Archive | January, 2009

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Chicago Cubs Announce Non-Roster Spring Training Invitees

Posted on 22 January 2009 by Lou

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The Chicago Cubs announced a few non-roster invitees to Spring Training 2009 in Arizona.

Japanese right-handed veteran pitcher Ken Kadokura. He is a 13-year veteran of the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan. He has 76 career wins and a 4.36 career ERA in 302 games. He has played for 4 different Japanese teams.

Mike Stanton – a left-handed reliever who is 41 years old and has not pitched since 2007 when he made 69 relief appearances for the Cincinnati Reds.

So Taguchi – see previous blog post here.

Chad Fox – 38-year old reliever who has been hampered with elbow issues the last few seasons. Fox appeared in 3 games for the Cubs during the 2008 MLB season – his first MLB action since 2005 – until recurring injuries forced him to miss the rest of the season.

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Hendry, Cubs Avoid Arbitration With Michael Wuertz

Posted on 21 January 2009 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs and reliever Michael Wuertz agreed upon a 1-year, $1.1 million deal for the 2009 MLB season. Wuertz was the last arbitration-eligible player that the Cubs needed to sign before today’s deadline. By finalizing the deal, Cubs GM Jim Hendry kept his streak alive as he has not had to submit numbers to an actual arbitration panel during his tenure as Cubs GM.

Wuertz made 45 appearances for the Cubs during the 2008 MLB season. He was 1-1 with a 3.63 ERA. He also spent some time with the Cubs Triple-A affiliate in Iowa. In 2007, Wuertz made the 2nd most appearances for the Cubs with 73. He was a reliable member of the bullpen that season – going 2-3 with a 3.48 ERA. Wuertz should make the Cubs roster in 2009, but there will be some competition with recent signees like Luis Vizcaino, Garrett Olson and Dave Stevens.

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Chicago Cubs Rich Harden Experiencing Shoulder Issues…Again

Posted on 20 January 2009 by Lou

Well – we can’t say this is a surprise at all. When the Cubs dealt Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton and 2 others to acquire oft-injured starter Rich Harden and reliever Chad Gaudin from the Oakland A’s during the middle of the 2008 MLB campaign, we also knew there was a risk that Harden could end up on the shelf for an extended period of time during his tenure as a Cub. Unfortunately, it looks like that day has come sooner than we expected. The Cubs have announced that Harden does have a slight tear in his right shoulder. The tear is kind of in that gray area – it could be repaired with surgery, but it could also be treated successfully with therapy, a strengthening program and a well-manged workout schedule. Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild added that Harden is not close to throwing off of a mound yet, and that there is some issue with his right shoulder that needs to be addressed. Harden has been going through a rigorous off-season program aimed at strengthening the arm, but he is still experiencing some soreness there.

Harden made 25 starts for the A’s and Cubs in 2008. Harden was 5-1 with each team, and he performed exceptionally well for the Cubs in his 12 starts. He pitched 71 innings and had an impressive 89 strikeouts during that stretch. He had a 1.77 ERA and 0.97 ERA for the Cubs.

With the trade of Jason Marquis a few weeks ago, and now the injury issue with Harden, it doesn’t look good for the Cubs starting rotation. The Cubs are set with Carlos Zambrano (who had some injury issues of his own a few times during the course of the 2008 MLB season), Ryan Dempster, and Ted Lilly. Sean Marshall was expected to win the 5th spot in the rotation, but now he could be forced into the 4th spot and the Cubs would need to have another competition for the 5th slot. Chad Gaudin, Angel Guzman and newly acquired Garrett Olson could all step up, but we’d rather have Harden pitch every 5th day instead of one of those guys.

We’ll keep you posted here at MyCubsToday, but for now, it doesn’t sound too promising.

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Cubs Sign Kevin Gregg To 1-Year Deal

Posted on 20 January 2009 by Lou

Chicago Cubs GM Jim Hendry did it again – he avoided arbitration with a player and now only has to come to terms with reliever Michael Wuertz before Tuesday’s deadline in order to keep his 7-year streak alive and kicking.

The Cubs and Kevin Gregg agreed on a 1-year $4.2 million deal over the weekend. The Cubs acquired Gregg in a trade this off-season. Gregg is 30 years old, and battled some injuries during the 2008 MLB season after a hot start. Gregg saved 29 games for the Marlins in 2008. He pitched in 72 games and amassed a 3.41 ERA. Gregg is expected to compete for the Cubs closer position with Carlos Marmol, but most believe he will serve as Marmol’s set-up man once the season begins.

Gregg did have knee surgery right after the 2008 MLB season ended, but has resumed normal throwing workouts already. He has reported no further knee issues this off-season and is expected to be ready to go right at the start of Spring Training.

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Cubs Deal Felix Pie to Orioles for 2 Pitchers

Posted on 19 January 2009 by Lou

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The Chicago Cubs and outfielder Felix Pie finally parted ways over the weekend. The Cubs have always had high hopes for Pie, and they even had him slated in as the everyday center fielder to start the 2008 campaign. It became clear early on, however, that Pie would not be able to hit big league pitching on a regular, consistent basis. Pie played in only 43 games during the 2008 MLB season, hitting .241 with a .312 on-base percentage in 83 at-bats. He struck out 29 times and walked only 7 times, a very poor percentage given his best talent is his blazing speed. Pie will turn 24 in February, but the Cubs still felt it was time to make the move to deal him for 2 promising pitchers.

Garrett Olson is a 25-year left-handed pitcher from Fresno, California. Olson started 26 games for the Orioles during the 2008 campaign. He went 9-10 with a high 6.65 ERA and 1.73 WHIP. Control tended to be an issue for Olson – he walked 62 batters in only 132 2/3 innings. He also gave up a whopping 17 home runs and 98 earned runs. But Olson did rank fairly high among American League rookies in terms of starts, wins, innings pitched and strikeouts. Olson could fit into the mix as the 5th starter for the Cubs during the 2009 MLB season.

The Cubs also landed Henry Williamson in the deal. Williamson is a right-handed pitcher who will likely start the 2009 season in the Cubs farm system.

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Chicago Cubs Sign So Taguchi To Minor League Deal

Posted on 18 January 2009 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs have signed outfielder So Taguchi to a minor league, non-roster contract. Taguchi played for the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies last year, primarily in a defensive, reserve role. Taguchi played 88 games, but only had a .220 batting average with 91 at-bats. As a pinch-hitter, Taguchi only had 3 hits in 33 chances. He is a career .279 hitter.

If Taguchi makes the Cubs major league roster following Spring Training, he will earn $900,000 for the 2009 MLB season. Taguchi knows the Cubs well – he played 6 MLB seasons for the rival St. Louis Cardinals and had a .266 career average at Wrigley Field.

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Cubs Avoid Arbitration With Ronny Cedeno

Posted on 17 January 2009 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs and infielder Ronny Cedeno agreed to a 1-year, $822,00 contract that will keep Cedeno on the North Side during the 2009 MLB season. The deal allowed the 2 sides to avoid an arbitration hearing next week.

Cedeno played in 99 games for the Cubs during the 2008 MLB season. Cedeno hit .269 in 216 at-bats with a .328 on-base percentage. Cedeno will continue to see most of his action at the middle infield positions, but he also played games at 3rd base and in left field and right field for the Cubs during the 2008 MLB season. His versatility is a big asset for the Cubs.

Cubs GM Jim Hendry is also trying to work out deals between 2 other arbitration-eligible players – Kevin Gregg and Michael Wuertz – before the Tuesday January 20th deadline. We’ll keep you posted if anything develops over the next few days. During Hendry’s entire tenure as Cubs GM since 2002, he has never had to exchange offers in an arbitration hearing.

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A Glimpse at the 2009 Chicago Cubs Pitching Staff

Posted on 16 January 2009 by Lou

Now that we’re just about a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting to Spring Training, let’s take a look at the Chicago Cubs pitching staff. With the departure of Jason Marquis to the Colorado Rockies, the Cubs have the 5th slot in the rotation open for competition.

The front-runners are believed to be either lefty Sean Marshall or right Chad Gaudin. The Cubs would love to keep Marshall in the bullpen as the 2nd left-handed reliever to go with Neal Cotts, but he is still going to get a good look as a starter. Marshall made 24 starts during the 2006 MLB season and 19 starts during the 2007 MLB season. He made 34 appearances during the 2008 MLB season, including 7 starts. Marshall has reduced his ERA and WHIP in each of his last 2 MLB seasons.

Chad Gaudin pitched mainly out of the bullpen for the Cubs and A’s in 2008, although he did make 6 starts for the A’s at the beginning of the season. Back problems limited his effectiveness with the Cubs down the stretch, as his ERA ballooned to 6.26 and his WHIP sky-rocketed to 1.43 after a string of several good appearances in August right after he was acquired by the Cubs. During the 2007 MLB season, Gaudin was exclusively a starter – making 34 starts for the A’s. Gaudin went 11-13 with a 4.42 ERA and a 1.53 WHIP. He struck out 154 batters and walked 100 batters in 199 1/3 innings pitched. Assuming he can rehab properly from his back issues, it is clear that Gaudin has what it takes to be an effective starter in the big leagues.

Two other options are Jeff Samardzija and Angel Guzman. Samardzija erupted on the scene during the middle of the 2008 MLB season and became one of the Cubs most dependable relievers during July and August. His numbers dipped in September, but he still ended up with decent numbers – 26 games, 27 1/3 innings pitched, 2.28 ERA, 1.41 WHIP and 25 strikeouts. He was 1-0 with 1 save. Guzman made 6 appearances for the Cubs during the course of the 2008 MLB season, but was largely ineffective. It is believed that Samardzija will remain in the bullpen as a set-up man to new closer Carlos Marmol, while Guzman will return to the minor leagues for additional work.

One wild card is the Cubs pursuit of a 5th starter via trade or free agency. The Padres Jake Peavy is also an enticing commodity, but it is unclear if Jim Hendry and Kevin Towers have what it takes to re-open discussions for the Padres ace. Hendry has also been rumored to like Randy Wolf, a free agent who made 33 starts with the Houston Astros during the 2008 MLB season. Wolf pitched 190 1/3 innings, going 12-12 with a 4.30 ERA and a 1.38 WHIP. Wolf would make a nice end of the rotation starter, and give the Cubs the flexibility to keep Marshall in the bullpen for one more year. It will be interesting to see if Hendry can work some magic to acquire either Peavy or Wolf this off-season. If he did, that would relegate Gaudin and Marshall back into the pen.

In any event, the Cubs have the luxury of being patient this off-season. They have depth with several pitchers that can pitch on the big level. They also have 4 solid top of the rotation starters in Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Ted Lilly and Rich Harden. It should be another exciting 2009 MLB season at the friendly confines of Wrigley Field.

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Cubs Release Broadcast Schedule for Spring Training Schedule

Posted on 15 January 2009 by Lou

Chicago Cubs fans – get ready for some baseball!!!

The Cubs have announced that 9 spring training games will be televised on Comcast SportsNet (3 games) and WGN-TV (6 games) during the 2009 Spring Training Schedule. WGN-Radio will also broadcast 11 Cubs games during the 2009 Spring Training Schedule.

It’s not surprising that the first games to be televised will be 2 games against the cross-town rival White Sox in Las Vegas on March 4th at 9PM CST and March 5th at 3PM CST. These 2 Cubs-Sox games will be on WGN-TV, as will the 3/7 Milwaukee Brewers game, the 3/14 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim game, and the 3/20 and 3/27 games against the White Sox.

The 3 games to be televised by Comcast SportsNet include: 3/22 against the Seattle Mariners, 3/30 against the Kansas City Royals and 4/4 against the New York Yankees at the New Yankee Stadium.

The Cubs open the 2009 Spring Training Schedule against the Los Angeles Dodgers at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Arizona on February 25th. WGN-Radio will broadcast the game.

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Cubs Deny Deal Is Imminent For Japanese Lefty Takahashi

Posted on 14 January 2009 by Lou

Sports-Hochi, a Japanese-based media outlet, reported that the Chicago Cubs were close to signing left-handed pitcher Ken Takahashi from Japan. Acquiring the lefty would allow the Cubs to move Sean Marshall into the starting rotation with the departure of Jason Marquis, and would also help continue Kosuke Fukodome’s adjustment to baseball in the United States.

But now those rumors appear to be over-blown. Cubs officials overseas have denied the reports and no further rumors seems to be floating around regarding the 40-year old veteran pitcher.

The Cubs have not announced any further deals of late and appear to be done heading into the 2009 MLB campaign. Stay tuned for upcoming posts regarding upcoming lineup and starting pitcher analysis and how the Cubs off-season signees will fit into the role during the 2009 MLB season…

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