Sunday, January 31, 2010

1-31 Radio & TV Recaps

First of all, Xavier Nady has now officially signed with the Cubs. Also, I've updated my Cubs early roster predictions.

Now, let's catch up on some TV and radio recaps relating to the Cubs.

Former Cubs outfielder Reed Johnson joined David Kaplan and company on Chicago Tribune Live on Tuesday after the Cubs signed Xavier Nady:
  • Reed thinks the "door is pretty much closed" on his return to Chicago.
  • He has nothing but respect for the organization and the city. There's nothing but good things to say about his experience with the Cubs.
  • Johnson says that he's only gone on the DL twice because of his back in the last 3 years. In both those situations, he only took 15 days off. He does not see his back as an issue.
  • He would still like to work his way back to Chicago in some way.
  • Reed says that you pay your agent to take the responsibility of finding a team off you. Johnson is not doing anything differently than he would if he were signed with a team.
  • The 2009 locker room chemistry was different. Part of that was the slow start and injuries. Winning cures all problems as far as chemistry is concerned.

After the injury, Dave Van Dyck says that he likes the move to sign Nady, but only if he recovers from his injury. Xavier brings a lot more pop to the bench then Reed would bring. Kap thinks that Nady could end up being the starting left fielder if Soriano doesn't play well. Van Dyck thinks that the Cubs are paying Soriano too much to sit him on the bench. The two Daves argued as to whether or not Nady will end up taking Sori's job.

On Wednesday, Andre Dawson joined CTL on CSN:

  • The Hawk was not nervous before the decision as to what cap he should wear.
  • The delay in the decision was that his preparation was against what the Hall decided.
  • He respects the decision by the HOF, but he is obviously disappointed that he is not going in as a Cub.
  • The cap issue was not the determining factor, but it was the Cub fans. Dawson thinks that had he retired as a Cub, it would be a no brainer, he would be wearing a Cub hat.
  • Andre thinks that the Cubs fans are the ones who really embraced him, and Chicago was where his career really became a HOF career.
  • Dawson doesn't think the cap decision will affect whether or not his number will be retired by the Cubs.
  • The Hawk plans to do enough with his speech to make a point, but he wants to do it with class.

Jim Hendry talked about Xavier Nady on CSN:

  • When you have a chance to get a guy like this, Jim doesn't think you worry about who's going to be playing where.
  • A great doctor did the surgery, and Xavier's bat is expected to be ready to go to start the season.

Cubs TV broadcaster Len Kasper joined the Danny Mac show on 670 the Score on Thursday to talk Cubs:

  • The Cubs discussed movie scenes and music first.
  • Dan and Matt played a clip from Len singing at the annual Len and Bob Bash.
  • Kasper confirmed that Nady prefers his first name to be pronounced eX-avier, not Zavier.
  • Kasper likes the idea of platooning Nady and Kosuke. Len expects platoons in right field and second base this season.
  • Nady and Tracy are very similar, because they will help backup the corner spots in the outfield and infield.
  • If Ramirez or Soriano go down, the Cubs will have a backup plan.
  • Len mentioned that Starlin Castro could be major league ready at some point during the 2010 season. We could see Theriot moving to second base if Castro comes up.
  • Kasper expects better years out of Fontenot and Soto, and if Jeff Baker can play like he did last year he will be a good piece.
  • Dan and Matt don't think the Cubs have had a good winter.
  • Len thinks that the Cardinals are still the team to beat. They are basically the same team as last year.
  • He doesn't think that it will take 97 to win this division, but if you can get up to 90 or 92 you could find yourself in the playoffs. The way baseball is built, you just have to find a way to get into the postseason, and you have a chance.

Earlier this month Ryan Dempster joined Boers and Bernstein:

  • Demp has started a great foundation to help Di George Syndrome, which is the disease his daughter has.
  • Riley cannot swallow, but the Dempsters are working on raising money and awareness.
  • It's tough to watch a child go through what Riley is going through, but at the same thing it's amazing to see how strong the children are.
  • Next the guys moved on to baseball. Boers and Bernstein wanted to revisit the Milton Bradley situation. Dempster thinks that a guy like Milton takes away from concentrating on baseball because you have to answer questions and issues that don't pertain to the game.
  • Ryan wished Bradley nothing but the best in Seattle.
  • The guys had a hard time understand how a guy like Milton really effects the team on the field. Dempster's answer was that it doesn't. Ryan thinks that as an individual you have to be prepared to help your team as much as you can on a daily basis. The lack of positivity from guys in the clubhouse was what they really bothered Ryan.
  • Dempster thought that 2007 and 2008 were such great years in the clubhouse that anything else in '09 would be a disappointment.
  • "You just have to go out there and try to have fun everyday."
  • Ryan picks up a paper every once in awhile, but he's not a guy who's glued to his computer all winter reading baseball rumors. He likes to see moments like Andre Dawson being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
  • He pointed out that the Cubs have a lot of the same players that they had in 2008, which he described as one of the best season's he's ever been a part of. The Cubs have lost some guys, but they gained some key people too.
  • Soriano, Soto, and others have worked hard this offseason.
  • Ryan never had the temptation to do steroids when he was on the way back from his injuries. "There's no substitute for hard work," he said.

Dave Van Dyck was with Mully and Hanley on 670 the Score last week:

  • Van Dyck went from the Cubs to Cardinals to White Sox fan fests in the past few weeks.
  • He thinks the White Sox fans are a little less rabid than the St. Louis and North Side fans.
  • Dave says you get a little negativity and questioning from fans. At the Chicago fan fests fans ask questions, but at Cardinals' Winter Warm-Up most sessions have just the guests and the host talking.
  • This was before the Xavier Nady signing, so the guys asked Dave who he would like A) Nady B) Gomes C) Dye. After joking about "D" non of the above, and saying that Reed Johnson he'd rather have Reed Johnson instead of Dye, Van Dyck says that Gomes would be fine.
  • You'd like to get a pretty good player because all 3 of the Cubs' outfielders could go in slumps.

That's it for now!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Former Cub Offseason Updates

Let's check in with where some former Cubs are landing this winter! I will not include the players that were Cubs in 2009, because most of you know where Heilman, Fox, Miles, Bradley, and Harden will be playing next year:
  • Former Cubs outfielder Jim Edmonds has continued his trip around the NL Central. After sitting out the 2009 season, the left handed hitting centerfielder has agreed to a minor league deal with the Brewers. He is also invited to big leauge Spring Training. The Brewers will play the Cubs are March 9 & 12 in Cactus League action.
  • Rich Hill, who spent a solid year in the Cubs' rotation in 2007 before falling off the map in '08, has signed a minor league deal with the Cardinals. The contract includes an invite to Spring Training in Florida.
  • Lefty Neal Cotts has signed a minor league deal with the Pirates.
  • Michael Wuertz, who was traded to Oakland last March for two nobodies that have already left the organization, pitched great last year and has avoided arbitration with the A's.
  • Cubs' Fan favorite of 2008 Henry Blanco, who played with the Padres last year, has signed a one year deal with the Mets.
  • On December 29, another name you might remember found a new home on a two year deal. DeRosa.
  • Joey Gathright inked a minor league deal with Toronto in December. The speedster played with the Cubs, Orioles, and Red Sox last year.
  • Mark Grudzielanek, who manned second base for the Cubs in 2003, signed a minor league deal with Cleveland earlier this month. He finished last year with the Twins.
  • Jerry Hairston Jr. is the newest member of the large group of former Cubs to go on to play for the Padres. (He signed a one year deal on January 18.)
  • LaTroy Hawkins will return to Wrigley Field this year as a member of the Brewers. Another guy who's bounced around a lot. Hawkins, by the way, was not a fan favorite.
  • Bob Howry will join Aaron Heilman as former Cubs in the Arizona bullpen. Howry was given a one year deal with a club option.
  • Jason Kendall, who played briefly with the Cubs in 2007, is now a Royal. He was lucky enough to get a two year deal even in this economy.
  • Jason Marquis has signed a two year deal with the Washington Nationals. Many people expected him to go the New York Mets, but instead he signed with the younger Nats club.
  • Gary Matthews Jr., who played a forgettable two seasons on the North Side, was shipped to New York for Brian Stokes last week.
  • As most of you know, Juan Pierre will return to Chicago, this time sporting a White Sox uni. Maybe this time he'll get cheered at Wrigley.
  • Paul Bako, Michael Barrett, Nomar Garciaparra, Daryle Ward, Cliff Floyd, Reed Johnson, Shawn Estes, Mark Prior, Todd Wellemyer, Kevin Gregg, Tom Gordon, Luis Vizcaino, David Weathers, Will Ohman, and Glendon Rusch are all still listed as free agents. Out of this list, who would you most and least like to see return to the Cubs??
  • Last but not least, (okay maybe least), Randall Simon has signed with the Rockford Riverhawks of the Northern League.

Updated Early Roster Prediction

If Opening Day was tomorrow, and the Cubs had the team that they have today, what would the 25-man roster look like? Let's take a look:

The Cubs have made a few moves, so I've updates my roster predictions once again. Changes and in italics. Updated after Nady signing.

Carlos Zambrano
Ryan Dempster
Randy Wells
Tom Gorzelanny
Jeff Samardzija
Ted Lilly (DL)

Carlos Marmol
John Grabow
Sean Marshall
Angel Guzman
Jeff Gray
Esmalin Caridad
Carlos Silva

Starting Lineup (In batting order)
SS- Ryan Theriot
RF- Kosuke
1B- Derrek Lee
3B- Aramis Ramirez
CF- Marlon Byrd
LF- Alfonso Soriano
C- Geovany Soto
2B- Jeff Baker

Koyie Hill
Mike Fontenot
Andres Blanco
Chad Tracy
Xavier Nady

Left Off
Justin Berg
David Patton
John Gaub
Welington Castillo
Mike Parisi
Armismendy Mota
Sam Fuld
Micah Hoffpauir

I will update my projected Opening Day roster throughout the offseason as the Cubs make moves.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mid-Winter Down on the Farm Report

Lots of Cubs news this week, but let's take a day to check in with what the future holds. This will be our first "Down on the Farm" report of 2010! The Cubs have a strong minor league organization, so we start with some rankings.

Top 11 Cubs Prospects
Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus ranked the top 11 minor league players in the Chicago Cubs organization. Here is the link to his article, and here is the list, which includes Kevin's "four more", so really there is the top 15:
1. Josh Vitters, 3B: 5 stars
2. Starlin Castro, SS: 5 stars
3. Hak-Ju Lee, SS: 4 stars
4. Brett Jackson, CF: 4 stars
5. Andrew Cashner, RHP: 3 stars
6. Jay Jackson, RHP: 3 stars
7. Chris Carpenter, RHP: 3 stars
8. Chris Archer, RHP: 3 stars
9. Kyler Burke, OF: 3 stars
10. Ryan Flaherty, INF: 3 stars
11. John Gaub, LHP: 3 stars

4 More...
12. Chris Huseby, RHP
13. Logan Watkins, INF
14. Dae-Eun Rhee, LHP
15. Darwin Barney, SS

Vineline's Ranks
Each year, Vineline, the official monthly magazine of the Chicago Cubs, ranks the best Cubs prospects. The full list of "50 names from the farm" will be in the February issue, but we got a nice preview at last week's Cubs Convention.

Best Command: Casey Coleman
Best Poise/Make up: Hung-Wen Chen
Best Athleticism: Jay Jackson
Best Mechanics: Andrew Cashner
Best Durability: (tie) Mitch Atkins, Hung-Wen Chen, and Casey Coleman
Best Fastball: Rafael Dolis
Best Curveball: Aaron Shafer
Best Change-up: Jeff Antigua
Best Slider: Andrew Cashner
Best Other: Hung-Wen Chen
Best Contact Hitter (tie): Logan Watkins and Hak-Ju Lee
Best Power Hitter (tie): Rebel Ridling and Ryan Flaherty
Best Plate Discipline (tie): Kyler Burke and James Adduci
Best Clutch Hitter: Rebel Ridling
Best Situational Hitter: Rebel Ridling

Best Range by position:
C- Welington Castillo
1B- Rebel Ridling
2B- Logan Watkins
3B (tie)- Ryan Flaherty and Jonathan Mota
SS- Starlin Castro
OF- Jose Valdez

Best Arm Strength by position:
C- Welington Castillo
1B- Jovan Rosa
2B- Logan Watkins
3B- Junior Lake
SS- Starlin Castro
OF- Kyler Burke

Best Throwing Accuracy by position:
C (tie)- Robinson Chirinos and Steve Clevenger
1B- Rebel Ridling
2B- Marwin Gonzalez
3B- Marquez Smith
SS (tie)- Nate Sampson and Hak-Ju Lee
OF- Kyler Burke

Best Foot workby position:
C- Welington Castillo
1B- Rebel Ridling
2B- Logan Watkins
3B (tie)- Ryan Flaherty and Jonathan Mota
OF (tie)- Sam Fuld, Brett Jackson, and Jose Valdez

Best Raw Speed (tie): Jose Valdez, Hak-Ju Lee
Best Base-Stealing Ability (tie): Jose Valdez, Hak-Jue Lee
Best Home-to-First (tie): Jose Valdez, Hak-Ju Lee
Best Baserunning Instincts: James Adduci
Best Heart/Work Ethic: James Adduci and Matt Camp
Best Competitiveness: Brett Jackson, Darwin Barney, and Starlin Castro
Best Baseball IQ: Darwin Barney

Minor League Invites to Big League Spring Training
J.R Mathes, LHP
James Russell, LHP
Andrew Cashner, RHP
Casey Coleman, RHP
Thomas Diamond, RHP
Jeff Kennard, RHP
Vince Perkins, RHP
Robinson Chirinos, C
Steve Clevenger, C
Blake Lalli, C
Chris Robinson, C
Darwin Barney, SS
Matt Camp, INF/OF
Starlin Castro, SS
Bryan LaHair, 1B
Chad Tracy, 3B/1B
Bobby Scales, INF/OF
Josh Vitters, 3B
Brett Jackson, OF
Brad Snyder, OF

Minor League 2010 Schedules
Iowa Cubs
Tennessee Smokies
Daytona Cubs
Peoria Chiefs
Boise Hawks (short season)

Lots of interesting names to follow that are on their way up in the Cubs system!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mid Week Roundup: Dawson's Cap, Cubs Spring Training, Adding to the Bench, and More

A lot has been going on this week around the word of the Chicago Cubs, so let's dive right into it!

Dawson to Enter Hall An Expo
As first reported early this morning by Fred Mitchell of the Tribune, Andre Dawson will enter the National Baseball Hall of fame as a Montreal Expo. The Hawk played 11 years in Montreal, but some of the most memorable years of his career were while sporting blue pinstripes. Andre said at the Cubs' Convention that he would prefer to enter as a Cub, but the Hall makes the final decision. While many Cub fans believe that Dawson should have been granted his wishes, Phil Rogers supports the Hall's decision. He will join Gary Carter as the only players to wear Expo hats on their plaques. Andre told Mitchell that he is disappointed by that decision.

Cubs To Stay In Mesa
It's official. The Chicago Cubs, as expected, made the announcement today that they will keep their Spring Training home in Mesa. Ricketts confirmed the deal to stay in the valley of the sun during an announcement at Arizona Capito today. Cub camp has been located in Arizona since 1952. A proposal that includes 100-plus acres called Wrigleyville West is possible. The Cubs decision is to stay, but this is dependent on a November referendum of voters in Mesa.

Nady Signs With Cubs (Pending Physical)
As posted yesterday, the Cubs are close to adding Xavier Nady to their outfield mix. Nady missed most of 2009 due to Tommy John surgery. The phsical that Xavier has to take could be more than a minor obstacle because of his recent health issues.

Cubs Ink Tracy to Minor League Deal
The Cubs have signed former Arizona D'backs' infielder Chad Tracy to the mix for bench spots in Spring Training. Chad has agreed to a minor league deal that includes an invite to big league camp. Here is some info on Tracy:
  • Full Name: Chad Austin Tracy
  • B/T: Left/Right
  • Drafted: in the 7th round of the 2001 amateur draft
  • MLB Debut: April 21, 2004
  • Teams: Arizona (2004-'09)
  • 2009 Stats: In 98 big league games, he hit .237 with a .306 OBP, 8 HR, and 39 RBIs.
  • Career Batting Average: .280 over 6 big league seasons
  • Age: 29
  • Career Games by Position: 3B (654), 1B (260), RF (47), DH (8), LF (7)

Cubs Avoid Arbitration with Marshall

Cubs' left handed hurler Sean Marshall has agreed to a 2010 contract with the club. The two sides will avoid arbitration. However, the Cubs still have two arb elgible guys that need to be locked up or else they will go to a hearing: Ryan Theriot and Carlos Marmol. Gordon Wittenmer tweets that Marshall will get $950,000 this year. Sean will compete for a spot in the starting rotation this spring.

Sheets Signs With Oakland

The Oakland Athletics have signed Ben Sheets to an $8 million deal. Sheets had been on the Cubs' radar, and many fans think the rehabbing righty would have been a nice add to our rotation. Jon Garland has signed a $4.7 million deal with the Padres, so you can scratch him off the Cubs' list as well.

Notes from Bruce Levine's Chat

Here's the link to Bruce's full chat from Tuesday, and I'll fully recap all the Cub info we gained right here:

  • Nady could overtake Kosuke as the starting right fielder, but unless the Cubs get another top of the order hitter it is unlikely that Fukudome will be benched.
  • Levine guesses that Milton Bradley will ask to leave the state of Washington by fall.
  • Prior management were the ones who dictated large, free agent signings to Hendry. Because of this, the Cubs do not have the money to add a starting pitcher.
  • Levine shockingly stated that he'd put his money on Ryan Theriot to be the Opening Day second baseman, with a good shot for Castro to make the team out of Spring Training.
  • Lou Piniella loves offense. If the Cubs' struggle to score runs early in the season, Nady will be given a chance in the starting lineup.
  • Rick Ankiel did not sign with the Cubs because they couldn't promise him regular playing time after adding Marlon Byrd.
  • The Cubs are out of money at this point, and any other deals will most likely be trades.
  • Jim Hendry will now turn his attention to the bullpen. A deal with San Diego for Luke Gregerson seems like a possibility.
  • Anything Carlos Silva does for the Cubs will be a bonus.
  • Even if Castro makes the team, putting him at the top of the order would be too much pressure for a 20 year old rookie.
  • Nady can play first base, so Hoffpauir could be on the bubble. Sam Fuld's status may also be affected by the signing.
  • Chad Tracy could be a plus because he is a left handed bat, and it is only a minor league contract. He may steal Hoffpauir's spot on the roster.
  • Jeff Gray and Esmalin Caridad will be in the mix as right handed set-up men, but Levine thinks Gregerson or Frasor would be better.
  • Strikeouts remain a problem for Hak-Ju Lee, but he is certainly on the fast track to the big leagues right now.
  • The Cubs do not have the money to sign Chan Ho Park.
  • Brett Jackson should be playing in the majors at some point.
  • The Padres have interest in getting Angel Guzman in return for Gregerson.
  • Guzman has a great arm and good stuff, but injuries are an issue.
  • Lou's future with the Cubs depends on the first couple months of this season.
  • Levine likes Randy Wells and his attitude. Wells is still eager to prove he belongs as a starting pitcher in the big leagues.
  • More announcements regarding improvements to Wrigley Field are expected to come in the near future.
  • When/if Lilly, Ramirez, and Lee leave, the Cubs will have $60M to spend on other guys.
  • Luke Gregerson could close if Marmol has a wild spell this season.
  • Josh Vitters is at least a year away.
  • The Ricketts family really love Derrek Lee. It is possible that he will sign an extension during the season.
  • Ryan Dempster will not return to closing in any situation. The Cubs are paying him to be in the rotation.

And lastly, former Cub Rich Hill has signed minor league deal with the division rival St. Louis Cardinals. The deal includes an invite to Spring Training in Florida.

That's it for now, but we'll see if the business of this week continues! I'll keep you posted!

2010 Cubs Spring Training Broadcast Schedule

Yesterday, the Cubs were very busy. In addition to adding a pair of bats to the bench, they released this year's Spring Training broadcast schedule on Here it is:
  • Thurs. March 4 VS A's: WGN Radio 2:05
  • Sat. March 6 VS CWS: WGN TV, WGN Radio 2:05
  • Sun. March 7 @CWS: WGN TV, WSCR 670 2:05
  • Mon. March 8 VS MIL: WGN Radio 2:05
  • Fri. March 12 VS CWS (in LV): CSN 9:05
  • Sat. March 13 @CWS (in LV): CSN, WSCR 3:05
  • Sun. March 14 @LAA: WGN 3:05
  • Tues. March 16 VS TEX: WGN Radio 3:05
  • Fri. March 19 @CWS: CSN, WGN Radio 3:05
  • Sat. March 20 VS KC: WGN Radio, 3:05
  • Sun. March 21 @CIN: WGN Radio, 3:05
  • Fri. March 26 VS Oak: WGN TV, WGN Radio 3:05
  • Sat. March 27 VS SD: WGN TV, WGN Radio 3:05
  • Thurs. April 1 VS COL: CSN, WGN Radio 3:05
  • Saturday April 3 @Ari (at Chase Field): WGN TV, WGN Radio 3:10

All time are Central. Click for full schedule. Many other games will be on Gameday audio on with the opponents' radio teams. Also, ESPN and MLB Network usually pick up a few Spring Training games.

More later!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cubs Close on Second Move of the Day

Bruce Levine reports that the Cubs will announce tomorrow that they've signed former D'backs infielder Chad Tracy to a minor league deal. Earlier, the Cubs inked Xavier Nady, scroll down for more on that.

Here's the link to Levine's post.

I'll update with more later.

Breaking News: Cubs Sign Xavier Nady

The Cubs have signed free agent outfielder Xavier Nady to a $3.3 million one year deal according to Jon Heyman's tweet. Nady could earn another $2 million based on games played.

No official press release is out as of now, but tells us that the deal is pending only a physical. Nady will add to the Cubs outfield depth, as most likely a 4th outfielder. He will serve a 4th outfielder, seeing most of his action in right field to spell left handed hitting Kosuke Fukudome.

With this signing, the Cubs are possibly only one bullpen arm away from being ready to go to camp. This move also makes it unlikely that fan favorite Reed Johnson will be resign. Nady brings more power, to add some pop to a bench that is much in need of power. Now the Cubs outfield is set. Expect Soriano, Kosuke, Byrd, Nady, Sam Fuld, and Micah Hoffpauir to all see time out there this year.

Here the info on the newest Chicago Cub:
  • Full Name: Xavier Clifford Nady
  • Born: November 14, 1978 in Carmel, California
  • B/T: Right/Right
  • College: University of California
  • Drafted: by the Padres in the 2nd round of the 2000 draft
  • MLB Debut: September 30, 2000 for the Padres
  • Teams: Padres (2000-'05), Mets (2006), Pirates ('06-'08), and Yankees ('08-'09).
  • Played in just 7 games (.286 AVG) in 2009 because of the second Tommy John surgery of his career
  • 31 Years old
  • Career Games By Position: RF (410), 1B (205), LF (100), CF (45), DH (12), 3B (3)
  • Career .280 batting average, 87 home runs, 325 RBIs, and a .335 OBP in 8 big league seasons.

More on the signing as I get it!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

A Little Baseball Before the Football

Let's catch up on the latest Cubs rumors and news from this weekend!:
  • Cubs infielder Jeff Baker is prepared to win a starting job in camp.
  • The people in Florida still feel that Naples is in the running for Cubs Spring Training, even though most sources are reporting that the Cubs will stay in Mesa.
  • Jose Contreras is close to signing with the Phillies. reports that the Cubs had interest in the former White Sox righty.
  • Jayson Stark thinks the Cubs have set aside their interest in Ben Sheets, because they are more in need of a bench bat and a setup man.
  • Jon Heyman reports that if Johnny Damon doesn't resign with New York, the Yanks would then ink someone off the remaining list of free agent outfielders. Once the Damon situation is resolved, things could fall in to place for the Cubs outfield.
  • Phil Rogers wonders if Derrek Lee will be finding a new home after this season.
  • In Spring Training, one of the battles that will be really fun to watch is for spots in the starting rotation. Dave van Dyck breaks down the four candidates- Silva, Samardzija, Gorzeallany, and Marshall- that will be competing for two spots.
  • Jim Edmonds is interested in playing in 2010, after sitting out the '09 season. Phil Rogers and I agree that the Cubs should pursue the veteran center fielder, who played very well for the Cubs in 2008.
  • Rogers added in the same article that he mentioned Edmonds, that nothing has been decided as to which cap Andre Dawson will wear when he is inducted into the Hall of Fame next July. Phil says that if the decision was in the hands of MLB, it would be a "slam dunk" for the Cubs, but unfortunately the HOF get the final say.
  • So Taguchi, who appeared in only 6 games for the Cubs last season, has signed to play in Japan this season.
  • Mark Gonzales of the Tribune reports that the Cubs have been invited to watch reliever Oscar Villarreal, who underwent reconstructive elbow surgery in April of 2009, pitch. If healthy, Oscar could be a nice piece to add to the Cubs' bullpen.
  • David Kaplan of WGN Radio says that Jonny Gomes is the Cubs first choice to add as a fourth outfielder right now.

That's it for now, I'll keep you posted as Spring Training quickly approaches!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Cubs Convention Recaps: The Day in the Life of a Major Leaguer

John Williams of WGN Radio hosted this session with guests Bobby Dernier, Jody Davis, Geovany Soto, and Jeff Samardzija to talk about the life of a professional baseball player. Here is the full recap of the session, which was a week ago today:
  • Geovany confirmed that he has lost 40 pounds this offseason. (Some sites had reported 80)
  • He was a little disappointed with '09 and is ready to get off on the right foot in 2010.
  • Soto says that if being too light becomes a problem in the summer, gaining weight is the easy part.
  • The winter has been great for The Shark thus far. He's been watching some football this offseason.
  • Jeff is a big Bears fan, and he admitted that he'd love to help him out. He loves where he's at and what he does, so no change is on the way.
  • Samardzija usually cuts his hair around Spring Training.
  • Jody said that it's hard for people to understand how time consuming and grueling the life of a major league baseball player can be.
  • You spent 24 hours a day trying to get ready for game time. When the game's over, there's not a hole lot of down time until you have to get ready for the next game.
  • Dernier says that each year you go through the grind, you become more accustomed to it.
  • When Bobby and Jody played, guys took lots of time off in the winter. Now a days, baseball is all year around.
  • On the road, players get cash to spend on food and expenses.
  • On the plane, the guys use the money to bet some money.
  • Davis is not a card player, but Bobby enjoys to play cards.
  • Jeff said that in baseball, you are allowed more freedom than football players.
  • Current players can't go out and have fun after games because of cell phone cameras. Bobby said that guys could go out a lot more when he played.
  • Soto said that you kind of get tired of the people wanting your autograph every where you go, but when you think about it that's a really cool feeling.
  • Samardzija says that he loves Chicago because people are great. He lives in the city, and everyone is nice in public. This city is very respectable. Jeff has been other places where people are not like that.
  • Soto is fine with people asking him for an autograph or picture in public, but he thinks people should be understanding if he doesn't have time.
  • Jeff also has no problem with signing autographs.
  • Geo says in 2008 he felt like a rock star. He said the Cub fans are "true, loyal, and the best fans in the world."
  • Shark doesn't mind being booed.
  • Dernier says that when he played there was not as much booing.
  • Davis said that there was no booing when they were stinking because there was nobody there.
  • Bobby said that people mostly boo because of lack of effort. If you give a good effort at Wrigley, you will not get booed that much.
  • Jody could see where Mark McGuire wanted to get the situation off his chest, but a lot of the things he said like "it didn't help" and "I didn't know it would make me stronger" doesn't seem true.
  • Dernier says that amphetamines were prevalent in baseball during his era. Today, guys are more educated on what not to do.
  • Samardzija says they have unlimited amounts of totally random testing for steroids.
  • Geo wanted to lose some weight because he was starting to feel wear and tear on his knees.
  • Jeff usually cleans his hair with whatever they have in the hotel.
  • Soto thinks that you have to hit the gym more after catching 9 inning, you will feel better late in the season. Instead of resting after games, it's better to flush them out.
  • Davis said that having your legs in shape and strong is the best thing you can do as a catcher.
  • The best thing for a pitcher to keep your arm in shape, is to do some cardio and running the next day.
  • Soto doesn't think at all about how it costs him money when he does bad. For him, it more about pride. He was born to win.
  • Geovany said you always want to play good for the fans everyday.
  • Shark says it's a "balancing act". It's amazing to find people who still act the same after making all the money. For Samardzija, "the better you play, the more you get payed" works as a good incentive.
  • Samardzija feels like he has a long way to go. He's happy that he's in the situation where he can just worry about getting better and see how things go.
  • Jody thinks that one of the incredible things about the 1984 team was that the team truly got along on and off the field. Ryno and Hawk had amazing work ethics and served as quiet team leaders similar to Derrek Lee.
  • Jeff said that a lot of guys on the current team came through the system together as good friends and teammates. He called the "ra-ra leader guy with pump up speeches" B.S., and would rather have a guy like D-Lee lead the team.
  • Geo liked a fans idea of making a Soto workout DVD to help people lose wait.
  • Samardzija is excited about how things are going, and he's very happy with his situation. He's looking forward to having a chance to win a spot in the starting rotation.
  • On October 19, Soto started training. Once he started eating better, the pounds started coming off. He stuck with the diet for 3 1/2 months.
  • Geovany just got tired of hearing about his weight. He's a professional athlete, so he decided he wanted to look like a pro athlete.
  • Soto hasn't worked out that much this winter, the weight loss came totally from eating right.
  • Samardzija likes visits from Geo and Koyie on the mound. It's fun because you never know what you're going to get when they go out there.
  • Lou is very "to the point" when he comes out to the mound.
  • Jody says that the biggest thing as a catcher is to know your pitching staff. Certain guys need to calm down, but others need to get pumped up.
  • Soto has never asked for a day off. Even if you can barely stand up, if Lou asks if you can go today, you say yes.
  • Good footwork is key for a catcher to get the ball to second base better. Geo suggested practicing in front of a mirror to a young softball player. Davis added that long toss could help to make your arm stronger.
  • Soto is happy that he doesn't have to hit against Zambrano.
  • Jeff thinks he can handle any hitter, but guys that are very good at making last second adjustments are tough.
  • The first day Shark was called up, he struck out the first batter on an inside fastball and was like, "Wow, that was awesome." In the second inning, he throw a great pitch, but Cantu (of the Marlins) nailed it down the line.
  • Dernier thinks the Blackhawks are looking good. "Get ready to party with the Hawks," he said.
  • When Williams asked how many games the Cubs would win this year, Bobby got the last words of the session saying, "Just win the last one."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Mesa it Is!! (Spring Training Talk and More)

It is all but settled that Chicago Cubs Spring Training will remain in the valley of the sun for years to come. The team intends to keep their Spring Training facilities in Mesa, Arizona pending rather than move to Naples, Florida after the current contract with Mesa. The decision to stay is pending a vote by the Mesa city council, which will take place Monday night to improve the team's Cactus League facility.

David Kaplan and the Chicago Tribune reported this story first today, then Bruce Levine added that the new facilities will most likely be 7-8 miles east of the current Cub spring home, HoHoKam Park. If Arizona cannot come up with the money for this project, the Cubs are expected to resume talks with Naples. The new state of the art stadium will include a Wrigleyville atmosphere and and a 15,000-18,000 capacity, which would make it the largest Spring Training park.

The East Valley Tribune's full coverage.

While we're talking about Cubs' Spring Training, let's take a look at WGN Radio's 2010 Spring Training broadcast schedule. Cubs Central Pregame starts 35 minutes prior the the first pitch of each game, and all times are central:
  • Thursday March 4 VS Oakland 2:05
  • Saturday March 6 VS White Sox 2:05
  • Tuesday March 9 VS Milwaukee 2:05
  • Tuesday March 16 VS Texas 3:05
  • Friday March 19 @White Sox 3:05
  • Saturday March 20 VS Kansas City 3:05
  • Sunday March 21 @Reds 3:05
  • Friday March 26 VS Oakland 3:05
  • Saturday March 27 VS San Diego 3:05
  • Thursday April 1 VS Rockies 3:05
  • Saturday April 3 @Arizona @Chase Field 3:10

According to Bruce Miles, the Cubs have signed catcher Mark Johnson and third baseman Scott McClain to minor league deals with invites to Spring Training. Johnson was in Cubs' Spring Training last year, and ended up playing in 22 games at AAA Iowa. Mark was drafted by the White Sox organization and has spent time in the big leagues. This won't be the first trip to Mesa for McClain either. Scott has been in Spring Training with the Cubs before, and he saw 13 games with them during the 2005 regular season, going 2-14. After playing in the Giants organization for a few years, he played in Japan for most of '09. As a backup third baseman, he could make the club if he plays well in camp.

More Rumor Updates:

  • Paul Sullivan reports that the Cubs have an eye on free agent outfielder Jonny Gomes.
  • The Sun-Times says that they've contacted Gomes.
  • The Cubs are also interested in Jermaine Dye, Reed Johnson, and Rick Ankiel and Xavier Nady.
  • The Padres and Blue Jays are dangling relievers that the Cubs have interest in. Levine says that the Padres might talk to the Cubs about closer Heath Bell, while Luke Gregorson and Blue Jay Jason Frasor have also been discussed.

Please vote on our new poll on the right sidebar (yes, finally it's up!). We're close to finishing off our Cubs' all decade team, so we encourage everyone to vote on the best Cub closers of the last decade. I included all guys that had 5 or more saves as choices. Thanks to everyone who voted on the last poll.

Speaking of the right sidebar, notice that our countdown has been change from the Cubs Convention, to the day Pitchers and Catchers report. As of now, the start of the baseball season is just 27 days, 14 hours, 57 minutes and 20 seconds away- 19, 18, 17...

Baseball is right around the corner!

Mid-Week Cubbie Quick Hits

It's been awhile since we checked the rumor mill, so here's the latest.

  • On Tuesday, the Cubs signed 5 players to one year extentions, avoiding arbitration with Mike Fontenot, Koyie Hill, Tom Gorzelanny, Angel Guzman, and Jeff Baker. Ryan Theriot, Carlos Marmol, and Sean Marshall have yet to reacher agreements with the Cubs. If the Cubs cannot come to terms with these players, than they will have to go to an arbitration hearing, which will be held February 1-21. The Cubs have not gone to a hearing since Mark Grace in 1993.
  • Carrie Muskat reports that the Cubs are looking at Jermaine Dye and Xavier Nady as possible fourth outfielders.
  • The Cubs are in negotiations with reliever Kiko Caleron, according to a report from Jon Paul Morosi. Caleron is seeking a 2 year deal, but so far the Cubs have only offered him one year.
  • The Cubs were on there to see Ben Sheets throw on Monday. A source out of Toronto reported that Sheets was "all but signed" by the Cubs, but that rumored appeared to be false. None the less, the Cubs are one of 8 teams with real interest in the right hander.
  • Click here to see a video of Sheet's bullpen and his interview with MLB Network afterwards.
  • The Cubs are taking a look at free agent left Mark Mulder according to FOXSports.
  • Bruce Levine blogs that Padres pitcher Luke Gregerson could be a fit for the Cubs bullpen.
  • Ryan Theriot is asking for $3.4 million, while the Cubs are offering $2.6 million. Bruce Miles speculates that this one could go to a hearing.

Let's turn our attention to the always informative Bruce Levine chat on Here are the highlights from Tuesday:

  • Levine likes Jeff Baker better than Fontenot as a starter.
  • Randy Wells is working hard to make sure there's no sophomore jinx for him.
  • The Cubs would be much stronger defensively with Theriot at 2B and Starlin Castro at SS. Ryan is ready to make that move if the team asks him to.
  • If Rick Ankiel's stock continues to fall, the Cubs will consider signing him.
  • The Cubs are still looking at San Diego and Toronto relievers.
  • Levine thinks Dye would be perfect for the Cubs.
  • Jermaine is a terrific clubhouse guy.
  • If ownership has any say so, former Cubs from the '80s and '90s will be favored for positions on the coaching staff after Lou is out.
  • Hendry will be creative in shelling out money to free agents, so that he is able to bring in all the pieces that he needs.
  • Orlando Hudson really faded last year, to the point where he lost his job in LA.
  • It doesn't appear that many other clubs have made money offers to Dye.
  • The Cubs have fielder offers for Angel Guzman, because they are worried about his health.
  • Orlando Cabrera is not a bad idea, but the money would be a factor.
  • Next offseason, the Cubs will start major renovations at Wrigley.
  • As far as the Cubs outfield, the priority at the moment is Dye.
  • Not much is expected from Carlos Silva.
  • Geovany Soto is not at the perfect weight for him to start the season.
  • Pedro Martinez is not on the Cubs' radar.
  • The Cubs will NOT consider shopping Jeff Samardzija at this point.
  • Helping Alfonso Soriano was one of the main reasons Rudy Jaramillo was hired.
  • Bob Brenly will be in the Cubs' booth for a long time, unless he gets that managers job he wants.
  • Bruce doesn't see Andres Blanco as an every day player.
  • The Cubs will have a better idea of how much money is left to spend after they sign Theriot, Marshall, and Marmol.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Cubs Convention Recaps: You Think You Know These Guys?

For the next week our two, I will continue my full recap of the Cubs Convention. Today, we focus on the "You Think You Know These Guys?" session hosted by Garry Meier of WGN Radio. Garry was joined by Ryan Dempster, Ryan Theriot, Micah Hoffpauir, Sam Fuld, and Justin Berg to find a little bit about the personal side of your favorite Cubs.
  • Meier first realized what Cub national is really like when he sang the 7th inning stretch last summer.
  • He told a story about when he was a journalist was assigned to take a blind sportscaster to the game. He didn't know much about the Cubs, so he was a little nervous. When he went in the locker room to interview Ron Santo, he didn't know who Ron was.
  • Ryan Theriot would have pursued a career in modeling if he did not become a pro baseball player.
  • Sam Fuld says that when you run into the wall at Wrigley, the pain it depend on what time of year it is.
  • Dempster feel that guys on steroids are cheating everyone who's ever played the game of Major League Baseball.
  • Fuld thinks that Fenway and Wrigley "are in a league of their own" as far as baseball ballparks because of all the history and tradition.
  • "If you can't get excited to play at Wrigley, then it's hard to get excited to play anywhere," Fuld said.
  • The law of averages say that sooner or later, the World Series is going to happen according to Theriot.
  • Ryan Dempster said it took him about 35 minutes to get from the front desk to the elevator because of all the autographs. If the Cubs win the World Series, Demp thinks the players will need to be air lifted out of Wrigley.
  • Justin said after the game a lot of guys like to just go out and get some dinner. Berg likes to play guitar or catch a movie in his free time on the road.
  • Being superstitious was discussed. Some of the guys like to wear the same clothes the next day when the team wins.
  • Dempster's daughter Riley is doing very good.
  • Ryan warms up with some light weights, running, and stretching before he starts to throw. This helps be able to get ready throwing quicker.
  • Demp told about (once again) the prank the he did for MLB productions a few year back when he hid Will Ohman's tires around the ballpark.
  • Fontenot and Theriot are pretty close. They go to each other's house a lot and hang out. In the offseason they hunt and fish together. Ryan feels like he's baby sitting Mike sometimes.
  • Milton Bradley was mentioned at almost every session during the weekend. Hoffpauir didn't have much of a problem with Bradley, calling him a pretty good dude.
  • Dempster did one of his great Harry Caray impersonations. Ryan loved watch Harry calling Cub games.
  • Justin Berg plans to stick with what has got him to wear he is in Spring Training. He plans to throw strikes and get ahead in the count.
  • Micah looks up to Derrek Lee calling him one of the more respectable players in the game today.
  • The players try to ignore most of the Internet and blog rumors. They try to stay away from all the rumors out there because they can only control their play on the field.
  • Dempster thinks that the new ownership is great. The Ricketts want excellence and excellence all the way around. Improving the facilities is OK right now, because the Cubs already have the team to win.
  • Ryan has a good time with the rookie hazing. When Demp was a rookie with Florida, he was put in diapers and a bib. Hoffpauir was pork the pig, Berg was superwomen, Fuld was Mrs. American, and Theriot was a cheerleader.
  • Jake Fox sulked after being dressed up. Then the guys put a Sponge Bob outfit in his locker after a big home run.
  • Dempster never got a cool nickname growing up. He was always just Demp or R.D.
  • Theriot gave himself a nickname last week when he was hunting and he missed a dear twice. Ryan thinks his new nickname should be the barber because he shaves the dear but doesn't kill it.
  • Sam Fuld was a little upset (jokingly) when a lady told him that Randy Wells signed over his autograph.
  • Theriot says that the energy playing at Wrigley Field is like nothing else because of the fans.
  • The Riot would love to be a Cub for the rest of his career. He can't see himself playing anywhere else.
  • Hoffpauir would like to make a living via hunting or business. Berg would probably be playing in a band. Fuld thinks being a flower delivery guy would be fun, because everyone would probably like you, and it would be a low stress job.
  • Demp believes that the pro baseball players have the best job in the world. When you have families, it gets hard during the regular season. The team spends most of their off days travelling. You just have to try to make most of the time you spend at home.
  • Micah thinks you get used to the day games. When you're done with a day game, you get home by 6:00 and have a chance to spend some time with your family.
  • Theriot thinks it's an advantage for the Cubs because they get used to it, while the visiting teams do not.
  • Hoffpauir goes by the motto that his dad told him when he was growing up, "If you don't enjoy what you're doing, then don't do it." Micah says he doesn't play for the money, but because he enjoys it.
  • Dempster says the most fun he has all season is facing Albert Pujols because of the challenge.
  • Theriot thinks that it's a good idea to have the mental part of the game involved in your everyday preparation because of the 162 game grind.
  • A lot of the guys love the heckling and think it's fun.
  • Dempster thinks you hear the heckling a lot more as an away player. Demp likes heckling only when it is clean.
  • When Theriot made an error at LSU, a fan threw a boot on the field.
  • When Demp played in Florida, you could really hear the heckling because there were only about 4,000 fans.
  • Dempster got the chance to play soccer, basketball, baseball, and hockey growing up.
  • Theriot says that as minor leaguers, you go into Spring Training hoping to catch some body's eye. Ryan's goal has always been to work harder than the guy next to him.
  • Sam's favorite movie is "Field of Dreams". He is a little biased being a baseball fan, but he said that it's "not just a baseball movie".
  • Justin Berg likes Old School, while Hoffpauir mentioned The Notebook.
  • Hoff said that when you miss a good pitch that you should do something with at the big league level, it's frustrating. You don't get a lot of mistakes in the bigs, so you try to take advantage of it whenever you can.
  • In 3rd grade, Hoffpauir put on his career goals list that he wanted to be a professional baseball player. The teacher came over and said, "Really, what do you want to be." He showed her.
  • Bringing in Greg Maddux to the front office staff was the best Cubs offseason move so far according to Demp.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

A Letter from Tom Ricketts

I plan on having more updates later, but we'll start today's posting off by continued our Cubs Convention coverage with the letter from Tom Ricketts, the new chairman of the Chicago Cubs, which was printed in this year's handbook/guide to the 25th annual Cubs Convention.

Dear Cubs Convention Attendees:

On behalf of the Ricketts family and the entire Chicago Cubs organization, welcome to the 25th annual Cubs Convention. It has been a whirlwind three years for our family and the Cubs as we became stewards of our beloved team and treasured ballpark. As we look ahead to the 2010 season and beyond, we are excited about what is in store for our franchise.

Our goal is simple... to win, and to win consistently. As Cubs fans, we all strive a championship. We plan to work hard everyday to reach the top, to be the best team and strongest organization in all of baseball. We also understand, as all Cubs fans do, the unique magic of Wrigley Field. We look forward to preserving that magic and doing whatever we can to improve the overall experience of seeing a Cubs game at The Friendly Confines. Welcome your observations and encourage raised expectations.

This year's Convention marks and incredible milestone... 25 year of Cubs fans coming out in the middle of winter to celebrate and show their love for the Chicago Cubs. We have a great weekend planned with some of your favorite current and former players in attendance and several exciting new features in store for your. Proceeds from the convention benefit Cubs Care, a fund of the McCormick Foundation, and we are extremely proud of the work we do along with the McCormick Foundation to help give back to our community.

Thank you for your dedication to this franchise. Once again in 2009, the Chicago Cubs drew more than three million fans. We are the only Chicago professional sports team to ever reach three million in attendance and are one of only five teams in Major League Baseball to have reach that mark in each of the last six seasons. This is a remarkable accomplishment and reinforces what we already knew: Cubs fans are the best fans in all of baseball!

We are excited about all that lies ahead and we truly appreciate your continued support. Go Cubs!


Tom Ricketts

More Convention stuff as well as other Cubs notes in the next few days.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

What a Weekend!

Wow, was that fun! The 25th annual mid-winter gathering of Cub diehards at the Hilton and Towers took place from Friday night until this morning.

This was my second year at the "Unofficial Opening Day", and it was just flat out amazing. On this post, I will simply share some of my experiences from Saturday and Sunday (I blogged on Day 1 on Friday night, but unfortunately did not get the chance to get a post up last night). In addition, I will fill you in on some of the big news of the weekend. The rest of the information I learned at the sessions will be posted throughout the week.

One of the most written and blogged about bits of news this weekend was the fact that former NL Rookie of the Year Geovany Soto lost a stunning 40 pounds this winter. He is expected to bounce back after a disappointing sophomore campaign. Stud pitcher Carlos Zambrano also dropped significant weight.

Saturday morning, I woke up early, got a muffin down at the breakfast line, and then headed down to the grand ballroom for the "Meet the Ricketts" session. This hour was Cubs fans first chance to address the new owners of their favorite ballclub. Tom, Laura, Todd, and Pete all answered most of the questions directly and did a great job. The Ricketts made it clear that they would like Wrigley Field to host to 2014 All Star game, but that decision will fall upon the shoulders of Major League Baseball.

The second session of the day was "Meet Cubs Baseball Management". This yearly segment always gives us a chance to get real insight to the team. Lou Piniella revealed that most likely his team will look like this defensively on Opening Day:
LF Soriano
CF Byrd
RF Kosuke
1B Lee
2B Baker or Fontenot
3B Ramirez
SS Theriot
C Soto

Piniella also announced this weekend that Marlon Byrd will receive a good look in the 5th spot in the lineup behind Lee and Ramirez. As of now, Koske and Theriot will be 1 and 2 in the Cub batting order, but Piniella has yet to decide which one will lead off.

I continued to bounce around at 11, when I hit my 3rd different ballroom in as many hours. The "Call to the 'Pen" sessions was all about what it's like to be a major league reliever. Former Cub lefty and current broadcaster Dave Otto chatted with relievers Tom Gorzelanny, John Grabow, Jeff Samardzija, Sean Marshall, and Carlos Marmol. The lefty dominated session (4 of 6 counting Otto), was of course a little quirky, and included some great info and a lot of fun. The room was a little smaller for this session, but afterwards the workers did a great job organization a line for autographs instead of allowing the usual stampede.

After learning about life in the 'pen, I travelled to the already-in-progress "Leaders in the Clubhouse". During this Question and Answer, former World Series winning manager (2001 was mentioned several times this weekend by him by the way) Bob Brenly talked with Sweet Lou and his full coaching staff. Cub fans (who were allowed to ask questions for at least a half an hour at most sessions) made it clear that they (we) would welcome Piniella back for a 4th season in 2011. Lou is still undecided, and wants to remain focused on 2010, however he did mention that there were several coaches on his staff who would make good successors (he didn't name names, but maybe Alan, Mike Quade, and DeJesus).

Next I took a break from sessions to stand in line for my Carlos Zambrano autograph, which I won via scratch off. Big Z told me that he plans on winning 20 games this year!

As soon as the long line for Z was over, I returned to the Grand Ballroom for the "Cubs Jeopardy" session, which was my personal favorite of the weekend. Baseball trivia buff (and voice of the Cubs on WGN Radio) Pat Hughes served as host, with Dave Otto filling the role of judge. This year they change things up and pitted the pitchers against the position players, instead of the usual era VS era matchup. Jeff Baker, Micah Hoffpauir, Jay Johnstone, and Gary Matthews battled Tim Stoddard, Randy Wells, John Grabow, and Milton Pappas. Both team bet all their points in the final jeopardy, and both teams got the question correct (who was the 2009 World Series MVP?). Therefore, the pitchers, who led prior to the final jeopardy, took home the win. Hughes and Otto do a great job at hosting this session each year.

The final session of the day was the "For Kids Only Press Conference". Sam Fuld, Tyler Colvin, Marlon Byrd, Ted Lilly, and Sean Marshall field questions from the youngsters which ranged from "What's your favorite candy bar?" to "Did you like Milton Bradley?" Unexpectedly, this session ended up providing some good info, as a lot of the kids asked great questions. All five of the guys on the pannel said that they would prefer Spring Training to remain in Mesa. Lilly and Byrd have both trained in Florida and Arizona, and both prefer the dessert.

Saturday morning provided a few final sessions- the last one regarding the Cubs farm system. I will recap those later in the week.

The last thing I want to point out it that I didn't stand in a single autograph line the entire weekend (besides Zambrano, who was a lottery auto) and I still got signatures from Bobby Dernier, Lou Piniella, Marlon Byrd, Ted Lilly, Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol, Jeff Samardzija, Micah Hoffpauir, John Grabow, Dave Otto, Randy Wells, Keith Moreland, Ryan Dempster, Andrew Cashner, Jay Johnstone, Crane Kenney, Pat Hughes, Tom Ricketts, Len Kasper, Ivan DeJesus, Koyie Hill, Jeff Baker, Tim Stoddard, Jim Aducci, and Tom Gorzelanny. The point is, you do not have to wait in line for hours for autographs, you will see them around the hotel and after sessions.

I will continue blogging about the Cubs Convention all week, along with keeping you posted on Everything Cubs as always!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Day 1 at the Hilton

Just finished the first day of the Cubs Convention here at the Hilton Chicago. Wow, what a day!

After checking in, getting my full schedule of events and convention pass, winning the autograph scratch off (Carlos Zambrano!), and grabbing my two Cubs grab bags ($30 each- one included an autograph, Andrew Cashner, other stuff in the bag included a Cubs lunch pail, notebook, 2009 Cubs media guide, a stuffed animal, Cubs believe bracelet, some pencils, t-shirts, and hats/visors) I moved on to the Opening Ceremonies in the Grand Ball Room.

The ceremonies were great. They are always my favorite part of the amazing weekend. Pat Hughes, the voice of the Cubs, came to the mic and said the words we've been waiting all winter to hear, "Chicago Cubs baseball is on the air!" Then, the Ricketts family was introduced. Tom said that he and his siblings are looking forward to Opening Day. Up next, Wayne Messmer performed his booming rendition of the National Antheme. Finally, the large crowd got to meet the Cubs of year's past. Pat introduced all of those guys, but then asked, "Are you ready to meet some legends?" before announcing the bad news, that Ron Santo is a little under the weather. Ronny wrote a great letter to the fans, which Pat read. Other "legends" introduced include Billy Williams, Ernie Banks, Ryne Sandberg, Fergie Jenkins, and lastly the newest member of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, Andre Dawson. After the former Cubs were out, Hughes read the names of the 2010 Cubbies. Crane Kenney and Jim Hendry received mixed reactions, but most of the other guys got nice cheers. Carlos Zambrano, the last Cub introduced, received one of the biggest and loudest rounds of applause of the night. The Ricketts family received the honor of tossing out this year's ceremonial first pitches. Next, WGN-TV unveiled their annual video. This year the highlights of 2009 were followed by highlights of the Ricketts press conference, Andre Dawson's HOF announcement, highlights of the first 25 Cubs Conventions, and finally the 2009 Take Me Out to the Ballgame reel. The singing of Go Cubs Go, for the first time of hopefully many in 2010.

On the way out of the Opening Ceremonies, we received an autograph treasure hunt map. The treasure hunt was fun! I got Dempster, Dernier, Johnstone, Cashner, & Moreland, among others, to ink their name.

Day one concluded with "Sports Central Live" hosted by David Kaplan, which was live on WGN Radio. Kap, who had a scratchy throat due to illness, brought in co-host Ryan Theriot, who doubles as the Cubs starting short stop. The two hour program was very interesting and entertaining. Guests included Dempster, Lilly, Sutcliffe, Ricketts, Hendry, Fleita, Lou, Jaramillo, Rothschild, and Marlon Byrd. Marlon showed up late, but made up for it by staying late after the session (which was the last of the show) to sign autographs for many fans. Byrd gave me a good first impression by signing a lot and chatting with me and other fans. I'll have a full recap of the Sports Central show next week!

What a day! And it's just the start.... tomorrow will be a full day of Q&A sessions!

I'll have another recap up tomorrow night!

Friday Quick Hits: Time for the Convention, CTL Recaps, and More

The Cubs Convention starts tonight at 5:30 with the Opening Ceremonies!

Len Kasper was on Chicago Tribune Live with David Kaplan on Tuesday:

  • The top of the rotation is good with Dempster and Zambrano.
  • Kasper would like to think that Randy Wells will avoid the sophomore slump.
  • Anything you get from Carlos Silva is gravy.
  • Ben Sheets is intriguing and one of the best in the league if he's healthy.
  • The Lilly injury is a little troubling.
  • Kasper thinks Marlon Byrd will be fine. Defensively he's good in center, his bat is fine, and by all accounts he's a great guy in the clubhouse.
  • The theme for this team going into Spring Training is guys needing bounce back years. Len listed Soto, Soriano, and Ramirez as guys that need to come back strong.
  • Hendry may not have that much money left to spend, but there's still a lot of guys out there looking for work that you may be able to sign for cheap.
  • Starlin Castro may be on the way, and that would allow the Cubs to move Theriot to short.
  • Ben Sheets is "very smart pitcher" with a "bulldog mentality".
  • Sheets doesn't have the long history of arm trouble like Harden has.

Koyie Hill chatted with the guys on CTL on Wednesday:

  • Hill expects the Cubs fans to be there for them win, lose, or draw.
  • The guys are looking forward to Spring Training.
  • Adding Greg Maddux to the team will help everyone, not just pitchers.
  • "There's so much information you can get from anyone with that much experience," Hill said of Greg.
  • The only thing that Koyie thinks was disappointing about the 2009 season was the health of the team.
  • The strength of the Cubs is still their starting pitching.
  • Koyie called the Cubs' staff "a treat to work with".
  • Going on the Cubs Caravan is a treat for the players. The players get inspired by the people at the hospitals, schools, and Boys and Girls clubs.

Ryan Theriot was Thursday's guest on the program:

  • Theriot is very excited to get to Spring Training.
  • Ryan enjoys coaching kids in the batting cage.
  • He is excited about bringing Rudy Jaramillo and Marlon Byrd into the Cubs' clubhouse.
  • Last year the Cubs had a great club, and things would have been different had they stayed healthy.
  • Taking one guy away and adding one guy can make a big difference.
  • Theriot thinks Ben Sheets would be a great add to the clubhouse. Ryan would welcome Ben with open arms.
  • The Matt Holiday signing surprised Ryan.
  • Chris Carpenter is tough to face for a hitter.
  • Kaplan thinks the biggest mistake in the 2008 playoffs was not getting Ted Lilly a start.
  • Ryan is comfortable playing second base. If Castro comes up to the big leagues, Theriot would be willing to move.
  • Theriot played left field during the Cubs 2007 Opening Day game.
  • Last year on the first day of Spring Training, a bunch of guys were eating some food at a table together in the clubhouse, but Milton Bradley chose to eat in the corner by himself. From that point forward, the Cubs knew Bradley was a bit of a loner.
  • "It wasn't a great fit for either side," Ryan said of Milton.
  • Theriot thinks that Jeff Samardzija has a big time arm, Marshall is consistent, and Gorzelanny did a good job last year. That mix should be enough for the back end of the starting 5.
  • Phil Rogers points out that Ted Lilly could be one of those guys that's most appreciated when he's gone.
  • Lilly has played through injuries that nobody knew about. The players appreciate when I guy gives everything he has.
  • When asked who the Cubs team leader was, Ryan didn't hesitate in answering "D-Lee."
  • Theriot called Lee a silent force, and says he takes the term "lead by example" to another level.
  • Knowing that he will be the lead-off man going into Spring Training will change his approach this spring.
  • Leading off fits Ryan a little better.
  • Theriot likes to just "go". He has a problem conserving enegery.
  • The Cubs team has the ability to steal bases.
  • Ryan thinks this could be a big break out year for Mike Fontenot.

Frankie O. from Harry Caray's restaurant came on the show and listed 5 reasons the Cubs will win the World Series:

  • 5. Ricketts family ownership
  • 4. Mark McGwire's admission
  • 3. Harry Caray's Restaurant
  • 2. No More Milton
  • 1. Because Next Year is Here

Time for me to head out to the Hilton for this weekend's Cubs Convention! I'll have my laptop with me, so I'll be blogging from the Convention throughout the weekend. Email at if you have any questions or comments!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cub Pre-Convention Roundup: Non Roster Guys, The Caravan, the Bullpen, and More

Non Roster Invites
The full list of Chicago Cubs non roster invites to Spring Training was released today. In addition to everyone on the 40 man roster, to following prospects will be in camp to try to impress manager Lou Piniella and his staff:
  • Josh Vitters, 3B
  • Andrew Cashner, RHP
  • Brett Jackson, OF
  • J.R. Mathes, LHP
  • James Russell, LHP
  • Casey Coleman, RHP
  • Thomas Diamond, RHP
  • Jeff Kennard, RHP
  • Vince Perkins, RHP
  • Robinson Chirinos, C
  • Steve Clevenger, C
  • Blake Lalli, C/1B
  • Chris Robinson, C
  • Darwin Barney, SS
  • Matt Camp, INF/OF
  • Starlin Castro, SS
  • Bryan LaHair, 1B
  • Bobby Scales, 2B/3B
  • Brad Snyder, OF

Cubs Caravan Updates

The Cubs Caravan got underway today. Carrie Muskat provided us with some updated, include the info that Lou Piniella expects the Cubs to win the division. The team is still looking for a veteran right handed reliever and a 4th outfielder, but outside of that Lou feels the Cubs are "pretty set to go". Today Caravan stops included 4 schools for the Cubs Spotlight on Ready, 1 Boys & Girls clubs for the P.L.A.Y. program, a hospital visit, and the sold out Cubs Care Luncheon. Bruce Miles was at Harry Caray's for the lunch, and blogged on it afterwards. Randy Bush, Cubs assistant GM, told Miles that the Cubs haven't ruled out resigning Reed Johnson. I'll have more on the caravan as it continues tomorrow!

Coaching Swap

According to, Ivan DeJesus will serve as the Cubs first base coach in 2010. Matt Sinatro, who was the first base coach, will fill the role that DeJesus previously held as an assistant to Lou Piniella. Matt will still work with Cub catcher, but now will also be involved with the advance scouting reports.

Lilly Injury Update

Cubs lefty Ted Lilly could throw while in Chicago. Mark O'Neal checked up on Ted recently and Lary Rothschild hopes to see him pitch while they are in town for the Convention.

Updates from the Owners Meetings

According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs will decide on either Naples or Mesa next week. They are looking a 3 sites in Florida and two in Naples. Levine chatted with Crane Kenney about the situation. Jim Hendry told Bruce that his time was well spent at the meetings, and 27 of the 30 GMs were there. Hendry planned to talk to some teams about possible moves tonight.

Jason Bourgeois in Cubbie Blue?

Our friends over at Hot Stove Cubbies have a source that tells them that the Cubs are ready to acquire Jason Bourgeois from the Astros. This was posted at 11:30 this morning, and so far we have heard nothing from big league sources. If nothing else, something to keep an eye on.

Calero Still on Cubs' Radar, Bell Probably Staying Put

Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Cubs are among the teams that have checked on Kiko Calero. The interest is "contingent" on how confident they are in the health of his shoulder. The Cubs are committed to Marmol as their closer, but would like to add another late inning guy. Today, I chatted with former Cubs broadcaster Andy Masur right here on Everything Cubs Blog. One of the many interesting things Andy told me was that he doesn't see the Padres moving Heath Bell this off season, but maybe at the trade deadline. While Masur thinks it would be "frustrating" for Bell to have to share time with Marmol as Cubs' closer, Heath could be an option in July if Marmol struggles in his new role in the first half. I would encourage everyone to click the link above and check out the full Q&A!

The Cubs Convention is the day after tomorrow!

I'll keep you posted on Everything Cubs as always!

Live Q&A with Andy Masur

Former Cubs' broadcaster Andy Masur, who now is a part of the San Diego Padres broadcast team, will join me at 12:30 central time. Andy and I will discussed broadcasting, the Cubs, the Padres, and everything baseball. If you have a question for Andy, you can include it in the comments of this post, email it to, or just submit it during the live chat. Enjoy the chat!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tuesday Roundup: Maddux, Cubs Spring Training, Another Live Q&A, the Cubs Convention, and More

Countdown to the Cubs Convention... 3 Days!
The Unofficial Opening Day is just a few days away! I've been posting countdown posts for the last 20 days here on this blog, a finally the big weekend is almost here! Follow the up to the second countdown on the right sidebar!

Yesterday, the Cubs Convention full sessions schedule was posted on Here is the list of events:

Friday, January 15 (All times Central)
  • 5:00-5:30 pm: Opening Ceremonies
  • 6:-6:45: Autograph Treasure Hunt
  • 7-8:30: Cubs BINGO!
  • 7-9: WGN Radio's Sports Central Live

Saturday, January 16

  • 9-10 a.m.: Meet the Owners
  • 9:30-10:30: Baseball Longevity
  • 10-11: Meet Cubs Baseball Management
  • 10-4pm: Chicago Cubs Photo Experience
  • 10:30-11:30: 25 Yeares- A Celebration of the Cubs & Cubs Fans
  • 11-Noon: Call to the 'Pen
  • 11:30-12:30pm: Think You Know These Guys?
  • Noon-1:00: Leaders of the Pack
  • 12:30-1:30: Vineline- Covering the Cubs for 25 years
  • 1-2: Major League Days
  • 1:30-2:30: Meet Cubs Business Management
  • 2-3: Lief on the Big Screen
  • 2:30-3:30: Lou Piniella: My Life in Baseball, Continued
  • 3-4: Cubs Jeopardy!
  • 3:30-4:30: Baseball in the Dominican
  • 4-5: For Kids Only Press Conference
  • 8-Midnight: Rock 'n' Roll Revue

Sunday, January 17

  • 9-10am: The Essence of Being a Cub
  • 9am-Noon: Chicago Cubs Photo Experience
  • 10:30am-11:30: Down on the Farm Presented by Vine Line

Greg Maddux back with Cubs

Former Cubs pitcher Greg Maddux will return to his first club, the Cubbies, to serve as an assistant to GM Jim Hendry. Maddux will assist the Major and Minor League coaching staffs in Spring Training, help the development of Minor League pitchers during the regular season, and aid Hendry in talent evaluation. According to, he "doesn't have aspirations to manage or be a pitching coach right now" and this job will "allow him to spend quality time with his family".

Cubs Looking at Sheets

According to the report from Carrie Muskat, the Cubs will be among the teams watching Ben Sheets, but his contract demands do not appear to fit into their budget. The Cubs are more focused on finding a veteran right-handed reliever than another starter. Paul Sullivan says that Sheets would like to pitch for the Cubs.

Will Dawson's Number be Retired?

Fred Mitchell of the Tribune reports that Andre Dawson's number will be retired by the Cubs if goes in to the Hall of Fame with a Cub cap on. The Hall still has not made their decision as to whether Dawson will be sporting a Cub cap or an Expos cap when he is enshrined. In my opinion, either his play in Chicago was good enough to get his number retired or it wasn't. The fact that Dawson may where go in as an Expo, the team he got his start with and played for the longest, should be a nonfactor in the decision.

Cubs Spring Training Update

Yesterday, I hosted a Q&A with Nick Gandy of the Florida Sports Foundation right here on this blog. We discussed the possible move of Cubs Spring Training to Naples, Florida. The Naples people seem to think a decision will be made during the month of January. One of the most interesting things Gandy pointed out is that 16 of the last 19 World Series winning teams have trained is Florida. In the end, winning a World Series in the top priority.

Carrie Muskat provided us with some more details on Florida's proposal to the Cubs:

  • The facility will be leased and maintained by the Cubs under a 20 to 30 year contract.
  • It will consist of a 15,000 seat stadium, practice fields, Major and Minor League clubhouses and the Cubs baseball operations headquarters.
  • No county sales tax or ad valorem tax is proposed to fund this project.
  • Outside of Spring Training, this complex will host adult and Little League softball tournaments, concerts, art festivals, and special events.

In the mean time, Arizona cannot afford to lose the Cubs according to the Arizona Republic.

Bruce Levine Chat Recap

Today, Bruce Levine on ESPN Chicago chatted Cubs and White Sox in his weekly session on Here's the recap of all the Cubs info that we learned from Bruce:

  • Greg Maddux has not interest in becoming a pitching coach. However, after a few years in his new role, be may become a manager.
  • Angel Guzman will most likely be traded to either bring back an outfielder or another setup man!
  • "Don't think for a minute what (Greg Maddux) says won't have impact on the major and minor league levels," Levine said.
  • Bruce thinks that there's only about a 10% chance of the Cubs inking Ben Sheets.
  • We will get an update on how Ted Lilly is progressing at the Cubs Convention.
  • The decision to lock up Derrek Lee for a few more years will be an ownership question, not a Jim Hendry question.
  • The Cubs liked Ryan Church is the past, but he had a few down years.
  • The addition of Marlon Byrd makes the Cubs defense "a heck of a lot better".
  • Levine is a big fan of Jermaine Dye, a former White Sox outfielder, but he doesn't see where he would fit on the Cubs defensively because there is no DH in the NL.
  • The Cubs don't feel that Jeff Samardzija is a bullpen guy. He will be given a good shot to be a starting pitcher in Spring Training.
  • If everything works out, Ted Lilly could joined the rotation the second or third week of April.
  • The Rockies want a bullpen arm back for Ryan Spillborghs.
  • The Cubbies are "keeping their fingers crossed" that Alfonso Soriano will bounce back.
  • The impact of Matt Holiday will be felt when the Cubs meet the Cardinals this year.
  • It appears that the lead off man is going to be Kosuke and Theriot at this point.
  • Aramis Ramirez, who is one of only 3 Cubs that will not be at the Convention, is working hard on conditioning strengthening.
  • Neal Cotts was going to be offered a minor league deal by the Cubs, but at this point in his career he'd have a better chance making the Pirates out of Spring Training.
  • Koyie Hill proved himself last season. He is the Cubs' backup catcher without a doubt going into 2010.
  • Aramis Ramirez, Derrek Lee, and Ted Lilly are all free agents after 2010.
  • Not too many teams are interested in Orlando Hudson at this point.
  • Levine would prefer to spend money on a guy like John Smoltz or Jon Garland than Sheets.
  • A Cub source told Bruce that they have no interest in Felipe Lopez. "Keep in mind the Cubs will end up with 3 second baseman when Castro becomes the starting SS."
  • If Lilly, Soriano, and Soto all do well, Bruce thinks the Cubs will be a 90-win team.

Owners' Meetings

In addition to the Cubs Caravan and Convention, this week is also the owners meetings in Phoenix. For the first time ever, all 30 GMs are at these meetings, which could be like a mini-Winter Meetings. Levine closed his chat with this nugget, "When you get them (the GMs) together for 24 or 36 hours, things are liable to happen."

Andy Masur Q&A

Tomorrow, I will be hosting another live Question and Answer session right here on this blog! This will be the second live chat this week! Andy Masur, former Cubs broadcaster with WGN Radio and current Padre voice, will join us to talk baseball, broadcasting, the Padres, and the Cubs. The Q&A will start at about 12:30 PM Central Time. If you have a question for Andy, you can join us live at 12:30 and submit to question, or you can send it to me at, or leave a comment on this post.

Maddux on CTL

The newest member of the Cubs front office, Greg Maddux, joined David Kaplan and company on Chicago Tribune Live yesterday:

  • It feels great for Greg to get back into the game.
  • Chicago is a great city and a great organization. Wrigley Field is the best place in baseball to go.
  • Maddux plans to help in any way he can with the organization and learn about what the front office side of baseball is like.
  • If he can pass on his experience to the younger players, hopefully it will make them better baseball players.
  • Young players have to understand that there is more to the game than just locating your fastball and changing speeds. They need to learn to field, get bunts down, and improve on their pitch selection.
  • Right now Maddux wants to be able to get back into the game very slowly. He has two kids that he still wants to be able to spend a lot of time with.
  • "If the guy was skinnier in the on deck circle, you realized you had to talk your chances with him," Greg said of pitching in the steroid era.

Other Notes

  • New Iowa Cubs manager and former Cub great Ryne Sandberg met with the media yesterday and was introduced as the new I-Cubs skipper.
  • In some sad news, the brother of Cubs pitcher Angel Guzman was shot to death Venezuelan yesterday. Everything Cubs Blog send our condolences to Angel and his family.
  • Cubs pitchers and catchers will report for their first workout on Thursday, February 18, and the first full squad workout will be Tuesday, February 23.
  • The Cubs will make an official announcement with all the non-roster invitee names by the end of the month.
  • The Cubs Spring Training broadcast schedule should also be released soon.
  • The Cubs Caravan is Wednesday and Thursday. I'll have a post or two up about that event during that time.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted! Don't forget, a Q&A with Andy Masur will be tomorrow at 12:30 PM CT.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Q&A with Nick Gandy to Talk Cubs Spring Training

Nick Gandy of the Florida Sports Foundation will join me at 3:30 PM CT. The Live chat will allow you to submit your questions starting a few minutes before the Question and Answer will start, or you can email them to me at cubsblogmailbag@aol. The Question and Answer will be held without leaving this site. Click here for a further explanation.

Q& A with Nick Gandy to Talk Cubs Spring Training Tomorrow

Tomorrow at 3:30 PM CT, Nick Gandy of the Florida Sports Foundation will join me to discuss Grapefruit League Baseball and the possible move of Cubs Spring Training to Florida.

Mr. Gandy was nice enough to agree to take out a few minutes to chat with us, and I'm looking forward to it.

Click here to read a little bit about the history of Spring Training Baseball in Florida.

The Question and Answer session will be live right here on this site, similar to the one I had with Cubs' beat writer Bruce Miles a few weeks back.

If you have a question for Nick that you would like me to ask him, about either himself, the Grapefruit league, or the Cubs possible move to Florida, I'd be happy to ask him. You can submit your questions live during the chat be entering a name and question, or you can send me your questions ahead of time via my email:, or by posting in the comments of this post.

If you cannot make it on to view the live chat at 3:30, the Q&A will still be available for viewing later.

I'll have the post with the chat box up tomorrow.

Countdown to the Cubs Convention: 5 Days

The full list of attendees for the Convention was in the Tribune today. I posted part of the list yesterday, but let's go ahead and update you with the full list:
  • *James Adduci
  • *Jeff Baker
  • Ernie Banks
  • Glenn Beckert
  • *Justin Berg
  • Bob Brenly
  • Randy Bush
  • *Marlon Byrd
  • *Esmalin Caridad
  • *Andrew Cashner
  • *Welington Castillo
  • *Tyler Colvin
  • Jody Davis
  • Andre Dawson
  • Ivan DeJesus
  • Ryan Dempster
  • Bob Dernier
  • Oneri Fleita
  • Mike Fontenot
  • *Sam Fuld
  • *Tom Gorzelanny
  • *John Grabow
  • *Jeff Gray
  • Angel Guzman
  • Jim Hendry
  • Koyie Hill
  • Micah Hoffpauir
  • Pat Hughes
  • Randy Hundley
  • *Brett Jackson
  • *Rudy Jaramillo
  • Fergie Jenkins
  • Jay Johnstone
  • Len Kasper
  • Crane Kenney
  • Derrek Lee
  • Ted Lilly
  • Carlos Marmol
  • Sean Marshall
  • Gary Matthews
  • Keith Moreland
  • Dave Otto
  • Andy Pafko
  • Milt Pappas
  • Lou Piniella
  • Mike Quade
  • Larry Rothschild
  • Jeff Samardzija
  • Ryne Sandberg
  • Scott Sanderson
  • Ron Santo
  • *Carlos Silva
  • Matt Sinatro
  • Lee Smith
  • Geovany Soto
  • Tim Stoddard
  • Lester Strode
  • Rick Sutcliffe
  • Ryan Theriot
  • Alan Trammell
  • Steve Trout
  • Randy Wells
  • Tim Wilken
  • Billy Williams
  • Carlos Zambrano
  • *The Ricketts family (Laura, Pete, Todd, and Tom)

*= first time at Convention

Link to Carrie Muskat's Convention list, which is the same as the one posted here.

Notably absent from the Cubs Convention list are Aramis Ramirez (who hasn't been to a single Convention in his time with the Cubs), Alfonso Soriano (who is usually there), and Kosuke (who will probably never go to a Convention because of the language barrier).

The full schedule of events still has not been released, but I'll update whenever I hear anything on that regard.

More posts to come...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Cubs Sign Brian LaHair

The Cubs have agreed to a minor league contract with first baseman Brian LaHair. He has spent his entire pro career with Seattle, mostly in the minors. Last year, he didn't appear in the majors, but hit .289 at AAA. In 2008, LaHair played in 45 big league games with the Marines hitting .250 with 3 homers and 10 RBIs.

Brian, who's 27, is a left handed hitter. He is very similar to Micah Hoffpauir, and the two are expected to compete for a roster spot in Spring Training. LaHair's contract includes a non-roster invite to Spring Training.

Paul Sullivan reports that Brad Snyder, who has been resigned by the Cubs, will also be in the mix for a bench role.

A few more tidbits:
  • The decision on what hat Andre Dawson will wear when he goes into the Hall of Fame has been delayed until next week according to
  • Phil Rogers says that the Cubs still like Heath Bell, who would help the bullpen.
  • A full list of non-roster invites is expected in the next few weeks.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted.

Countdown to the Cubs Convention: 6 Days

With the Cubs Convention only 6 days away, we finally start to get an idea of who will be there and what session we will get the chance to see.

Every year, WGN Radio hosts several sessions. Today, this year's sessions and guests were announced.

Note that the popular "Not for Women Only" session is not included, but there are some interesting looking first time sessions this year.

Here is the WGN Radio Schedule:
  • Sports Central (Live on WGN Radio
  • Host: David Kaplan:
  • Day/Time: Friday from 7-9
  • Guests-
  • 7-7:30: Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly, Ryan Theriot, and Rick Sutcliffe
  • 7:30-8: Jim Hendry, Lou Piniella, and Oneri Fleita
  • 8-8:30: Ron Santo, Pat Hughes, Bob Brenly, and Len Kasper
  • 8:30-9: Rudy Jaramillo, Marlon Byrd, and Larry Rothschild
  • Meet Cubs Baseball Manangement: 10-11 A.M. Saturday
  • Hosts: Bob Sirott and Dave Eanet
  • Guests: Lou Piniella, Jim Hendry, and Randy Bush
  • Think You Know These Guys?
  • Day/Time: Saturday from 11:30-12:30
  • Host: Garry Meier
  • Guests: Justin Berg, Ryan Dempster, Sam Fuld, Micah Hoffpauir, and Ryan Theriot
  • Major League Days
  • Day/Time: Saturday 1-2 pm
  • Host: John Williams
  • Guests: Bobby Dernier, Jody Davis, Jeff Samardzija, and Geovany Soto
  • Lou Piniella: My Life in Baseball, Continued...
  • Day/Time: Saturday 2:30-3:30
  • Host: Steve Cochran
  • Guests: One-on-One with Lou Piniella

A pretty good list has been developed so far based on guests from those sessions, the Cubs Caravan lists, and other guys who have committed to being there. This list is not complete, and I will update whenever I hear more.

  • Ernie Banks
  • Marlon Byrd
  • Bob Brenly
  • Randy Bush
  • Jody Davis
  • Andre Dawson
  • Ryan Dempster
  • Bobby Dernier
  • Ivan DeJesus
  • Oneri Fleita
  • Sam Fuld
  • Jim Hendry
  • Koyie Hill
  • Micah Hoffpauir
  • Pat Hughes
  • Rudy Jaramillo
  • Ferguson Jenkins
  • Len Kasper
  • Ted Lilly
  • Lou Piniella
  • Larry Rothschild
  • Mike Quade
  • Jeff Samardzija
  • Ryne Sandberg
  • Ron Santo
  • Carlos Silva
  • Matt Sinatro
  • Geovany Soto
  • Lester Strode
  • Rick Sutcliffe
  • Ryan Theriot
  • Alan Trammell
  • Tim Wilken
  • Billy Williams
  • Carlos Zambrano

The countdown will continue tomorrow, and I'll update with any new info I get.

More posts to come...