Quick Hits: Cubs, Dodgers, Padres

Former Red Sox GM and current Cubs president Theo Epstein, speaking along with Athletics GM Billy Beane at a panel discussion in Boston on Monday, says that the big problem facing big-payroll teams is how to spend their extra money, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reports. New rules have made it difficult to splurge in the draft or in the international market, and more and more younger players are signing long-term deals that buy out free agent seasons. That leaves the free agent market as the next obvious place to find talent. Big-payroll teams have historically dominated the free agent market, of course, but with so many players signing long-term with their current clubs, the free agent talent pool will be shallower in the coming years than it once was. "It's one thing to have an advantage as far as the amount of dollars you have, but if there aren't effective places to spend that money, what do you do with that advantage?" says Epstein.

Beane, meanwhile, has a different take, lamenting that, as a small-payroll GM, he isn't able to keep his players longer. "If we could have one thing, it would be to draft, develop and keep our own players," he says. "Having capital, it's not just about signing free agents. Having capital allows you to take your Gio Gonzalez and keep him through the rest of his career." Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer gave manager Dale Sveum his vote of confidence Tuesday, MLB.com's Carrie Muskat reports. "We’re all in this together," says Hoyer. "We’ve struggled, it’s been painful to watch because we keep on squandering leads. That’s on Theo and that’s on me. We have to figure out ways to get better. We’re not the most talented team in the league right now." The Cubs are currently 5-13.
  • Dodgers team president Stan Kasten expects the team's currently-stratospheric payroll to decrease as the team adds more talent from the minors, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. The Dodgers are focusing on scouting and development, Kasten says, so that, in the future, the payroll "is not going to be where it is." The Dodgers are currently 9-10 and have been racked by injuries.
  • Ted Lilly is scheduled to start for the Dodgers Wednesday, and he'll be the Dodgers' eighth starter in their first 20 games, MLB.com's Ken Gurnick points out. (The other seven are Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Josh Beckett, Chad Billingsley, Chris Capuano, and Stephen Fife.) The Dodgers' quandary of what to do with their starting pitching depth was a major story in spring training, and the Dodgers did, in fact, deal Aaron Harang to the Rockies. But after a slew of injuries (including today's revelation that Billingsley will have Tommy John surgery), that starting pitching depth is no more.
  • Playing badly might or might not yield big dividends for the Padres, notes Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Krasovic quotes Baseball America's Jim Callis, who points out that the top five picks in the draft are much more valuable than other picks, but Krasovic also notes that the Padres haven't done so well lately with top picks like Matt Bush and Donavan Tate. The Padres are currently 5-14.
  • Veteran Eddie Bonine, who recently signed a minor-league deal with the Padres after being released by the Diamondbacks, is trying to make it back to the big leagues as a knuckleballer, MLB.com's Corey Brock reports. Bonine used the knuckleball as a secondary pitch in the past, throwing it 19% of the time as member of the Tigers bullpen in 2010. Bonine missed the 2012 season after having Tommy John surgery.

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