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Theo's First November- Flashback to 2011.

Things have been REALLY quiet in Cubsland these days, so I thought I'd revisit the first November after Theo became a Chicago Cub.

10/25/2011- Theo Epstein was announced as the new President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs. In his opening press conference he promised to build a stronger farm and scouting team. Soon after it was announced that Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod would join as General Manager and Assistant GM.

November 2011

11/2- The month starts with a bang when Theo fires Cubs Manager Mike Quade who had one year left on his contract.

11/10- Theo's first signing as a Cub is.....RHP Marco Antonio Carrillo to a minor league contract and invited him to spring training. Carrillo had been in the Cubs organization since 2009 and this was one of those nontender/re-sign situations after the season ends. In case you were wondering he never did make it to MLB and he's currently still playing in Mexico!

11/17 - Dale Sveum signs on as the new Cubs manager with a 3 year contract, but as we now know he would last only 2 seasons and end with a 127-197 record.

11/18 - 40 man roster moves: Luis Montanez, Esmalin Caridad and Kyle Smith were dropped; Josh Vitters, Matt Szczur, Jeff Beliveau, and Junior Lake were added.

Beliveau was the Cubs' Minor League Pitcher of the year and he would end up making appearances in 22 Cubs game in 2012 with a 4.58 ERA in 17.2 IP. He ended up getting designated for assignment in December of that year, but he did get picked up by the Tampa Bay Rays and bounced around their organization for 3 years before getting picked up by both the Blue Jays and the Indians. He was finally released for good in 2018.

Vitters was a number 3 overall pick and did get 99 plate appearances in 2012 but he only had a .121 batting average. Despite being injury addled, he received a September call up in 2013 and 2014 but he didn't get any playing time. The next year the Colorado Rockies signed him to a minor league contract but he was released end of March.

Lake was a Dominican international free agent who signed with the Cubs in 2007. He didn't end up making his MLB debut with the Cubs til 2013. He was actually the 2014 Opening Day starting left fielder, but ended up being optioned back to the Iowa Cubs with an anemic .216 batting average. In 2015 he rode the Iowa shuttle until he was traded at the deadline to the Baltimore Orioles for Tommy Hunter. Hunter ended up just being a rental for the Cubs when he pitched to a 5.74 ERA in 15.2 innings.

Now you might be wondering how/why Matt Szczur who was only in Class A at the time (and had only been drafted in 2010) was protected by the Rule 5 Draft. Well he signed a baseball exclusive contract with the Cubs in January 2011, since this was his SECOND contract of his MLB career this made him Rule 5 eligible. He would eventually make his MLB debut in 2014 and of course most of us remember him in 2016 when he let Anthony Rizzo borrow his bat and thus cured Rizzo's postseason slump.

11/30- Finally! The end of November 2011, brings Theo's FIRST free agency signing! The Cubs sign outfielder David DeJesus to a 2 year contract and a third year with an option/buyout worth $10 million. DeJesus was 32 years old for the 2012 season and he was worth 1.8 WAR. The next year he shifted to CF after the Cubs signed Nate Schierholtz. Shortly after the trade deadline on August 19th, DeJesus was traded to the Washington Nationals for a player to be named later (though that player never materialized and it was basically a 2.5 million contract owed money dump). Four days later the Nationals traded him to the Tampa Bay Rays. This time there actually was a player to be named later and his name was Matthew Spann, a LHP who played in the Nationals' minor league system until he was released August 12, 2016. Oh and DeJesus? He had a .5 WAR season with the Rays in 2014 (though marred with injuries), he was traded at the July 2015 deadline to the Los Angeles Angels for Eduar Lopez. He didn't end up signing with another team in 2016 or 2017 so he announced his retirement and......was immediately hired by CSN Chicago to be a pre- and post-game analyst!

So the TL;DR recap: in his first November, Theo fired one manager and hired another, protected 4 guys in the Rule 5, only one would be on the 2016 team and that guy was only protected by a technicality and his first big free agent signing was a future CSN Chicago co-host! Okay that sounds kind of cynical. I'm going to blame boredom? But the Rule 5 protection deadline is November 20th at 5 PM Pacific so perhaps things will get a little bit interesting?


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