including touted first baseman Anthony Rizzo who came over from San Diego in the Andrew Cashner deal -- and a revamped scouting department, good times could be ahead on the North side.

No matter how the 2012 season turns out, the Cubs have a much brighter future than they had a year ago at this time when they were hoping that underperforming veterans would play back to form and that they would catch lightning in a bottle with a very suspect starting rotation.

While no one is predicting greatness this season, most around the club believe that they will see a better result through improved efforts, improved defense and an infusion of optimism throughout the organization.

So when you look at what the Cubs gave up for Epstein, it really doesnt matter how Chris Carpenter performs in Boston. He is a talented reliever with an injury history and should he go to Beantown and become an All-Star it will still be a small price to pay for a front office team that is among baseballs best and have been charged with the mission of ending a 104-year period of losing.

Should Theo Epstein and Co. win a World Series on the North Side of Chicago it wont matter if Chris Carpenter wins the Cy Young Award. Everyone in Cubs Nation will be too busy wiping champagne from their eyes to notice.

Offseason of change begins with Cubs firing pitching coach Chris Bosio

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USA TODAY

Offseason of change begins with Cubs firing pitching coach Chris Bosio

"Of course," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said in the middle of the National League Championship — he would like his coaches back in 2018. Pitching coach Chris Bosio told the team's flagship radio station this week that the staff expected to return next year. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein didn't go that far during Friday afternoon's end-of-season news conference at Wrigley Field, but he did say: "Rest assured, Joe will have every coach back that he wants back."

That's Cub: USA Today columnist Bob Nightengale first reported Saturday morning that Bosio had been fired, a source confirming the team declined a club contract option for next year and made a major influence on the Wrigleyville rebuild a free agent. Epstein and Bosio did not immediately respond to text messages and the club has not officially outlined the shape of the 2018 coaching staff.

Those exit meetings on Friday at Wrigley Field are just the beginning of an offseason that could lead to sweeping changes, with the Cubs looking to replace 40 percent of their rotation, identify an established closer (whether or not that's Wade Davis), find another leadoff option and maybe break up their World Series core of hitters to acquire pitching. 

The obvious candidate to replace Bosio is Jim Hickey, Maddon's longtime pitching coach with the Tampa Bay Rays who has Chicago roots and recently parted ways with the small-market franchise that stayed competitive by consistently developing young arms like David Price and Chris Archer.

Of course, Maddon denied that speculation during an NLCS where the Los Angeles Dodgers dominated the Cubs in every phase of the game and the manager's bullpen decisions kept getting second-guessed.

Bosio has a big personality and strong opinions that rocked the boat at times, but he brought instant credibility as an accomplished big-league pitcher who helped implement the team's sophisticated game-planning system.

Originally a Dale Sveum hire for the 2012 season/Epstein regime Year 1 where the Cubs lost 101 games, Bosio helped coach up and market short-term assets like Ryan Dempster, Scott Feldman, Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija. 

Those win-later trades combined with Bosio's expertise led to a 2016 major-league ERA leader (Kyle Hendricks) and a 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner (Jake Arrieta) plus setup guys Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. and All-Star shortstop Addison Russell.

Bosio helped set the foundation for the group that won last year's World Series and has made three consecutive trips to the NLCS. But as the Cubs are going to find out this winter, there is a shelf life to everything, even for those who made their mark during a golden age of baseball on the North Side.

Report: Cubs fire pitching coach Chris Bosio after six seasons with team

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USA TODAY

Report: Cubs fire pitching coach Chris Bosio after six seasons with team

In Theo Epstein's end of season press conference on Friday he said that any coach Joe Maddon wants back will return in 2018.

Evidently, there's one coach Maddon didn't want back.

According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Cubs have fired longtime pitching coach Chris Bosio.

Bosio served as the Cubs pitching coach from 2012-17. He was the team's pitching coach under former managers' Dale Sveum (2012-13) and Rick Renteria (2014), and was retained when Maddon was hired as manager of the Cubs in 2015.

Bosio, who is one of the most respected pitching coaches in baseball, was instrumental in the career resurgence of Jake Arrieta who captured the Cy Young award in 2015, and the development of 27-year-old starter Kyle Hendricks (MLB's ERA leader in 2016).

One reason that could've led to Bosio's firing was the pitching staff's control issues during both the regular season and postseason, which Epstein mentioned during Friday's press conference. The Cubs issued the fifth-most walks (554) in the National League during the regular season and the highest total (53) during the postseason.

As the Cubs hit the market for a new pitching coach, Nightengale mentioned that one name that could be on the radar is former Tampa Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey, who parted ways with the organization following the 2017 season.

Hickey served as Maddon's pitching coach in Tampa Bay from 2006-2014.