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 Cubs.com. 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 Cubs.com, 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 ESPNChicago.com. 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 cubsblogmailbag@aol.com, 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.

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