Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weekend Roundup: Cactus League Baseball is Near!

  • The Cactus League schedule opens this week! The first Spring Training game for the Chicago Cubs is on Thursday afternoon at 2:00 PM CT. Randy Wells will get the nod as the starting pitcher in this game. He will go about 2 innings before the ball is turned over to the bullpen.
  • Sean Marshall, J.R. Mathes, Esmalin Caridad, and Mike Parisi will all see action in relief in Thursday's game, which is against the Oakland A's. Former Cubs Jake Fox, Eric Patterson, and Mike Wuertz will all be with the A's for this game at HoHoKam.
  • Today's workouts at Fitch Park were cut short because of rain. John Grabow was the only pitcher to toss some BP.
  • Angel Guzman threw 25-30 pitches in the batting cages from 45 feet today and says his arm felt OK.
  • Lou Piniella will make his ideas about the Cubs' batting order public tomorrow. Carrie Muskat says that we should look to see Alfonso Soriano in the 6 slot.
  • Tomorrow is photo day for the Cubs.
  • Cubs LHP Ted Lilly will most likely miss the entire month of April according to Bruce Levine. This leaves an extra opening in the Cubs' rotation to start the year, as now the 4th and 5th spots are up for grabs.
  • Lilly did some running and playing catch yesterday.
  • Larry Rothchild has been working on throwing with outfielder Xavier Nady, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. The rehab is going well, but whether Nady will be ready for Opening Day is still up in the air according to
  • Aramis Ramirez sat out live BP against Carlos Marmol yesterday. Rami doesn't like taking live BP, but instead chooses to hit off pitching machines and coaches.
  • Mike Fontenot has been taking grounders at short stop. He wants to be able to handle that position as well as second base.
  • Lou Piniella says that there are two jobs open on the Cubs' bench. Koyie Hill, Xavier Nady, and the loser of the Baker/Fontenot competition for the starting second base job will fill the first three spots. reports that there are also four open spots on the pitching staff, 2 each in the rotation and the pen. This means that Grabow, Guzman, Marmol, and Caridad have already been penciled into spots in the bullpen.
  • Sweet Lou went to a chapel today and prayed for our Cubbies.
  • Many of "the kids" will get a chance early on in Cactus League play.
  • Derrek Lee hasn't had talk of a contract extension with the Cubs, so he fully expects to become a free agent at the end of the season according to the Sun Times.
  • Jim Hendy is trying to make a move to bolster the bullpen before Opening Day. Bruce Levine has been reporting for at least a month that Jason Frasor and Luke Gregerson are options, but so far nothing has come of those potential trades. With the recent injuries to Gray and Guzman, the need for relief pitching depth has become apparent.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer takes a look at the state of the Cubs' minor league system.
  • Cubs legend Greg Maddux has been on the field working with pitchers so far, but once games get started on Thursday, Greg will travel with Randy Bush and Gary Hughes to scout opponents.
  • Paul Sullivan reports that Kosuke has made a minor change to his batting mechanics.
  • Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald breaks down the Baker/Fontenot battle.
  • Andre Dawson was on ESPN talking Cubs and Hall of Fame induction!
  • Kevin Millar's chances of making the team improve by the day.
  • Marlon Byrd told Bob Nightengale that he doesn't like all the comparisons to his friend Milton Bradley.

And now let's dive into some TV and Radio Recaps, starting with Lou Piniella on Mully and Hanley on Thursday:

  • Lou likes that fact that the Cubs are not picked to win the division. It takes some pressure of the team.
  • Last year, the Cubs couldn't afford too many injuries, and that's what hit them.
  • They know their system a lot better now that they got a chance to play some kids last year.
  • The pitching was the mainstay of the team in 2009. Randy Wells came out of no where, Carlos Marmol pitched well when he got in the closer's role, and other guys like Caridad and Berg did nice jobs.
  • The Cubs need a bounce back year from Zambrano, they need to get Ted Lilly healthy, and "go from there".
  • One thing is for certain according to Piniella- the Cubs are going to score more runs in 2010 then they did last season.
  • The biggest jobs the Cubs have in Spring Training is sorting out the back end of the rotation and looking for an experienced right handed reliever.
  • The more a manager can rest his team, the better.
  • Lou really likes this baseball team. "We're gonna be a nice ballclub," he said.
  • Carlos Zambrano is his own worst enemy at times.
  • Lou says that there's not reason why Z can't win 17-18 or even 20 ballgames.
  • Team chemistry is not overrated, but obviously the more you win the more chemistry you have.
  • At the start of 2009, there were 11 new faces on the 25-man roster. Then when the rash of injuries occurred, more new people came in. This could have been the cause of the lack of chemistry.
  • Piniella is proud of his club for keeping it together last season.
  • He watched Starlin hit the other day, and saw that Castro had really nice hands, hitting line drives all over the place.
  • Theriot is going to be the Cubs short stop. Castro needs a little more experience.

Jim Hendry joined Bruce Levine and Jonathan Hood on Talkin' Baseball on ESPN Radio Saturday:

  • Bruce Levine celebrated his birthday on Saturday, prompting Jim to joke that Levine was one of the oldest guys left in the media.
  • Hendry thinks it was unfortunate that they had to go to arbitration, but it's not going to be an issue with Theriot.
  • Jim is hoping he won't have to go to a hearing again.
  • The Cubs need to swing the bats more consistently this season.
  • He is going to keep his eye on bullpen pitchers. The free agent market is thin, but they will try to work out a trade. They will try to make a move before Opening Day if something good comes along, but it won't be a failure if they don't.
  • Aramis Ramirez is being counted on to be healthy again. Jeff Baker could shift over to third to backup, and Chad Tracy can also play the hot corner if Rami were to go down.
  • Ted Lilly has a little irritation in his knee, and that is normal. Ted is not going to need a procedure.
  • Marlon Byrd has become a really good offensive player. Byrd has made a lot of progress the last few years in Texas. Jaramillo gave the Cubs a really good review of Marlon. Byrd also plays good center field and is a great team guy.
  • In a perfect world the Cubs would have liked to have added a left handed bat, but Byrd hits righties well.
  • Jim is "not really" disappointed in the way that Carlos Silva has reported. Silva knows that he needs to get 10-12 pounds off before Opening Day. Carlos has thrown the ball well.
  • Hendy has a great relationship with Lou, but both sides are going to worry about 2010 first. They are not concerned about Piniella's contract beyond this year yet.
  • He thinks it's a great idea by MLB Network to do the reality TV show on the White Sox. It will certainly make for a great story.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted on everything Cubs as always!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Spring Training Preview: The Starting Position Players

Aramis Ramirez- 3B
Rami is coming off a season in which he was held back by a shoulder injury that occurred on May 8 diving for a ground ball down the third base line in a game against the Brewers. Aramis has been productive since coming to Chicago in 2003, with an average of exactly .300 over that time span. The loss of the cleanup man for a significant period of time would hurt any club, and the lineup was not the same without Aramis, especially with Soriano, Bradley, Soto, and Kosuke struggling. A healthy 2010 is critical for the club, because without A-Ram the Cubs batting order would be like a doughnut (hole in the middle). He worked hard in his home country of the Dominican Republic this winter, but we'll see if it pays off.

Ryan Theriot- SS
Theriot became the first Cub to go to an arbitration hearing since Mark Grace in 1993. He lost the hearing and had to settle for the amount of money that the Cubs were offering him, $2.6 million, which would not be considered a loss for most Americans. Ryan and the club appear to be on the same page once again, and The Riot will turn his focus to trying to keep his job as the starting short stop. He is going into this season with something to prove, because top prospect Starlin Castro is waiting in the wings. There was talk this winter of Theriot moving to second base to make room for Castro at short, but Lou Piniella has said that Ryan is his short stop for now. However, the Cubs' skipper says he would feel comfortable with Starlin as the starting SS if an injury were to occur to Ryan. Theriot will hit somewhere at the top of the order, but it is still up in the air whether he will lead off or bat second.

Derrek Lee- 1B
Ask any member of the team who their leader is, and they won't hesitate before saying Derrek's name. Lee is the calm, cool, and collective type, who leads by example. He doesn't fight teammates, scream at umpires, or complain about the media; but instead just acts professional and takes care of business. D-Lee was one of the only regulars who did not have a down year in 2009, hitting .306 with 35 long balls (his most since his stellar '05 year). The 2009 season was Derrek's third base numbers wise in his 13 year big league career, just behind '05 and '07. In addition to his bat, Lee helps the team on defense saving countless base runner and picking up his teammates when he scoops throws out of the dirt. Derrek is in the last year of his contract and would like to stay with the team beyond this season, but doesn't want those talks to distract from the task at hand.

Geovany Soto- C
After being named the NL Rookie of the Year in 2008, things went downhill for the young Cub catcher in 2009. Soto's suffered from several injuries and other distractions, which resulted in a .218 batting average and a drop in games played. Geo has admitted that he was overweight last season, and he took it upon himself to change that over the winter. Geovany dropped 40... count 'em 40... pound over the offseason mostly through diet along with some exercise. The new, slim downed Geo does not have to deal with playing in the World Baseball Classic this spring as he did in '09, so he will have plenty of time to get his work in in Cactus League games to get ready for what we hope will be a bounce back year. Soto will probably fit in somewhere in the bottom part of the order, but if he hits to his potential he could end up batting 5th or 6th.

Alfonso Soriano- LF
Alfonso Soriano was a major factor in the Cubs' 98 win 2008 season, but then he scuffled through an awful 2009. He hit .241 with just 20 home runs (his lowest total in that category since 2001) before being shut down in September with a knee injury. Sori's knee is feeling better, despite the fact that he did not run 100% on it this offseason. His days as a lead-off man are now behind him, and the sixth spot in Lou's lineup could have his name written all over it. He cannot afford too many slumps at the plate because he is already a minus defender in left. New Cub hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, who worked with Alfonso in Texas, could help him return to 2008 form.

Marlon Byrd- CF
Last offseason, the Cubs major acquisition was an outfielder signed as a free agent from Texas with the initials M.B. This year, the Cubs major addition is inking a free agent outfielder from Texas with the initials M.B. However, that's as far as the similarities between Milton Bradley and Marlon Byrd go, as Byrd is a very positive and team oriented guy. Marlon is a very good friend of Jaramillo, as both spent time together with the Rangers and now are happy to come to Chicago together. A familiar face should help make the transition to a big market club a little easier. On the field, Byrd is a right handed on base guy, who's power numbers were up in 2009. Marlon is also expected to help the Cubs defensively in the outfield, but he does not have the range of Sam Fuld or Reed Johnson.

Kosuke Fukudome- RF
Kosuke was pretty much just there in 2009. He did not play very well, but there were so many Cub hitters slumping that he did not receive as much attention as he did in 2008, his first year in Major League Baseball after starting his baseball career in Japan. Kosuke's '08 and '09 seasons were very similar, but hopefully now he has fully adapted to life and baseball in the states. The Cubs do have many other outfield options, so if he goes in any elongated slumps, he could find himself limited to platoon or bench duties. Kosuke's defense is expected to be better this year, because he moves back to right field, where he played in his first season with the Cubs. Kosuke is more comfortable in right than in center, where he moved last year to make room for Milton Bradley in right. Kosuke will hit either first or second in the lineup to start the year, and has a chance at beating out Theriot for the coveted lead-off role. The Cubs had a better record in 2009 when he was atop the lineup than they did with Soriano or Theriot, so maybe that stat will be taken into consideration by Piniella.

Mike Fontenot- 2B
Fontenot excelled as a bench player in 2008, earning him the right to take over the job as the starting second baseman when Mark DeRosa was shipped to Cleveland last winter. However, "Little Babe Ruth" scuffled all year in '09, hitting just .236 with 9 home runs. Due to his struggles as the every day man, there is a chance that Fontenot will be moved back to part-time duty. He will have to go out and earn the job in Spring Training again this year. He has also been taking ground balls at short stop, so he may end up being Theriot's backup as well.

Jeff Baker- 2B
Second base is the only position on the diamond that is up for grabs. Fontenot's main competition for the starting job will be Jeff Baker, who the Cubs acquired from Colorado last summer due to the struggles of Fontenot and Aaron Miles. Baker hit .305 in 69 games after the trade, catching the eye of Cubs' brass. Baker will also serve as a backup to Aramis Ramirez at third, something the Cubs lacked at the start of last season. Just because you got a few good months out of the guy doesn't mean he should be penciled in as a starter, so Lou Piniella will let Baker and Fontenot "battle it out" this spring.

Sometime before Cactus League play begins on Thursday, I'll wrap up our Spring Training Preview series with Part 6- the bench. This post will cover all other position player on the 40-man roster!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Catching Up on Cub Camp

First of all, sorry about the lack of everyday posting this week! It's been a busy one for me and for the Cubs, as we have lots of notes to get to!
  • Yesterday was Ron Santo's 70th birthday! Ronny will start yet another season in the Cubs' organization when he joins Pat Hughes at the WGN Radio mic when the Cubs kick off Spring Training next Thursday!
  • Carlos Zambrano is expected to be the Cubs Opening Day starter.
  • Yesterday farm hand Rafael Dolis nailed Ryan Theriot with a fastball in live Batting Practice. There is no need for concern, because Ryan is OK.
  • Alfonso Soriano has arrived in Mesa. He says that he did not run on his knee 100% this offseason, but he is surprised at how good it feels.
  • Angel Guzman, who was already sidelined for the start of practices because of a knee surgery, now has complained of shoulder pain as well. He still could be ready for Opening Day, but if these injuries continue the Cubs definitely need a right handed setup man.
  • Ted Lilly was absent from Cub camp the past few days because he is ill. According to Jim Hendy, his fever is at 102 or 103. Carrie Muskat reports that Lilly was back in camp today.
  • Jeff Gray, who is out with a groin injury, should be ready to pitch sometime next week.
  • Cubs manager Lou Piniella is expecting more from guys like Soto, Soriano, and Kosuke this year.
  • Esmalin Caridad has secured a spot in Lou's bullpen. Piniella is showing the confidence is Caridad that he showed with Theriot when he told him he made the team early in the 2007 camp. Hopefully this confidence will help Esmalin!
  • Starlin Castro has continued to impress Cubs' brass in practices and workouts. Lou says that he would not hesitate to call this kid up if need be.
  • Ozzie Guillen, the manager of that other Chicago club, has been using Twitter. Piniella says that he would never consider tweeting.
  • Check out this great video of a practice at Fitch Park from "Boys of Spring".
  • The Cub pitchers have been sorted into an "A" team and a "B" team. The B squad is made up of Mitch Atkins Casey Coleman, Thomas Diamond, Jeff Kennard, Marcos Mateo, J.R. Mathes, Mike Parisi, Blake Parker, David Patton, Vince Perkins, James Russell, and Jeff Stevens. The rest of the guys (Dempster, Zambrano, Wells, Marmol, Silva, Gaub, Grabow, Marshall, Dolis, Berg, Gorzelanny, and Caridad) were on the "A" team. Jeff Samardzija and Andrew Cashner through BP separately from the rest of the guys.
  • The Ricketts family showed up in camp for the first time on Tuesday. Tom's message was that the organization is now a family.
  • Andres Blanco could make the team as a backup player, or the team could try to trade him before Opening Day.
  • Kevin Millar has done a great job of keeping things loose out in the valley.
  • Aramis Ramirez likes the additions of Marlon Byrd and Xavier Nady. Rami says he's 100% healthy.
  • Mike Fontenot and Jeff Baker will compete for the starting second base job.
  • Derrek Lee would love to return to the club for the 2011 season, but he does not want his contract situation to be a distraction to the team during this season.
  • Jeff Samardzija has been pitching well so far this spring, but it's still early.
  • The MLB Network will televise the Cub Spring Training games on March 23 VS KC and March 26 VS Oakland. In addition to this two games, which brings the Cubs ST TV total to 11, they will also carry the April 1 VS the Rockies game, which is also on CSN. All of these games start at 3 CT.

That's it for now, but there's a lot more to come this weekend!

Remember, it's the final weekend before Cactus League play!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Spring Training Preview: The Bullpen

We discussed the rotation earlier in the week, so now it's time to jump back into it by breaking down the state of the Cubs' bullpen.

Carlos Marmol
This year, Marmol knows his role. He doesn't have to try to beat anyone out for the closer's job in camp, as it is finally all his. This could work either way. Perhaps Carlos will be able to use the time in Spring Training to relax and prepare for the season rather than when a job. But depending on one guys without much of a plan B for the 9th inning may not be such a good thing. Marmol's has been like a roller coaster since he started his Cub career in 2006. There's not question that he has great stuff, with an electric breaking ball and a good fastball, but command of his pitchers could be an issue. Marmol has been know for putting gives on base via the base on balls and hit by pitch, so Cubs fans could be doing a lot of sweating during the 9th this year. If the Cubs are going to return to their title of top dog in the Central, the key very well could be this man's performance closing games.
Prediction: Lock to make the roster as the closer

John Grabow
Earlier in the offseason, the Cubs feel like they made a big move that got little attention when they locked up Grabow. Grabow is a left handed late inning pitcher who came over from the Pirates along with Tom Gorzelanny in the deal that sent Kevin Hart and Jose Ascaino the other way last July. He pitched well in middle relief down the stretch last season, and will strive to continue success in the late innings. Grabow is a key to the bullpen because he is one of the only veteran arms to lead the way. The Cubs would still like to sign one more late inning guy to help out from the right side.
Prediction: Lock to make the roster as a reliever

Angel Guzman
Guzman has not thrown the baseball yet in camp after having arthroscopic surgery on his knee two weeks ago. He tore his meniscus during a workout in Venezuela last month. Jim Hendry says that Angel will be a couple of weeks behind the other pitchers, but will be ready to go for the start of Spring Training. The question with Guzman has never been a matter of stuff, it's a matter of staying healthy. He managed to still healthy most of 2009 with just one stint on the DL and a few minor injuries here and there. The one thing the is still unchecked on Hendy's offseason wish-list is a right handed setup man. Guzman could serve in this role for the Cubs if he is indeed ready to go before Opening Day.
Prediction: Will make the roster as a reliever

Jeff Stevens
This young right handed pitcher has already taken advantage of the experience in the organization, working with Greg Maddux at Fitch Park. Stevens pitched well last spring, and this year has his sites set on winning a spot in the Cubs bullpen. Jeff came to the Cubs in the unpopular trade among fans that shipped Mark DeRosa to Cleveland. Spent some time with the big league team during the season, but ended up with an unfairly bloated ERA in a handful of appearances.
Prediction: Will Start the year at AAA Iowa

Jeff Gray
One of three Jeffs on the pitcher staff and four on the 40-man roster, Gray is a new addition to the Cub relief core. He was traded to Chicago this winter in the deal that sent Aaron Miles and Jake Fox to Oakland. Jeff spent some time with the A's big league club last year posting a 3.76 ERA in 24 games. If he makes the roster, Gray will become the first Cub to wear number 34 since Kerry Wood sported in for ten years before his departure via free agency after the 2008 season.
Prediction: Will make the Cubs roster as a reliever

David Patton
After selecting him in the Rule 5 Draft in December of 2008, the Cubs were forced to keep Patton on the roster for all of the 2009 season. Had they sent him to the minors, he would have been returned to the Seattle organization. Apparently, the Cubs saw something they liked in this kid, as they kept him around despite a 6.83 ERA in 20 games. Before last season, David had never played high that Class A. He did spend a lot of time on the DL during the summer months of last year, before finally returning when roster expanded on September 1. Now it's time to find out of the struggle to keep Patton around was worth it. If the Cubs decide that he cannot help the bullpen, he can be sent down to the minors without the organization losing the red-headed prospect.
Prediction: Will star the year at AA Tennessee

Mike Parisi
What is it with the Cubs and these Rule 5 guys? Parisi was this year's selection, and so he must be kept on the big league roster or else he will be returned to St. Louis. Parasi is more experienced than Patton was a year ago, as he has spent a lot of time at AAA and even 12 games in the bigs in 2008. Over those 12 games Mike went 0-4 with a dreadful 8.22 ERA. He has been a starter in the past, but will likely fill a relief role if he pitches well enough in Cactus League play to make the roster. He is coming off of Tomm John surgery in August of 2008.
Prediction: Will be returned to St. Louis

Esmalin Caridad
The young Dominican right hander has electric stuff. Last season, when he got a chance to come up to the Cubs because of a string of injuries, he opened some eyes with a microscopic 1.40 ERA in 14 games. If the Cubs do not add another arm to the mix, Caridad could not only make the club, but also have a major impact. He will have to continue to prove himself in Arizona, as he is not a lock to get a spot on the team because of the crowded mix of relievers.
Prediction: Will make the roster as a reliever

John Gaub
Another arm netted in the DeRosa trade, Gaub had a solid year at AAA in 2009 earning a spot on the 40-man roster. Next on the agenda for Gaub is to try to earn a spot on the 25-man roster. The lefty has yet to make his big league debut. Gaub has talent, but the pitching staff already includes four left handers in Grabow, Marshall, Lilly, and Gorzelanny- at least two of which will be pitching out of the bullpen. Although a spot on the Opening Day roster is unlikely, when there is an injury or someone struggles, Gaub could be the first LHP to get to call up.
Prediction: Will start they year at AAA Iowa

Blake Parker
Although he has little or no chance of starting the year with the Cubs, Parker still has a good arm. He was drafted by the Cubs as a position in 2006, and then was converted to the hill after one year in the organization. He posted a 2.70 ERA last year, splitting the team between Iowa and Tennessee. Parker played for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League this winter.
Prediction: Will start the year at AAA Iowa

Marcos Mateo
Brother of former Cub Juan Mateo, Marcos went 3-6 with a 4.07 ERA in 34 game with Tennessee last year. He came to the organization in 2008, playing for the Reds Class A squad prior to that time. He has quickly worked his was from Peoria to AA over the last two years, and plans to keep moving up that latter. Mateo could find himself in the big leagues within the next year or two.
Prediction: Will start the year at AA

Mitch Atkins
Don't count this 23 year old out of the Cubs bullpen mix just. Although last year was a down year for Mitch (8-12 with a 6.58 ERA at AAA), he did go 8-1 in ten games with the I-Cubs at the end of the '08 season. Atkins will need to bounce back with a good spring. He has been used mostly as a starting pitcher, but perhaps he will be added to the bullpen at some point this season if someone goes down.
Prediction: Will start the year at AAA

Rafael Dolis
This talented young hurler is still a few seasons away from the big leagues. He is on the 40 man roster because the Cubs wanted to protect him from being selected in the Rule V Draft in December. In 2009, Dolis put up a 3.79 ERA at Class A Daytona after missing all of '08 because of Tommy John surgery. Dolis is now back to full health, and will begin to make his climb to the big leagues. He was signed by the Cubs in 2006.
Prediction: Will start the year at Class A Daytona

So here is my prediction for the Cubs full 12 man pitching staff: Dempster, Zambrano, Gorzelanny, Wells, Samardzija, Marshall, Grabow, Guzman, Marmol, Gray, Caridad, and Stevens. DL: Lilly and Silva

We'll start our look at the hitters in a few days!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Quick Hits: Sori Reports, Rain in Mesa, & More

  • Alfonso Soriano reported to Mesa, Arizona today. Sori is coming off of knee surgery and says he's ready to test that knee at full speed. He is fully expected to be running 100% by Opening Day.
  • Jeff Stevens, who the Cubs got in the Mark DeRosa trade in December of 2008, is vying for a spot in the bullpen. Today he worked with Cubs legend Greg Maddux as he tossed on the side.
  • Angel Guzman, another member of the Cubs pen, plans to use the murder of his brother as motivation rather than something that would have a negative effect on his performance according to
  • The Cubs have made two new front office hires. Click for details.
  • Xavier Nady has been working on his throwing mechanics. He worked with Larry Rothschild this weekend. Nady is coming off of his second Tommy John sugury.
  • Rule 5 Pick Mike Parisi is hoping to win a job with the Cubs in any role. Parasi does have some big league experience with St. Louis under his belt, so he is unlike David Patton who had never pitched higher than Class A when the Cubs drafted him last year.
  • Patton, by the way, will try to make the Cubs bullpen, but no longer has to have a spot on the roster. He can now be sent down to AA or AAA without the Cubs losing him since he spent a full season on the big league roster.
  • Rain has forced the Cubs indoors and/or cancel practices this weekend. Saturday practice at Fitch Park was cut short when a rain storm came, and Sunday the Cubs did even take the field, hitting in batting cages only. The weather forced practice to take place indoors once again.
  • Bruce Miles confirmes that the Cubs did have some interest in Chan Ho Park before he inked with the Yankees today.
  • The only player left missing from Cub camp are Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, and Starlin Castro. They are expected to be spotted at Fitch Park tomorrow during the first full squad work out of the year.
  • Randy Wells has found out that he needs glasses. Maybe this could lead to even bigger and better things from Randy. Paul Sullivan says that Wells looks like "The Wild Thing".
  • Former Cub Cliff Floyd is now doing some broadcasting for the Marlins.
  • Lou Piniella has been impressed with some of the "young kids" in camp so far including Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters.

Thanks to everyone who voted on our last poll which was:

Who will be the most improved Cub in 2010?

1. Soto (10 votes)

2. Soriano (4 votes)

3. Zambrano (3 votes)

Be sure to check out the new question on the right sidebar:

Who will become the Cubs' fifth starter?

A) Jeff Samardzija

B) Tom Gorzelanny

C) Sean Marshall

D) Carlos Silva

E) Other

Please cast you vote over on the right sidebar and feel free to discuss in the comments! Remember you can email at!

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

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spring Training Preview: The Starting Rotation

Carlos Zambrano
Big Z worked out hard and dropped some weight this offseason. Nine wins is not going to cut it this year. Zambrano says he's finally calmed down, but we've heard that before. If there one guy on the Chicago Cubs that needs to step it up the most, it's Carlos. The Cubs lack the "ace" that most of the elite baseball teams have. When he's on he shows signs of being the horse, but inconsistency has riddled Zambrano's career.
My Prediction: Lock for Opening Day Roster and rotation

Ryan Dempster
After a great 2008 season in which he moved to the rotation and put up 17 wins, Dempster faltered in 2009, possibly in part because of off the field family distractions. Demp said at the Cubs Convention that his daughter is starting to do better. Hopefully this will lead to a return to 2008 form, and he's not the lone Cub in that category. Ryan's a great guy, and we wish him the best on and off the field.
My Prediction: Lock for Opening Day roster and rotation

Randy Wells
The Cubs' rotation could really hinge on Wells. Randy had a marvelous rookie campaign a year ago, but as Cubs fans experienced first hand with Soto a year ago, the dreaded sophomore slump is always a possibility. Can Wells really be counted on to be a consistent middle of the rotation starter after less than one season in the bigs? Lou has him penciled in to the rotation, but we'll have to wait and see how it turns out!
My Prediction: Lock for Opening Day Roster and rotation

Ted Lilly
The Bulldog was the only Cub on the NL All-Star team in 2009, and although he did suffer and injury and miss some time in the second half, he and Wells were the best Cub pitcher last year. Lilly had a shoulder surgery this offseason, so he will miss Spring Training and most likely not be ready to start until mid to late April. 2010, his 3rd season with the Cubs, will be a big year for Lilly because afterwards he will hit the free agent market. Right now, however, he will focus on getting healthy and returning to a rotation that cannot afford to lose guys for long periods of time.
My Prediction: Will start the year on the DL

Jeff Samardzija
The Shark pitched great out of the bullpen in the final few months of the 2008 season, but then struggled when he was given a chance to start in 2009. The former Notre Dame football standout has bounced back and forth between AAA and the big leagues and between the rotation and the bullpen over the last two years. He has worked on developing some new pitchers in Mexican Winter Ball this offseason. Samardzija has made it clear that he wants to be in the rotation rather than the pen.
My Prediction: Will start the year in the Cubs' rotation

Tom Gorzelanny
Gorzo was acquired from the Pirates just before the trade deadline last July, and went 7-3 in 22 games (7 starts) with the Cubs in the final two months. The Chicago native is a left handed hurler and is also fighting for the final spot in the Cubs' rotation. He has more experience in the big leagues than Samardzija does, but does he have better stuff?
My Prediction: Will start the year taking Lilly's spot in the rotation, before moving to the bullpen when Ted returns.

Sean Marshall
Marshall has done just about everything since making his big league debut with the Cubs in 2006. This lefty's Cub resume includes starting, relieving, being used as a swing man, long relief, left handed specialist, set-up man, and even playing left field for one batter last July in a Sunday night game at Wrigley against the Cardinals. Sean has paid his dues succeeding in just about every role the Cubs have tossed him in to. However, the Cubs could use him in a utility role once again.
My Prediction: Swing Man

Carlos Silva
The best thing about Silva- his name is not Milton Bradley. The Cubs acquired Silva in a swap of bad contracts with Seattle this offseason, and according a multiple reports out of Arizona, Lou Piniella is not pleased with the shape that Carlos has reported to camp in. Silva will get into some Spring Training games and try to win a spot in the rotation, but most likely will not be a major factor this season in any capacity.
My Prediction: Will start the season hidden on the DL

So, if Zambrano, Dempster, Wells, Samardzija, Gorzelanny, and Marshall all make 25-man roster, which most likely they will, there are just 6 spots left on the pitching staff even with Lilly and Silva starting the season on the DL. There are 14 pitchers in camp (plus Silva) competing for those six spots in the bullpen, and I'll have the pen preview for you sometime in the next couple of days!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cubs Win Arbitration Case with Theriot

Making $2.6 million this year would not be a loss for most of us, but for Cubs short stop Ryan Theriot it is a loss. Jim Hendy said that the Cubs always pay their players a fair amount, so they would not have gone to a hearing unless they really felt Theriot was being given a solid offer. Theriot's case was the last MLB case to be heard. The teams won five of eight cases this year. Theriot said that the hearing was not too bad after all, but definitely interesting.

More to come this weekend, which is the second-to-last before Spring Training games get underway!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Quick Hits After a Few Days in Mesa

  • An MRI has revealed the LHP Ted Lilly, who will miss the start of the season with an arm related injury, has no serious knee injury according to a report from
  • Cubs broadcaster Ron Santo told Paul Sullivan that Milton Bradley "was always kind of mad".
  • Speaking of Santo, he is ready to start a new season. The first Cubs WGN broadcast of the year is March 4, and Ronny can't wait. He'll be joined by Pat Hughes in the booth as the Cubs kick of the Cactus League schedule. In addition, Ron (who has diabetes) is feeling great.
  • Although position players do not officially have to report until next week, all but six of the Cubs position players have already reported to get a head start. The six missing are Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramiez, Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Theriot, Kosuke Fukudome, and Starlin Castro.
  • Xavier Nady is working on throwing mechanics with pitching coach Larry Rothschild.
  • Carlos Silva reported to camp out of shape. The Tribune tells us that Lou wants to get him in better condition.
  • Carlos Zambrano says that he finally will bring a better attitude this season.
  • Ryan Theriot and the Cubs met in an arbitration hearing today in Florida. The decision should be announced tomorrow according to Carrie Muskat.
  • Randy Wells is a key to the Cubs rotation this year. The young righty is hoping to repeat what he did in his rookie season in 2009.
  • Arizona Phil from TCR gives a nice detailed description of the scene at Fitch Park.
  • Check out some great pics and blog posts over at Boys of Spring.

Jersey Number Changes and Info

  • Xavier Nady will take over #22, which is the number he wore for the Pirates.
  • Tom Gorzelanny, who wore #22 last season, will switch to #23.
  • John Gaub, who did have #32, will now sport #48.
  • Marlon Byrd also wore #22 last year, but he wanted #24 instead.
  • Greg Maddux has been in uniform wearing the familiar number 31. I wonder if he had to get Fergie Jenkins permission.
  • Jeff Gray will wear #34, which has not been used since Kerry Wood left the Cubs in 2008.
  • Chad Tracy will wear #9, Kevin Millar will wear #15, and Bobby Scales will switch from #15 to #19.

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

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spring Training Preview: Non Roster Outfielders

We took a look at the infielders on Tuesday, so today we handle what's going on with the Cubs outfield non roster invites to Spring Training. This will round out our preview of non roster guys, but our Spring Training Preview will continue when we move in to looking at the 40 man roster.

Matt Camp
  • Plays mostly CF, also has played 2B, 3B, SS, LF, and RF all during the 2009 season
  • B/T: Left/Right
  • Drafted by the Cubs in the 13th round of the 2006 June Draft
  • Was up for grabs in the Rule V Draft in December, but was not selected
  • Hit .284 in 113 games last season mostly with AAA Iowa
  • Hit .329 in 59 Mexican Pacific League games this winter
  • My prediction: Will start the year at AAA

Brett Jackson

  • Drafted by the Cubs in the first round of the 2009 June Draft
  • Centerfielder
  • B/T: Left/Right
  • Played 1 game with the Mesa Cubs Rookie Ball team going 2-2, which was good enough to get him the call up to Boise where he hit .330 in 24 games, which got him moved up to Class A Peoria where he hit .295 in 26 games
  • Rated #2 prospect in the organization by Jim Callis of Baseball America
  • Rated "Best Power Hitter" and "Best Athlete" in the system by Baseball America
  • Rated "Best Footwork" (tie) and "Best Competitiveness" (tie) in the organization by Vineline
  • My prediction: Will start the year with Class A Daytona

Bryan LaHair

  • Signed a minor league contract with the Cubs on Jan. 9
  • B/T: Left/Right
  • Plays LF, RF, and 1B
  • Played with Tacoma (the Mariners AAA club) in 2009
  • More info on Bryan in my January 9 post
  • My Prediction: Will be DFA or start the year at AA

Bobby Scales

  • Utility guy, plays LF, RF, 2B, 3B, SS, 1B, and CF
  • B/T: Switch/Right
  • Only non roster invitee who played with the Cubs big league team in 2009
  • Hit .242 with 3 HR and 15 RBI in 51 big league games last season
  • Drafted by the Padres in the 14th round of the 1999 draft
  • Hit .278 in 91 games for AAA Iowa last season
  • 32 years old
  • My Prediction: Will start the year at AAA

Brad Snyder

  • Plays CF and RF
  • B/T: Left
  • Last season was first year in the organization
  • Drafted by the Indians in the first round of the 2003 June Draft
  • Hit .269 in 69 games at AAA Iowa last season despite dealing with a wrist injury
  • Was Camp's teammate in Mexico this winter; hit .379 with 9 homers and 48 RBIs over 55 games
  • My Prediction: Will star the year at AAA

For all position players...

Guy to Watch for in the Future: Starlin Castro

Best Chance to make the Cubs: Kevin Millar

Most underrated: Brad Snyder

I'm looking forward to seeing these guys in Spring Training games starting on March 4!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Cubbies Come Out of Hibernation

It's official, pitchers and catcher have reported to Spring Training in Mesa, Arizona! Their first workouts will take place tomorrow. Today, however, lots of news, interviews, and rumors have been spreading, so let's jump right in.

Lilly Update reports that Ted Lilly is targeting a return by Opening Day. Ted went for for a long run with Ryan Dempster today and felt pretty good. He also tossed lightly on the side with coach Allan Trammell. Lou Piniella is not as optimistic as the lefty, predicting a return between April 15 and May 1. Also, Lilly would like to stay with the Cubs beyond 2010, but he doesn't want that to be a distraction.

Cubs Tax
A lot has been made of the "Cubs Tax" that the state of Arizona would like to put in place. If this goes through, all fans will have to pay a tax on their Cactus League game tickets to help keep the Cubs in Arizona. Even if the Cubs are not playing in the game, this tax would be enforced. Obviously, most other teams are opposed to the idea, and the D'backs and White Sox have been especially vocal.

Soto on Steroids?... No Chance
With the sudden weight loss this winter of Cubs catcher Geovany Soto, some speculated that this could be a result of Geo using steroids before. Soto told Paul Sullivan that these rumors are ridiculous, as he was just fat before, and now stuck to a work out program this offseason. Soto reported to camp early, working out with new hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo yesterday. He was one of 40 Cubs to report early to Fitch Park.

Less Attention, More Focus
Chicago Cubs Spring Training will get much less attention from the national media than it did each of the last 3 years, as the Tribune pointed out. A laid back camp could be a good thing for the team, as it will allow them to spend more time practicing and less time and energy answer questions. There are few new faces to be seen, so this group of guys already knows each other pretty well.

Early Injuries
There are just two pitchers that will be slowed down at the start of camp, Jeff Gray and Angel Guzman. Bruce Miles reports that Gray, who was acquired from the A's in the traded that sent Jake Fox the other way, has a mild groin strain. Guzman had arthroscopic knee surgery two weeks ago, but he will be ready to go by the end of the spring.

Hearing Time
At this point, going to arbitration with short stop Ryan Theriot seems inevitable. According to, Jim Hendry will leave tomorrow for Florida, where the hearing will take place either Friday or Saturday. Levine chimes in that the date is set for Friday. The Cubs have a good history of avoiding these hearings (this is the first since 1993), but they are trying to save some money that could be used to help the bullpen. Should be interesting.

Theriot's Role
Starlin Castro will get a lot of playing time in Spring Training games, but Lou is planning on going with Ryan as the Opening Day shortstop. Also, Theriot will be the Cubs primary leadoff man, with Kosuke hitting second.

Rotation Battle
Another Cub to report early was Jeff Samardzija, who really wants to be a starting pitcher in the big leagues. The Shark will have to battle with Tom Gorzelanny, Carlos Silva, and Sean Marshall for what most likely will be only one spot, with Lilly returning shortly after the start of the year. Marshall figures to end up as a swing man, but the Cubs do feel he deserves a chance to earn the job. Gorzo has experience in the rotation, while Samardzija struggled when given the chance last year. He has his work cut out for him.

Greg Maddux has reported
Another pitcher who reported to the Cubs today was Greg Maddux, only this time he will not be taking the hill. Thanks to TCR for this one- Lary Rothschild will most likely be around as Cubs pitcher coach as long as Jim Hendy is the team's GM. Therefore, fans that would like to see Greg in the dugout coaching may have to wait until after the Hendy era comes to a close.

The Message
Piniella's message to this year's time is, "Let's get back on top." He is hoping to add another 10-12 wins to what the Cubs did last year. Rudy will work with Lou's hitters every morning at 10:00 according to Bruce Levine.

Hill with Cardinals
Former Cubs pitcher Rich Hill signed a minor league deal with St. Louis this offseason that included an invite to Spring Training. Hill has impressed pitching coach Dave Duncan. Could this be another Duncan/LaRussa success story?

Levine's Latest

Mr. Chicago Baseball started his busy few days by joining Waddle and Silvy yesterday to talk baseball:
  • Bruce is getting a lot of questions about what can be expected from Carlos Zambrano. Big Z and Dempster are keys to this team with Harden gone, Lilly down, Wells young, and a handful of question marks in the mix for the rotation as well.
  • Levine thinks the Cubs are due a new ballpark.
  • The Cubs add 4,000 people a game to every road game, so they make money for the other teams. Bruce doesn't like the idea of "Cubs tax" but they are very important to all of the teams in the state.
  • You can't depend on Spring Training results, because you are not going up against all major league players.

Bruce stopped by the Afternoon Saloon on ESPN 1000 yesterday as well:

  • Yesterday Rudy Jaramillo had 12 guys swinging for the first time. Marlon Byrd and Geovany Soto are among the "early bird" hitters.
  • Levine hopes that Soto did not lose his power with his weight.
  • Alfonso Soriano is the player that Lou Piniella is most concerned about going into this season.
  • Sori was so out of his swing and "clueless" last year, that he really needs to recover and be a productive 5 or 6 hole hitter.
  • Derrek Lee may get more rest this year. Xavier Nady plays some first, and he will be the backup to Derrek.

Busy Bruce hosted his weekly chat on yesterday:

  • Chad Tracy, Micah Hoffpauir, and Kevin Millar are have different strengths and weaknesses, but he thinks there will only be a spot on the roster for one of them.
  • Somehow the Cubs must figure out their bench, because a solid bench is needed to win. Sam Fuld could play a role.
  • There may be some questions Felipe Lopez's character, so teams may not want him even for a minor league deal.
  • Some starting pitcher will have to step up.
  • To make it to the World Series, the Cubs are going to need bullpen help and a healthy Ted Lilly.
  • Jeff Gray has a shot to make the bullpen. Levine called him a "young version of Bobby Howry".
  • The Cubs are very interested in Chan Ho Park. If they win Theriot's arbitration case, they may have a better chance of going after him because of the money gained.
  • Castro may not be around to the middle of the season or later, maybe not even until next year.
  • 15 or 16 wins from Zambrano will satisfy Z and the team. They are looking for quality innings.
  • If the Cubs don't have any injuries, they have a good shot in the Central. However, this is unlikely, and that's why a strong bench is important.
  • Jake Fox couldn't hit the breaking ball, and that was part of the reason for the trade.
  • Tyler Colvin most likely will not break camp with the team. Because he is a left handed bat, if an injury should occur, he may get the callup.
  • Sean Marshall is still looked at as more of a bullpen guy.

Rogers on Mully and Hanley

Phil Rogers joined Mully and Hanley on 670 the Score today to talk some baseball:

  • Rogers has suggested that the Cubs may be the 3rd or 4th best team in their division.
  • He doesn't think they really have any top level starters. Lilly's injury is a big concern, Z is a question mark, Dempster had one good year, and the back end of the rotation is not set.
  • Phil doesn't think there are very many teams that the Cubs defense is that bad. It is in the middle of the pack.
  • He is excited about seeing Starlin Castro play. Castro came out of the blue and is a total mystery. He will most likely not make the club on Opening Day, but he could be called up mid-season.
  • Castro at short would really help the team's defense.
  • Carlos Marmol would be "Mitch Williamsy" type closer, who gets himself in and out of trouble. Carlos will make the fans nervous, but he has enough stuff to pitch around his wildness.
  • A bigger question mark is the bullpen in front of Marmol. Lou has not done a great job letting guys develop roles in the 'pen the last few seasons.
  • The Cubs really haven't gone out and gotten proven guys to make the relief core better.

That's it for a busy first day of Spring Training! I'll keep you posted!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Spring Training Preview: Non Roster Infielders

Darwin Barney
  • Short Stop
  • B/T: Right
  • Drafted by the Cubs in the 4th round of the June 2007 draft
  • Ranked as "Best Baseball IQ" and "Best Competitiveness" (tie) in the organization by Vineline
  • Hit .293 with 3 homers and 49 RBIs over 137 games split between AA Tennessee and AAA Iowa in 2009
  • My Prediction: Will start the year at AAA

Starlin Castro

  • Short Stop
  • B/T: Right
  • Not drafted
  • Rated top prospect in the organization by Jim Callis of Baseball America
  • Rated "Best Competitiveness" (tie) in the organizaton by Vineline
  • Rated Best range and best arm strength in the organization by a short stop
  • Good contact hitter, hits well in the clutch
  • Best defensive infielder in the system according to Baseball America
  • Is the first player born in the 1990s to be invited to Cubs Spring Training; could become the first Cub born in the '90s to play in a big league game
  • Played for the "World" team in the 2009 futures game (part of MLB All Star Week)
  • Hit .299 over 127 games between Class A Daytona and AA Tennessee in 2009
  • Hit .376 in 26 Arizona Fall League games for the Mesa Solar Sox this offseason
  • Hit just .182 in 8 VWL games this offseason
  • My prediction: Will start the year at AAA

Blake Lalli

  • First baseman
  • B/T: L/R
  • Not drafted
  • Has been in the organization since 2006
  • Hit .314 in 118 games for AA Tennessee in 2009
  • Hit .292 in 7 VWL games this winter
  • My prediction: Will start the year at AAA

Kevin Millar

  • First baseman
  • B/T: Right
  • Signed to a minor league contract with the Cubs earlier this month
  • More info on him in from my Feb. 1 post
  • Great clubhouse guy
  • Won a World Series ring in 2004 with Boston
  • My Prediction: Will make the big league roster and serve a bench role on the Cubs

Chad Tracy

  • 3B/1B/OF
  • B/T: Left/Right
  • Signed a minor league contract with the Cubs late last month
  • Will look to earn a spot on the club in Spring Training
  • Click here for more info from my Jan. 27 post
  • My Prediction: Will be released by the Cubs before the start of the season

Josh Vitters

  • Third baseman
  • B/T: Right
  • Drafted by the Cubs in the first round (3rd overall) of the 2007 June draft
  • Rated #3 prospect in the organization by Jim Callis of Baseball America
  • Puts the ball in play a lot
  • Hit .284 over 120 games split between High A Daytona and Class A Peoria
  • Hit .353 in 16 Arizona Fall League games this offseason
  • My prediction: Will start the year at AA

Tomorrow I'll have a full roundup on all the latest on the Cubs!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Spring Training Preview: Non-Roster Catchers

It's time to continue our look at what we will see in Spring Training. I posted on the non roster preview for pitchers last week. Today is President's Day, and we're just a few days away from the time pitchers and catcher report to Spring Training. Therefore, it's time to check out what minor league catcher will be in Cub camp.

Robinson Chirinos
  • Catcher
  • Bats/Throws: R/R
  • Has been in the Cubs organization since 2001
  • Converted from an infielder into a catcher
  • Rated best defensive catcher in the system by Jim Callis of Baseball America
  • Hit .366 in 48 games in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason
  • Hit .294 during the 2009 regular season, splitting time between Class A Daytona and AA Tennessee
  • My Prediction: Will start the year at AA

Steve Clevenger

  • Catcher
  • Bats/Throws: L/R
  • Drafted by the Cubs in the 7th round of the 2006 June draft
  • Was in big league camp for the first time last year after a great 2008 Arizona Fall League season
  • Hit .290 in 94 games at AAA Iowa and AA Tennessee last season
  • My prediction: Will start the year at AA

Chris Robinson

  • Catcher
  • Bats/Throw: R/R
  • Drafted by the Tigers in the 3rd round of the 2005 June draft
  • Played for team Canada at the 2008 Olympics
  • Came to the Cubs in 2006
  • Spent all of 2009 at AAA, hitting .326 in 91 games
  • My prediction: Will start the year at AAA

In addition to the three non roster invitees, the Cubs have some other backstops from the minors that are on the 40-man roster that will be in camp. I'll tell you about them in a future post. There is a lot of depth at the catching position in this organization, but unless Hill or Soto suffers an injury, all the minor league guys will stay minor league guys. Depth, however, is always a good thing.

This weekend meant the Olympics, NBA All Star Weekend, Valentine's Day, President's Day, and more to most, but to us Cub fans it meant the final weekend without baseball.

Pitchers and catcher report on Wednesdays folks!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentines Day Cubs Roundup

Happy Valentine's Day Cubs' fans!

This is the final weekend without baseball. We can now say these words, "Pitchers and catcher report this week."

Updates from Mesa from Boys of Spring
  • On Friday, the Cubs equipment truck arrived in Arizona.
  • Jeff Samardzija has been added to the list of Cubs to report early to camp and has done a little long toss.
  • Tyler Colvin has gained 25 pounds of weight and muscle. He worked out with Tim Buss all winter.
  • Spring Training invite Bryan LaHair has reported and is hitting some bombs in BP.

Also, Gordon Wittenmyer has written up a nice preview of the season. Click to check it out.

Jim Hendry on The Score

The Cubs GM joined Mully and Hanley on 670 the score on Friday to chat about the upcoming Spring Training camp! Here's the full recap:

  • Hendy is very excited for the start of the 2010 season. He saw a lot of the players this winter, and he thinks they have an "edge" to him.
  • The addition of Rudy Jaramillo was an important move for the Cubs this offseason. He has coached some of the Cubs before, and everyone in the game speaks very highly of him.
  • The Ricketts family are very caring people about the franchise. They want to run a first class organization from top to bottom.
  • Hendy feels really good about the franchise. They took on a lot of money after the 2006 season, but they were rewarded by becoming a good ballclub.
  • Jim feels that he will have the money to do what he wants to do in July.
  • Ted Lilly only got very minor cleanup work. He's on a good throwing program and has had no set backs.
  • Ted may not be behind at all, or he may sit out only a few weeks. You can get by with four starters for the first few weeks of the season.
  • The Cubs are going into camp with a race for the 5th spot in the rotation. Sean Marshall deserves and chance, the Cubs are high on Samardzija, they are hoping to get Silva on track, and they added Gorzelanny last July.
  • Arbitration is a very complicated process. They are not anticipating having any problems with Theriot after the hearing.
  • Hendy said that at the time Milton Bradley looked to be a perfect fit, but it was not meant to be. They new they were going to try to move him early this winter. They were working on some 3 way deals and at one point even a four way deal, but they ran out of options and took the Seattle deal. They liked Carlos in the past, and sometimes people just need a change of scenery.
  • The Cubs feel like Carlos Marmol has earned the right to have the chance to be the closer. He likes the action, and overall his numbers are off the charts. "It's his time."
  • Jim is not worried about Lou. Hendry thinks he still has a lot left in the tank and a lot of passion left.
  • It was Hendry's decision to bring Greg Maddux back. The Ricketts are very supportive, but Jim and his staff make all the baseball decisions.
  • All of the Cub hitters that took a step backwards last year are expected to get back on track under Rudy this season.
  • Starlin Castro is an impressive kid, but "we'll just kind of see how that goes". "He'll tell us when he's ready," the Cub GM said.

My Ten Questions to Watch this Spring

1. How much of an affect can a hitting coach really have?

2. Is Carlos Marmol ready to close?

3. Can Cub hitters coming off down years bounce back?

4. Will the Cubs stay healthy?

5. Will Castro be given a fair shot to make the Opening Day roster?

6. How will the new Cubs perform?

7. Can Randy Wells repeat what he did last season?

8. What will Jeff Samardzija bring to the table?

9. How will Ryan Theriot's arbitration affect his play?

10. Is the bullpen deep enough? Will the Cubs' add to it?

Yesterday, we took a lot at non roster pitcher with Spring Training invites. This week, we continue our breakdown of the guys that will be in camp.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Spring Training Preview: Non Roster Pitchers

Today we begin our first look at what we will see this March, when the Cubs take the field for the first time in 2010. When the Cubs are in Arizona, there we'll be some position battles, comebacks, stories, and injuries to watch regarding the big league players in camp, but that preview will come later. Today we take a look at the minor league pitchers that have been invited to big league camp.

Andrew Cashner
  • RHP
  • Was drafted by the Cubs in the first round (19th) of the 2008 MLB June Amateur draft.
  • Rated the top pitcher prospect in the Cubs organization by Jim Callis of Baseball America.
  • Cubs #4 prospect overall.
  • Rated best fastball and slider by Baseball America
  • Rated "Best Mechanics", and "Best Slider" in the Cubs system by Vineline.
  • Started 12 games with Class A Daytona last year, his 1.50 ERA earned him a promotion.
  • Then started 12 games at AA Tennessee, going 3-4 with a 3.39 ERA.

Casey Coleman

  • RHP, bats left handed
  • Drafted by the Cubs in the 15th round of the June 2008 draft
  • Rated "Best command" by Vineline
  • Rated best changeup and control by Baseball America
  • 14-6 with a 3.68 ERA with AA Tennessee in 2009

Thomas Diamond

  • RHP
  • Aquired by the Cubs on September 4, 2009 after he was DFA'd by the Rangers 3 days prior
  • Underwent Tommy John and missed the entire 2007 season
  • Went 2-3 with a 4.20 ERA in 38 games between AA and AAA last year (32 in AA)
  • Went 2-0 with an 0.64 ERA in 3 games in winter ball in Mexico this offseason

Jeff Kennard

  • RHP
  • Signed a minor league contract with the Cubs on January 12, 2010
  • Has spent time in the Yankees (2001-2007), Angels (2007-'08) and Reds (2009) organizations
  • Has yet to make big league debut
  • 3-1 with a 2.83 ERA in 40 games for AAA Louisville in 2009
  • 0-1 with a 3.86 ERA in 6 games in Dominican Winter League this offseason
  • An interesting name to watch this spring

J.R. Mathes

  • LHP
  • Drafted by the Cubs in the 16th round of the 2004 draft
  • Real name is Alfred George Mathes
  • Born in Granger, IN
  • good command
  • 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA in 26 games (21 starts) for AAA Iowa in 2009
  • 1-2 with a 5.08 ERA in 6 games in the Venezuelan Winter League this offseason

Vince Perkins

  • RHP (bats left handed)
  • Has spent 8 seasons in the minors
  • Has been in the Tonorto ('01-'05), Milwauke (2007) and Cubs (2009) organizations
  • Played for team Canada in the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classics
  • 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 6 games for the Smokies last year, before being moved up to AAA where he went 6-2 with a 3.48 ERA

James Russell

  • LHP
  • Drafted by the Cubs in the 14th round of the June 2007 draft
  • Struggled as a starter, found new life in the bullpen
  • 2-3 with a 5.11 ERA in 11 games (6 starts) at AA Tennessee in 2009
  • 3-3 with a 3.43 ERA in 26 games (7 starts) for AAA Iowa
  • 0-1 with a 1.26 ERA in 11 games in the Arizona Fall League for the Mesa Solar Sox last fall

Guy to Watch for the Future: Andrew Cashner

Best Chance to Make the Club: J.R. Mathes

Most Underrated: Thomas Diamond

Up Next: The Non Roster Hitters

Friday, February 12, 2010

40 Players at Fitch Park?

As Jim Hendry reported yesterday, the Cubs already have 40 guys (major and minor leaguers) in spring camp and the required date for pitchers and catchers has yet to come! Workouts for the hurlers and receivers officially get underway next Thursday.

Carlos Zambrano, Tyler Colvin, John Grabow, Randy Wells, Sam Fuld, and Kevin Millar are some of the guys that have reported a week early to Mesa, Arizona, where it's in the 60s and 70s and sunny!

Time for some Quick Hits:

We'll have our full "Spring Training Preview" series started this weekend!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Jim Hendry on Waddle & Silvy

Jim Hendry checked in to talk Cubs on ESPN 1000 today:
  • Before Bradley, the Cubs always went after good chemistry guys. The didn't do something totally different this offseason by getting Millar and Byrd, it was more "back to the norm".
  • Offensively Milton was the right guy. If he would have hit like he normally did the first couple of months, a lot of the problems would not have occur.
  • Hendy said that Bradley got off to a bad start and then it got away from him.
  • Jim thinks the Cubs are much better than they were last year. They need a lot of guys to get on track, and Rudy Jaramillo should help with that. The Cubs didn't need a lot of new bodies, they just need guys to come back and play like they did in '07 and '08.
  • Having veterans on the bench and in the bullpen is important (hence the Millar and Tracy adds).
  • The Cubs are still looking to make another move before or during camp. They need a veteran guy in the 'pen.
  • The guys coming in on Non Roster Invites have a good chance to compete for spots.
  • The Cubs did like Jermaine Dye. Hendy spoke to Dye and his agent. Jermaine and Nady were two of the Cubs options for 4th outfielder.
  • The team is done adding position players. If they make any more moves, it will be to sign pitchers.
  • The Ricketts family has given Jim a fair budget.
  • More good, young players are coming, and it's time for guys like Marshall, Samardzija, and Marmol to get more of a chance to have bigger roles.
  • Hendy thinks that the Ricketts will be great owners for the city of Chicago long after his tenure with the Cubs.
  • Alfonso is a good guy, a good teammate, he wants to win, and he does care when he doesn't do well. Having Rudy with him should help him find out what he needs to do to get back on track. The Cubs will be happy if he hits .270-.275 and 30+ home runs.
  • Sori's speed game will never return because of the injuries, but he should be able to avoid the long slumps this year.
  • The Cubs do not do the promoting for their own prospects. The organization is not looking to over-hype Starlin Castro. He is a very talented guy who has a chance to play well on both sides of the ball. "He'll let us know when he's ready."
  • The team has settled 36 arbitration cases in a row, but if it end up going to a trial, that's just part of the business. Neither side likes it, but it is what it is.
  • Ted Lilly had a very minor procedure. The Cubs have never been worried about it. If he's 100% the first week of the season, he'll pitch then. If not, they won't rush him. The first few weeks you have some off days, therefore do not need five starters.

Paul Sullivan joined the Danny Mac Show on 670 the Score yesterday:

  • The Cubs are going to open up the bottom of the bleachers in the area underneath the cat walk in right field. That will be opened up before the game for corporate events. During the game, it will be open to fans with flat screen TVs, beverage stands, ect.
  • They have already begun constructing this at Wrigley.
  • The Cubs are looking to get people to stay in the ballpark to spend money after the games, instead of going to the bars and restaurants to spend their money before and after games.
  • Sullivan thinks it's worrisome that Wrigley is using many ideas that the Red Sox are using for Fenway Park.
  • Sully doesn't like the idea of advertising in the left field bleachers.
  • He would like to see the Cubs come up with their own ideas instead of copying everything off of Boston.
  • Ricketts is into statistical thinking, but Jim Hendy is definitely old school and loves scouting first.

That's it for now!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Chicago Cubs All Decade Team- Pitchers

On Tuesday, the best position player by position of the 2000s were announced here on Everything Cubs blog. Today we round out our team with the pitching staff. Remember that all members of the All Decade team are based on fan voting, which has been going on on our site most of the winter. Only time spent in a Cub uniform in the 2000s will be considered.

Ace of the Rotation- Kerry Wood
Wood received the most votes among all starting pitchers despite the fact that his Cub career was injury-riddled and that he is most remember for a game that was not in this decade- the 20 K game in 1998.
Years with the Cubs: 1998-2008
Became a Cub on: June 4, 1994 when he was the 4th pick in the amateur draft
Left the Cubs on: December 10, 2008 when he signed with the Cleveland Indians.
Record as a Cub this decade: 64-55
ERA in Cub Career: 3.65 in 276 games
Saves: 34 (all in 2008)
Awards/Honors: Led the NL in Ks per 9 innings in 2003, Led the NL in strikeouts in '03, NL All Star in 2003 and 2008.
Where is he now?: In the second year of his two year deal with Cleveland

#2 Starter- Greg Maddux
Years with the Cubs: 2004-2006 (also 1986-1992)
Became a Cub on: March 23, 2004 when he signed to begin his second stint with the club he started his career with
Left the Cubs on: July 31, 2006 when he was traded on the day of the MLB Trade Deadline so that he could go to a contending team in the LA Dodgers. The Cubs got Cesar Izturis in the deal.
Records: 16-11 in 2004, 13-15 in 2005, and 9-11 in 2006
ERA in Cub Career: 3.61 in 302 games (counting both stints)
ERA in decade: 4.02 in '04, 4.24 in '05, and 4.69 in '06
Awards/Honors: Too many to list in his career, but none in second stint with the Cubs. #31 was retired by the Cubs in May of 2009 in honor of Greg and Fergie Jenkins.
Notes: As with Wood, it's obvious that voter were affected by performance outside of this decade. I'm glad both Kerry and Greg made this cut for this team, despite the fact that there numbers were not the best among Cubs' starting pitchers in this decade.
Where is he now?: Maddux has returned the organization for the 3rd time, this time as a front office member. He's a special assistant to GM Jim Hendry.

#3 Starter- Carlos Zambrano
Time with the Cubs: 2001-present
Became a Cub on: July 12, 1997 when he was signed as an amateur FA
Record: 105-68
ERA: 3.51 in 259 games
Most memorable moment: Perfect game against the Astros at Miller Park in 2008
Awards/Honors: NL All Star in 2004, 2006, & 2008; NL Silver Slugger in '06, '08, & '09; led the league in wins in 2006
Where is he now?: Signed with the Cubs through 2012, plus 2013 vesting option

#4 Starter- Ted Lilly
Time with the Cubs: 2007-present
Became a Cub on: December 15, 2006 when he signed as a free agent
Record: 44-26
ERA: 3.70 in 95 games with the Cubs
Awards/Honors: 2009 NL All Star, only Cub in the mid-summer classic; the "Bulldog" led the league in games started in 2008
Notes: Has his own fan club!
Where is he now?: Signed through 2010

Closer: Joe Borowski
Time with the Cubs: 2001-2005
Became a Cub on: December 11, 2000 when he signed as a free agent
Left the Cubs on: June 29, 2005 when he was released
Saves: 44 (33 in '03)
ERA: 3.73 in 175 games
Awards/Honors: None as a Cub, but he led the AL in Saves in '07
Notes: Remembered as part of the 2003 Cubs that went to the NLCS
Where is he now?: Announced his retirement on February 24, 2009. Lives in Scottsdale, AZ.

Thanks to everyone who helped by voting!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Tuesday Quick Hits: Theriot, Packin' the Bags, and More

Bruce Levine's weekly chat was today, and here are the highlights:

  • The Cubs will not sign Felipe Lopez because if chemistry and cash issues.
  • Levine still thinks that Castro should be given a shot to be the starting short stop.
  • The Cubs are continuing to pursue trades to bolster the bullpen. Right now, they would be putting a lot of pressure on guys like Jeff Gray, Esmalin Caridad, and Angel Guzman.
  • San Diego and Toronto are still teams that they would like to strike up a deal with for a reliever.
  • Sam Fuld will get a good shot at making the team because he is one of the few guys they have that brings speed and defense.
  • There was never any interest in Kris Benson. Bruce says that those rumors started with a favor to an agent by a media member.
  • If the Cubs have good health, there's no reason to think they won't contend.
  • Bruce thinks that having guys with good "character" is overrated, and Kevin Millar will only help if he can bring something on the field.
  • Lilly should be somewhere between 2 and 3 weeks behind.
  • Carlos Silva is a total mystery and nobody seems to know what to expect.
  • If Jeff Samardzija has solidified his slider and added to his repertoire, than he'll have a chance.
  • The Cubs really like Jeff Gray, who they got from the A's in the deal that sent Fox and Miles the other way.
  • John Gaub, who came in the DeRosa deal, could be a dark horse that makes the team out of Spring Training.
  • Levine's Opening Day lineup: Kosuke, Theriot, Lee, Ramirez, Byrd, Soriano, Soto, Castro, Zambrano
  • Despite his success in 2009, the Cubs still feel Jeff Baker is a part time player.
  • Bruce is all for the Cubs offering Lilly and Lee extensions after this season.
  • A nutritionist will plan the players' meals this season.
  • Although Millar most likely will not help the Cubs, he can hit left handed pitching.
  • Soriano's days as a leadoff man are done.
  • Theriot's hearing will be heard sometime around the weekend of Feb. 20.
  • Tracy and Hoffpauir will compete for bench spots.
  • Zambrano is Bruce's pick to have a bounce back year.

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted as we count the days...

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Chicago Cubs All Decade Team- Position Players

The Chicago Cubs went 733-737 in the 2000s, but the ten "average" years will never be forgotten by most fans. This winter, you've been voting on the polls on our sidebar that asked you: "Who is the Cubs top (blank position) of the 2000s?", so now we put those poll-winners together for the Chicago Cubs all Decade Team...

*Note that all stats are from 2000-2009 only, with the Cubs only!

Catcher- Joe Girardi
Years with Cubs: 2000-2002
Became a Cub: On December 15, 1999 when he was signed
Batting Averages: .278, .253, .226
Awards/Honors: 2000 NL All Star Team
Notes: This was his second stint with the Cubs!
Where is he now: Manager of the New York Yankees

First Base- Derrek Lee
Years with Cubs: 2004-present
Became a Cub on: November 25, 2003 when he was traded from Florida in exchange for Mike Nannini and Hee Seop Choi.
Batting Average as a Cub: .304 in 815 Games
Awards/Honors: 2005 and 2007 NL All Star Team; 2005 NL batting title; 2003, 2005, and 2007 NL Gold Glove at 1B.
Notes: Signed through 2010

Second Base- Mark DeRosa
Years with the Cubs: 2007-2008
Became a Cub on: November 14, 2006 signed as a FA
Left the Cubs on: December 31, 2008 when he was traded to Cleveland for Jeff Stevens, John Gaub, and Chris Archer
Batting Average as a Cub: .289 in 298 games
Notes: Played 2B, 3B, RF, 1B, LF, and SS in both seasons with the Cubs.
Where is he now: Signed with SF Giants

Shortstop- Ryan Theriot
Years with the Cubs: 2005-present
Became a Cub on: September 13, 2005 when he made his big league debut
Batting Average as a Cub: .288 in 513 games
Honors/Awards: Led the NL in singles in 2007 and 2008
Notes: Currently looking to avoid arbitration with club

Third Base- Aramis Ramirez
Years with the Cubs: 2003-present
Became a Cub on: July 23, 2003 when he was traded from the Pirates with Kenny Lofton for Matt Bruback, Jose Hernandez, and Bobby Hill.
Batting Average as a Cub: .300 in 851 games
Honors/Awards: 2005 and 2008 NL All Star; 2008 Hank Aaron Award
Notes: Signed through 2011, plus 2012 club option

Outfield- Sammy Sosa
Years with the Cubs: 1992-2004
Became a Cub on: March 30, 1992 when the White Sox sent him to the North Side along with Ken Patterson in return for George Bell
Left the Cubs on: February 2, 2005 when the Cubs sent him to Baltimore for Dave Crouthers, Mike Fontenot, and Jerry Hairston
Batting Averages in 2000s: .320, .328, .288, .279, and .253
Honors/Awards: 2001, 2002, and 2004 NL All Star; 2000, '01, and '02 NL Silver Slugger; led NL in runs scored in 2001 and '02; led league in HR in 2000 and 2002; led NL in RBIs in 2001; and led the NL in Intentional Base on Balls in 2001 (with 37!)
Where is he now?: Announced his retirement on June 3, 2009 after the World Baseball Classic. He is currently "calmy waiting" his induction into the Hall of Fame.
Notes: *

Outfield- Moises Alou
Years with the Cubs: 2002-2004
Became a Cub on: December 19, 2001 when he signed with the Cubs
Left the Cubs on: January 5, 2005 when he signed with the Giants
Batting Average as a Cub: .283 in 438 games
Honors/Awards: 2004 NL All Star
Where is he now?: On March 5, 2009 announced that he would retire after the World Baseball Classic. He is now the GM for a Dominican Winter League team.
Notes: One of the few MLB players who batted without batting gloves.

Outfield- Alfonso Soriano
Years with the Cubs: 2007-present
Became a Cub on: November 20, 2006 when he signed with the team
Batting Average as a Cub: .275 in 361 games
Honors/Awards: 2007 and 2008 NL All Star
Notes: Signed through 2014- so he could be on the "All Cubs Decade Team 2010-2020", or also might end up on the "Not-So All Decade Team 2010-2020". Time will tell.

Up Next: The Pitchers

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Thinkin' Baseball on Super Bowl Sunday?

While the Indianapolis Colts will meet the New Orleans Saints in Super Bowl XLIV coming up at 5:25 CT, the Cubs continue to prepare for the upcoming season. Once the Super Bowl is over, most of America is ready for spring, and with spring comes baseball.

Two Cubs have already reported to Mesa, Arizona to get a head start, Carlos Zambrano and Kevin Millar. The rest of the team will report on February 17, which is just ten days away!

Derrek Lee joined the MLB Network's Hot Stove last week on Tuesday:
  • Lee talked about how tough it is to get on the NL All Star teams a first baseman because of the masses of first base talent.
  • D-Lee thinks the main thing reporting to Spring Training is to not get too far ahead of yourself.
  • Theriot and Kosuke will hit in front of Lee in the batting order.
  • He talked a little bit about his daughter's situation and Project 3000. You can go to for more info!

Ryan Dempster joined Chicago Tribune Live on Wednesday:

  • Demp has been watching a lot of hockey lately.
  • Blackhawk's defenseman Duncan Keith thinks Demp could score a goal in the NHL.
  • Ryan is really excited about the Blackhawks and the Olympics coming up.
  • He thinks the Hawks are a Stanley Cup title contender.
  • Dempster went to a Bulls game in the past dressed as Kirk Heinrich.
  • Of Hawks and Bulls talk in the first segment, the guys finally turned to the Cubs. Dempster cannot believe that this is going to be his seventh year with the Cubs. "Time flies," he said.
  • He thinks the Cubs had a good team on paper in 2009, but they just had an off year.
  • This year, the team plans to be right back where they were in 2007 and 2008.
  • Dempster thinks that starting pitchers could go a lot deeper into games than they are allowed to at times.
  • A lot of different thinks contributed to the struggles of Milton Bradley in Chicago.
  • The 2010 Cubs will start fresh and just go forward from there.
  • Ryan thinks that if the Cubs win the World Series, players will have to be air lifted out of Wrigley Field.
  • He is humbled an honored to know that he has played in Chicago for seven years.
  • Demp would like to believe that the game is totally clean, but there could always be something going on that we don't even know about yet.
  • Ryan loves Lou Piniella as a manger and has a great relationship with him. He has a lot of baseball knowledge and is fun to talk ball with.
  • Dempster will be honored at the 22nd annual Comcast Sports Net awards on Thursday (February 11).
  • Having Riley (his daughter) in his life has really changed Ryan's life. Dempster says he is lucky to have his wife. The way Riley fights on a daily basis makes Ryan want to be an even better baseball player.
  • Going public with his daughter's disease could help Riley and many other children.
  • Cubs first baseman Kevin Millar called in live to the show to say hi to Dempster and Chuck (the host who was filling in for Kaplan. Millar has been staying in shape, and is hoping to take Dempster deep in inter-squad games.
  • Kevin says that the big thing with getting over a curse (like he did in Boston, and will hopefully do in Chicago in 2010) is the team coming together and not believing in any of "that".
  • The 2003 and 2004 Red Sox were normal guys who didn't listen to any of the negative stuff.
  • Millar and Dempster are like brothers. They played together with the Florida Marlins.
  • Kevin thinks Chicago is one of the greatest cities ever, and is looking forward to the challenges of trying to break the curse.
  • Dempster called Millar "one of the greatest teammates he's had".
  • In 2008, when Dempster guaranteed the Cubs would win the World Series, Millar replied by guaranteeing his team, the Orioles would win the World Series.

Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry is a Colts fan, while assistant GM Randy Bush roots on the Saints. Hendry will be in attendance for tonight's game in South Florida.

More Cubs stuff tomorrow!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Levine's Chat & Miller on ESPN 1000

Chat'n with Bruce
Earlier this week, on Tuesday, Bruce Levine hosted his weekly chat over at Here's the recap:
  • Xavier Nady could be the "diamond in the rough" that pays dividends for the 2010 Chicago Cubs.
  • At this point, the Cubs don't really have the money for Heath Bell and are more likely to look at Luke Gregorson.
  • Adam Kennedy has been on the radar for awhile, but money is an issue.
  • Chad Tracy will compete with Hoffpauir and Millar for the 24th or 25th spot on the roster.
  • At this point, trades and minor league contracts are the only things the Cubs can do.
  • Starlin Castro is going to get his shot to be the Opening Day short stop. Lou Piniella and his staff will decide in Spring Training if Starlin is ready.
  • Levine thinks the Cubs' defense will be improved in 2010, because Kosuke is an upgrade over Bradley in right while Byrd is an upgrade over Kosuke in center.
  • Ryan Theriot is the Cubs second baseman of the future.
  • John Smoltz is still out there, but at age 43, he may have nothing left to bring.
  • Ownership is taking a "wait and see approach" in 2010.
  • Ryan told Bruce at the Cubs Convention that he will gladly move to second base to make room for Castro at short.
  • Andrew Cashner could get called up to the bullpen at some point this year.
  • Cashner could be tossed into the late inning mix if someone goes down, but for now he will start in the minors.
  • All indications are that Ted Lilly is on track and will be ready to throw in Spring Training.
  • Sam Fuld could make the team over Tracy or Millar because of his speed and defense.
  • The Cubs are not thrilled about the direction Theriot's arbitration case has gone.
  • A Luke Gregorson for Angel Guzman swap was mentioned by Levine once again.
  • Castro is not a patient hitter at this point, but he bring five tool possibilities down the line.
  • There have been rumblings of the Cubs trying to extend the contracts of Lee and Lou.

Kevin Millar with Waddle & Silvy on ESPN 1000

  • Millar is already in Mesa getting some work in.
  • He came up as a third baseman and loves that position. He wants to prove he can play 1B, 3B, and OF.
  • Kevin enjoys coming off the bench in the National League because you have a good chance to get in the game each night.
  • Millar understands that a lot of people look at stats, but he pointed out that he will also bring out leadership qualities and World Series Winning experience.
  • He was a teammate of Derrek Lee and Ryan Dempster in Florida.
  • Kevin wants to only worry about the things he can control.
  • He thinks he can bring a lot to a clubhouse in addition to being a right handed bat off the bench. "Team chemistry is NOT overrated," he said.
  • The experience of overcoming the curse in Boston could help Millar in Chicago. The 2005 Red Sox didn't care about everything people said. They just believed they could win the game each night.
  • "This whole curse still isn't funny. It's not the love-able loser thing any more," Millar said.
  • He thinks that Jim Hendry has done a great job bringing in some good guys this winter. Kevin expects it to be a different situation.
  • At this point, he had not had a chance to talk with Lou Piniella, but Millar is looking forward to playing for Sweet Lou.
  • Millar seemed like a very friendly, down to earth guy. Personally, I'm rooting for him to make the club.

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

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Thursday Roundup: Marmol, TV Schedule, and More

Baseball is right around the corner! In fact, it's on my television as we speak! (Carribean World Series on MLB Network).

However, we still have a few more weeks of waiting before baseball returns here in America when pitchers and catchers report on February 18. And in that time span, things could get interesting, with teams scrambling to set their rosters and players scrambling to find a home.

The Cubs on TV!
The Cubs' 2010 regular season broadcast schedule has been released. The Cubs' Opening day game against the Braves on April 5 will be on WCIU. The Cubs will be on FOX Saturday night baseball two times this year. The Saturday night games are a new feature on FOX. They will be on ESPN's Sunday night baseball for the first time this year just before the All Star Break when they meet the Dodgers in LA. Most games will be on either CSN Chicago or WGN with the rest on WCIU, CSN+, MLBN, ESPN, ESPN2, or FOX.

Marmol Signs One Year Deal
Today the Cubs avoided arbitration with Carlos Marmol, agreeing on a one year deal. Marmol is expected to be the Cubs' closer this season, after he took the job from Kevin Gregg late in 2009. Marmol's contract is worth $2.125 million according to Bruce Levine.

Theriot to Hearing
The lone Cub that has yet to avoid arbitration by agreeing to a contract with the club is short stop Ryan Theriot. According to Bruce Levine, this one is headed for a trial. The hearings take place between February 8-20 in Flordia. The-Riot is asking for $3.4 million, but the Cubs offer was just $2.6 million. Arbitrators will pick one of the two numbers, not decide on the dollar amount somewhere in between.

Cubs To Finish 3rd?
Baseball Prospectus projects a 79-83 Cub record and the following NL Central Standings:
1. St. Louis Cardinals 84-78
2. Cincinnati Reds 82-80
3. Chicago Cubs 79-83
4. Milwaukee Brewers 79-83
5. Houston Astros 76-86
6. Pittsburgh Pirates 70-92

That's it for now, but I'll keep you posted as the Cubs look for a bullpen arm and try to settle the Theriot case!