Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Midweek Roundup: Theriot to St. Lou, Marmol Wants an Extension & More

Theriot to St. Louis
Former Cubs shortstop Ryan Theriot has been traded from the Dodgers to the Cardinals. The Riot returns to the NL Central after spending six seasons in the Windy City before being traded at the deadline this past July. Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Cardinals view Theriot as more of a shortstop. Right handed pitcher Blake Hawksworth was shipped to LA in the deal.

Cubs Pitching Coach Decision May Not Come Tomorrow
As a mentioned in yesterday's post, Carrie Muskat has reported that the Cubs will be naming their new pitching coach on Wednesday. Bruce Miles reports that the Cubs say that that is not true and an announcement at the winter meetings next week is more likely.

Marmol Want an Extension
Bruce Miles also tells us that Carlos Marmol has said he wants a long term extension. Barry Praver, Marmol's agent, has been contacted and says he did have talks with Jim Hendry at the GM Meetings. However, these talks do not seem to be far down the line.

Looking at Arms?
According to MLBTR, the Cubs are looking to add an insurance arm even though they have five (actually 6-7) starters. Jeremy Bonderman, Aaron Harang, Kevin Milwood and Vincente Padilla are all in the mix.

Coming Soon: Cubs Spring Training Schedule
Usually the Cubs Spring Training schedule have been released by this time in the offseason. Al Yellon from Bleed Cubbie Blue tells us that the Diamondbacks and Giants were being considered to open to regular season in Taiiwan, so this delayed the process. Another detail that the Cubs are hammering out is whether or not they will return to Las Vegas for a split squad weekend. They have played the White Sox in Vegas each of the last two springs. The schedule should be released later this week.

Jesse Crain a Hot Name
Peter Gammons tweets that Jesse Crain may be one of the hottest relievers on the market. The Cubs are one of nine teams who may be interested in the former Twin.

Deadline to Tender Contracts on the Way
Thursday is the deadline for teams to offer contracts to unsigned players that are arbitration eligible. Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, Tom Gorzelanny, Geovany Soto, Jeff Baker and Koyie Hill are all arbitration elgible guys this winter. Marmol, Marshall, Gorzelanny and Soto are givens to be brought back, but there is some question when it comes to Baker and Hill. Jim Hendry would like to lock up all six players by Thursday so that arbitration is out of the question.

Former Cub Notes
Thanks to the CCO for this one, ex-Cubs lefty Neal Cotts inked a minor league deal with the New York Yankees. Josh Kroeger has landed with the Marlins organization while Doug Deeds has a minor league contract with the Rangers. Russ Canzler, who played for the Tennessee Smokies in 2010, has left the organization and singed with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Cubs Poll
Thanks to everyone who voted on our last poll on the right sidebar! There is a new one up that asks you to grade Larry Rothschild's time with the Cubs. Don't forget to vote!

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

Monday, November 29, 2010

Breaking Down the Options for Cubs Pitching Coach

Cubs.com's Carrie Muskat tweeted today that she expects the Cubs to name a new pitching coach on Wednesday. With just two days until Mike Quade's staff will actually be complete, let's break down some of the candidates to replace Larry Rothschild.

Mark Riggins
Many big league sources are reporting that Riggins, the Cubs minor league pitching coordinator, is the favorite to land the gig. The Cubs are expected to stay within the organization for the hire and Mark seems like the right guy. He briefly appeared as a big league coach with the Cardinals in 1995 before becoming the Cards pitching coordinator from 1996 to 2007 before filling the same role with the Cubs starting in 2008. He spent five seasons as a left handed pitcher in the St. Louis chain.

Lester Strode
Strode is the only candidate who has plenty of big league experience. He has been on the Cubs staff as the bullpen coach since 2007. During that time, Lester has also served as an assistant pitching coach to Larry Rothschild. After a nine year minor league pitching career, Strode become a coaching in the Cubs system, first with the Peoria Chiefs ('91-'92) and then as the minor league pitching coordinator.

Mike Mason
Mason's name is a familiar one to most because he spent six years in the big leagues including a brief stint with the Cubs during the 1987 season. The bulk of his career was spent with the Rangers. Mason has been a minor league pitching coach since 1991 and has been the Triple-A Iowa Cubs pitching coach since 2008.

Dennis Lewallyn
The final main candidate with a shot to fill the void on Mike Quade's staff is Dennis Lewallyn. He instructed guys like Chris Archer, Austin Bibens-Dirkx, Chris Carpenter and Craig Muschko this season at Double-A Tennessee. The eight year big league right hander has been the Smokies pitching coach since 2007 and a minor league coach since 1995. Dennis was the D'back minor league pitching coordinator for five years before departing for the Cubs system.

The good thing about all four guys is that they have a strong knowledge of the Cubs organization and its players. It think it is the right move to stay inside the system for this hire.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cubs Roster if the Season Started Tomorrow

Unfortunately, the season does not start tomorrow. If it did, however, here is what I would expect the Cubs depth chart to look like. My expected 25-man roster is broken down into eight starting position players, five bench guys, five starting pitchers, and seven bullpen arms. I base the roster only off the players currently under contract with the Cubs. I will update every once in a while the rest of the winter.

Starting Rotation
1. Ryan Dempster
2. Carlos Zambrano
3. Randy Wells
4. Carlos Silva
5. Tom Gorzelanny

Others in the Rotation Mix in Spring Training
Casey Coleman
Jeff Samardzija
Andrew Cashner

Closer- Carlos Marmol
LH Setup Man- Sean Marshall
RH Setup Man- Andrew Cashner
LH Middle Relief- John Grabow
RH Middle Relief- Jeff Samardzija
Long Relief- Casey Coleman
Long Relief-Justin Berg

Others in the Bullpen Mix in Spring Training
Chris Archer
Thomas Diamond
Scott Maine
John Gaub
Esmalin Caridad
Angel Guzman
Brian Schlitter

Starting Position Players
Catcher- Geovany Soto
1B- Tyler Colvin
2B- Blake DeWitt
SS- Starlin Castro
3B- Aramis Ramirez
LF- Alfonso Soriano
CF- Marlon Byrd
RF- Kosuke

Koyie Hill
Jeff Baker
Darwin Barney
Sam Fuld
Bryan LaHair

Others in the Mix
Welington Castillo
Brandon Guyer
Robinson Chirinos
Scott Moore

I'll update my projections as the offseason moves along!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Who's on the Cubs Shopping List?

In honor of Black Friday, it is time for us to take a look at who the Cubs are looking at this winter. The Cubs are in need of relief pitching, a first baseman, bench depth and possibly a starting pitcher. Here is a list of names that have been associated with the team this winter.

  • Lance Berkman: Ken Rosenthal lists the Cubs as one of eight teams interested in the former 'Stros first baseman.
  • Javier Vazquez: The Cubs have taken a look at the starting pitcher, but Marlins are the frontrunners.
  • Adam Dunn: Jim Hendry has not yet connected to slugger, but Carlos Zambrano has said that he would love to have Dunn on his side. Jayson Stark has indicated that the Cubs will look to go after a better defender.
  • Andrian Gonzalez: It's a long shot, but Ivy Report believes that the Cubs need to strike fast and trade for the Padres star.
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka: The Red Sox have no interest is swapping Japanese players in a Kosuke for Daisuke trade.
  • Cliff Lee: Jon Heyman names the Cubs as a possible surprising suitor for the big lefty.
  • Jon Garland: The former White Sox could be an option for the rotation after indicating that he was interested in pitching for the Cubs last winter.
  • Kerry Wood: As most of you have said in our poll on the right sidebar, Cubs fans would welcome Woody back. It is unclear whether or not he would take less money to pitch in middle relief for the Cubs.
  • Carlos Pena: Bruce Miles says the Cubs have been "keeping an eye" on Pena to fill the void at first base.
  • Vicente Padilla: Still on the Cubs starting pitcher radar.
  • Jason Frasor: Bruce Levine has been connected this reliever to the Cubs for the past three winters.
  • Nick Johnson: A report from the Chicago Tribune earlier this month connected the Cubs to first baseman Nick Johnson. It is unclear whether Johnson would be the starter or serve as a backup to Tyler Colvin or another guy that the Cubs ink.

Let the shopping begin!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

What are Cubs Fans Thankful For?

It was a tough year, but there are still some things for Cubs fans to be thankful for!
  • We can get our baseball fix this holiday weekend as a Cubs Classic airs on Comcast Sports Net at 11am today.
  • The minor league system is full of bright young stars.
  • Only two months until the Cubs Convention.
  • Only three months until Spring Training.
  • The MLB Network has great baseball coverage all year around.
  • Site like Bleed Cubbie Blue, Chicago Cubs Online, and The Cub Reporter where Cubs fans can come together to discus their favorite team.
  • Larry Rothschild is gone!
  • The Cubs play the Pirates on Opening Day at Wrigley... sounds like a W!
  • The Cubs get to play the Red Sox and Yankees next season, which will make for some fun series.
  • Our roster includes talented players like Marlon Byrd, Carlos Marmol, Tyler Colvin, and Starlin Castro.
  • We have the greatest fan base in all of professional sports. Someday we're going to go all the way.

Go Cubs Go!!! Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Jim Hendry on Talkin' Baseball

Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild left the team last week to take a job with the New York Yankees. Immediately, speculations about Greg Maddux replacing Larry started, but this situation does not seem likely. Other guys inside the organization like Mike Mason (AAA Iowa), Lester Strode (bullpen coach) and Mark Riggins (minor league roving pitching coach).

Jim Hendry spent some time on ESPN 1000 this week to talk Cubs with the crew on Talkin' Baseball:
  • The conclusion to Larry Rothschild's tenure with the Cubs came to an end rather quickly.
  • This didn't come as a complete shock to Jim. Hendry and Rothschild have a good relationship.
  • This was a family decision for Larry.
  • It is still early to tell, but the Cubs are looking to find the best first baseman them can. Moving Tyler Colvin to first is a possibility. Colvin is prepared to do either one.
  • Colvin's role will be dictated by who else the Cubs get.
  • This year's GM Meetings were more business-lie than in the past. There was not a whole lot of time for trade talk.
  • Crane Kenney told Bruce that the Cubs should have some money to spend.
  • Hendry believes that the team will be able to add a piece or two. They will also look for a trade or two in the offseason.
  • The Cubs expect to fill the pitching coach void within the next week or two. They plan to go inside the organization and make a hire soon.

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

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Award Week Roundup: Hoffpauir to Japan, Ryno to Lehigh Valley, Cubscast Shut Down, & More

Sandberg to Manage in Phillies' Chain
Ryne Sandberg was named the manager of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs this week. The Iron Pigs are the Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies this week. Sandberg has taken the job just weeks after turning down the same position (AAA manager) in the Cubs organization.

Hoffpauir to Play in Japan
According to a tweet from the Chicago Tribune, Micah Hoffpauir's time in the Cubs organization is history. Hoff has signed a one-year deal to play with the Nippan Ham Fighters in Japan. This leaves the Cubs 40-man roster at 35. With Xavier Nady expected to leave via free agency, the Cubs have no first basemen left on the 40-man.

Football at Wrigley
For the first time since 1938, a college football game will take place at Wrigley Field. The Northwestern Wildcats will take on the University of Illinois. The marquee has been painted purple in preparation for the Wrigleyville Classic, which will take place on Saturday on ESPN.

Cubscast Off the Air
Every week, especially during the winter months, I look forward to getting my Cubs fix from Cubscast. Lou and Shepps have done a fine job producing these "by fans for fans" shows for the last six years. MLB Advance Media has shut this podcast down because they were upset with the use of the team name and colors on the site. Click here to read a note from Lou and listen to the final Cubscast.

The Cubs Get More of Moore
Thanks to the CCO for this one- Scott Moore has signed a minor league deal to return to the Cubs organization. He was originally acquired by the Cubs in February of 2005 and then was shipped to Detriot in August of 2007.

Awards News
The BBWAA awards are being announced throughout the month. The Cubs have been blanked in both Silver Sluggers and Gold Gloves. So far they have not had any better of luck with the other awards. Neftali Feliz has been named the AL Rookie of the Year while Buster Posey takes home the honor in the National League. Starlin Castro got three third place votes and finished in fifth place. San Diego's Bud Black edged ex-Cubs skipper Dusty Baker for the NL Manager of the Year award, while Ron Gardenhire takes home the AL honor. Roy Halladay received all 32 first place votes to take the NL Cy Young Award. The American League's Cy Young will be announced tomorrow. Both league MVPs will be announced next week.

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

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Getting to Know the Cubs: Pat Listach

Let us go back to our "Getting to Know the Cubs" series by learning a little bit more about the new bench coach for the Chicago Cubs.

Full Name: Patrick Alan Listach

Birthday: September 12

Age: 43

Position (during career): shortstop

College: Arizona State

Drafted: 5th round in 1988 by the Brewers
Teams: Brewers ('92-'96) and Astros ('97)

Career Stats: .251 AVG, 5 HR, 143 RBIs
Minor League Coaching (Cubs' chain): manager at AA ('06-'07) and Triple-A Iowa ('08)
Big League Coaching: Washington Nationals third base coach (2009-2010)
Awards: 1992 Rookie of the Year, 2008 PCL Manager of the Year
Cubs Bench Coaches of the last 10 Years
Alan Trammell: 2007-2010
Dick Pole: 2003-2006
Rene Lachemann: 2000-2002
Welcome back to the organization!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Rumor Mill Quick Hits: Free Agency Begins!

Free agency is officially open! Teams can now start negotiation with all free agents for 2011 contracts. Let's catch up with all of the Cubs rumors that have been flying around so far this winter!
  • The Sun Times reports that the Cubs will not be going after "big names" on the free agent market. The Cubs top offseason priorities are a bullpen arm and a first baseman.
  • The Cubs are "keeping their eye" on bringing Kerry Wood back to the Windy City.
  • Several sources have connected the Cubs to left handed hitting first baseman Nick Johnson.
  • It is starting to look like the Cubs will not be able to afford Adam Dunn.
  • According to the Tribune, Kosuke may need to me traded in order for the team to have room on the budget to sign a prominent free agent.
  • The Tribune also connect Jon Garland to the Cubs and said that their season biggest need is starting pitching.
  • Todd Ricketts was on the CBS TV show Undercover Boss tonight.
  • Bruce Miles is holding out hope that Carlos Zambrano can be effective.
  • The Cubs may be looking at Victor Martinez and Aubrey Huff.
  • Josh Vitters went 0-for-2 in the AFL Rising Stars Game last night with 2 Ks. Chris Carpenter looked sharp on the hill and topped out at 99-mph.
  • Xavier Nady is not expected to return to the Cubs next season. He is the only free agent on the club.
  • Chris Archer will be added to the 40-man roster soon.

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

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Breaking News Roundup: News from the Organizational Meetings

Lots of Cubs news coming out of Mesa the past few days. Let's get caught up!

Sandberg Leaves Organization
Ryne Sandberg will not return as the manager of the Triple-A Iowa Cubs. He was offered his position back but decided to move on after losing out on the managerial position. Bob Nightengale tweets that Ryno was offered the bench coach position but turned that down as well. Hendry said that the decision was entirely up to Sandberg but he did not want to return to the minor league level.

Mesa Vote Approved
The city of Mesa has approved funding for a new Chicago Cubs spring training complex. The city will pay up to $99 million for the complex, which will be located two miles southwest of HoHoKam Park.

Aramis Ramirez Exercises Option
As expected, Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez has exercised his 2011 player option. The Cubs knew during the season that Ramirez intended to take the option and the news was officially announced earlier this week. He will make $14.6 million next season.

Dave Keller Rounds Out Coaching Staff
Mike Quade's full coaching staff was officially announced on Tuesday. Dave Keller will be the special assistant to the staff, a role previously held by Matt Sinatro. He has been in the organization as the minor league hitting coordinator since 2004 so he has a knowledge of the players coming throughout the system. One of his jobs will be to assist Rudy Jaramillo. Larry Rothschild, Rudy Jaramillo, Lester Strode, and Ivan DeJesus all return to the staff while Bobby Dernier enters his first full year on the big league staff and Pat Listach joins the club as the bench coach. Interesting to note that the Cubs do not have any former catchers on their staff to work with Geovany Soto and Koyie Hill.

Guzman Outrighted, Signs Minor League Contract
The Cubs outrighted Angel Guzman, removed him from the 40-man roster, and then signed him all in one day. According to Bruce Levine, has inked a minor league deal with the club that includes an invite to Spring Training. Guzman missed all of 2010 with an injury that took place during Spring Training. The 40-man roster is now at 37.

Minor League Coaching Staffs
Full minor league coaching staffs most likely will not be announced for another month, but some of the Cubs' farm clubs' staffs are starting to take shape. Bill Dancy, who led the Tennessee Smokies to the Southern League title game this season, will most likely be promoted to Triple-A to take over for Ryne Sandberg. Tom Beyers is set to replace Keller as the hitting coordinator. Beyers was the Tennessee hitting coach this past season.

Giants Win the World Series
A late congratulations to the San Francisco Giants for becoming the champions of the baseball world on Monday night. The Giants included former Cubs Mark DeRosa, Mike Fontenot, and Andres Torres. Shawn Dunston is a special assistant for the Giants, so he will get a ring as well. Fontenot appeared in eight postseason games, one in the World Series.

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

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

2011 Spring Training Schedule So Far

Today the Cubs will announce their future Spring Training plans. I will update this post with the results of today's vote in Mesa as soon as they are released.

The 2011 Cubs Cactus League Spring Training schedule has not been released yet. It should be out soon, but until then we can start to piece together the Cubs Cactus League Slate because other teams have already released their schedules.

Tentatively, here is what we know so far:
  • Feb. 27 VS Oakland
  • March 1 @Seattle
  • March 6 @Cincinatti
  • March 7 VS Cleveland
  • March 11 @White Sox
  • March 14 @Giants
  • March 15 @Oakland
  • March 17 @Oakland
  • March 18 VS Cincinnati
  • March 20 VS Giants
  • March 22 @LAD
  • March 23 VS Oakland

I'll update this post when information on the vote becomes available!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Breaking News: Pat Listach Named Cubs Bench Coach

According to several big league sources Pat Listach will serve as the Cubs bench coach in 2011. An official announcement is expected after the World Series. Listach managed in the Cubs system for four years including 2008 when he was named the PCL Manager of the Year.

Pat left the organization for a job on the Washington Nationals staff as their third base coach in 2009. After two years in DC he will come back to the Cubs to coach under Mike Quade on the big league staff.

Listach will replace Alan Trammell, who left to join Kirk Gibson in Arizona. The 2011 Cubs coaching staff is now just about complete. It is possible that Quade will add one more guy to serve as his special assistant, a role Ivan DeJesus ('07-'09) and Matt Sinatro ('10) filled under Lo Piniella.

In other news, the Cubs announced a few tweaks to the 40-man roster last week. They have added catcher Robinson Chirinos to the roster and outrighted outfielder Jim Adduci.

Carrie Muskat answered her inbox questions today on Cubs.com. Here's the recap:

  • Carlos Marmol's strikeout average of 15.9 per 9 innings set a record for relievers.
  • Micah Hoffpauir's status will be discussed this week at the organizational meetings in Mesa.
  • If Aramis Ramirez wants a contract in 2012, he'll have to bounce back this coming season.
  • Carrie likes the idea of Starlin Castro as the lead-off hitter. Castro enjoys being at the top of the order and is one of the fastest guys on the club.

It's going to be a big week for the Chicago Cubs with the organizational meetings underway in Mesa. Tomorrow a vote will take place to determine the future of Cubs Spring Training. I'll keep you posted with all the news out of the Valley of the Sun all week long!