Archive | February, 2010

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Cubs Headed to Arbitration Hearing with Ryan Theriot – More Hednry Shenanigans

Posted on 17 February 2010 by Lou

It looks like the Chicago Cubs and Ryan Theriot will go through with an arbitration hearing at some point this weekend.  GM Jim Hendry is headed to St. Petersburg, Florida where it is likely that the 2 sides will have to argue the arbitration case for Theriot’s 2010 salary.  It would be the 1st time that Hendry has had to go to arbitration with a player during his tenure as the Cubs GM.

This seems so ridiculous to me.  After all the millions of dollars that Hendry was willing to shell out to busts like Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome and Milton Bradley, why is he now fighting for a measly $800,000 (Theriot wants $3.4 million and the Cubs have offered $2.6 million)?  It doesn’t make any sense.  The guy plays every day, he hustles everyday and he is actually productive – one of the few position players that you can say that about.  This sends a really bad message from the Cubs and Hendry to other players.  I can’t believe someone hasn’t stepped in (Tom Ricketts are you there?) and told Hendry to pay Theriot (his shortstop and Manager Lou Pinella’s lead-off hitter) his money.

I really hope Theriot wins the arbitration case – he deserves it!  I can’t wait to hear Cubs fans cheer Theriot on Opening Day at Wrigley Field on April 12th against the Milwaukee Brewers…

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Who Will Start in Place of Ted Lilly?

Posted on 16 February 2010 by Lou

Now that Spring Training is about to start, it’s time to really assess certain areas of concern for the Cubs.  Ted Lilly underwent successful shoulder surgery this off-season, but it doesn’t look like he will be ready by Opening Day in April.  That begs the question – who will be the Cubs 4th and 5th starters come the start of the season?

By all accounts, it looks like 5 pitchers will be battling for the 2 spots – Jeff Samardzija, Sean Marshall, Tom Gorzelanny, Michael Parisi (a Rule 5 Draft Pick) and Carlos Silva.  Samardzija and Marshall both picked well out of the bullpen for the Cubs in 2009, so Manager Lou Pinella might favor keeping one or both of them as relievers.  That being said, Samardzija seemed to struggle in 2009 going back and forth between the Cubs major league club and Triple-A Iowa and going back and forth between starting and relieving.  If the Cubs envision Samardzija being a starter long-term, but if he doesn’t pitch well enough to earn a starting spot out of Spring Training, it might better serve him to go back to Triple-A to hone his starting pitching skills.  As reported before, Samardzija pitched in Mexico this winter to work on all of his pitches and the extra work seemed to work wonders for the young fireballer.

Gorzelanny made some nice starts for the Cubs at the end of 2009 and Parisi is more of a long shot to earn a starting spot.  Silva has always been a starting pitcher, so it is unlikely that the Cubs will move him to the bullpen.

I’m thinking that the Cubs go with Gorzelanny and Silva as the 4th and 5th starters to open the season.  Marshall will work out of the pen with Samardzija going back to Triple-A to continue his work as a starter.  Let’s hope 1 or 2 of them really shine to give us a little confidence heading into the 2010 campaign.  Otherwise, it could be another long season on the North Side…

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Cubs Offer “Suite” Deals for Fans and Companies in 2010

Posted on 15 February 2010 by Lou

In addition to the Wrigley Field upgrades we highlighted a couple of days ago, Wrigley Field is now offering “Suite” deals for its mezzanine suites for select dates.  The Cubs are offering special perks if you rent a mezzanine suite for 1 of 23 different games in April and May.  Some of the perks are pretty cool – like getting your group’s picture taken at the Cubs’ on-deck circle.

Not surprisingly, the greater the name of suites that you rent, the better the perks.  For example, if you rent 2 suites, you will also receive 4 passes to a special VIP Appreciation party that is going to be scheduled for sometime this summer.

Suites can accommodate anywhere from 15-100 people and are a perfect was to celebrate a birthday, family reunions or company outings.

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Spring Training is Right Around the Corner

Posted on 13 February 2010 by Lou

Spring Training is right around the corner as pitchers and catchers report to the Cubs Mesa, Arizona facility next week.  Despite a 3rd straight winning season for Manager Lou Pinella and his Cubs, the team did not qualify for post-season play in 2009.  That left a bitter taste in their mouths, especially since the team was swept out of the 1st round of the playoffs the previous 2 seasons.

But a new season brings new hopes.  And Cubs fans all across the country believe that this could be the year!  Ha ha ha!  Well I guess anything is possible, but it is going to take a lot for this team to rebound and play at a high level all season long to keep pace with the Central Division favorites – the hated St. Louis Cardinals.  The Cardinals have 2 elite pitchers – Chris Carpenter and Adam Wainwright – to go with 2 of the game’s best sluggers – Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday – so the Cards are not going to lose a lot of games.

That means the Cubs are going to need to stay healthy and play together as a team if they are going to regain that 2008 winning form, which saw the team win 95 games and finish with the best record in the National League.

We’ll be touching on a lot of these subjects over the next few weeks of Spring Training and will keep you posted with any injury updates, etc.  To wet your appetite a little bit, feast your eyes on the Cubs projected opening day lineup for MLB baseball at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.  Although they will start the season away from Wrigley, I can’t wait for opening day to get here – it can’t come soon enough…

SS Ryan Theriot; RF Kosuke Fukudome; 1B Derrek Lee; 3B Aramis Ramirez; CF Marlon Byrd; LF Alfonso Soriano; C Geovany Soto; and 2B Mike Fontenot/Jeff Baker.

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Wrigley Field “Upgrades” Underway – Will Be Ready for 2010 Opening Day

Posted on 12 February 2010 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs have been working on a few “upgrades” for the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field this winter.  Of the long list of things, my favorite one is the improvement of the rest rooms on the lower concourse level of the stadium.  The changes should help alleviate lines by creating more useful space for patrons.  I just hope they don’t eliminate the urinal “troughs”!

The most interesting change is the addition of a new season ticket area called the Executive Club.  The Executive Club is located down the left-field line where the Cubs have demolished 6 suites and renovated them into an exclusive season ticket holder club.  The cost is $24,300 per season ticket and the Cubs plan to sell 71 season tickets to the Executive Club.  Even with food and drink included, the $300 per game price seems a bit expensive, but I guess there are businesses and individuals who are willing to fork over that kind of cash.  The season ticket includes the 81 home games at Wrigley Field as well as any post-season games and other entertainment events, like concerts.

The other interesting change is the addition of a batting cage under the right field bleachers.  Fans will get to watch their favorites Cubs practice with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo through a 1-way glass window.  Being able to walk under there the last few years was such a big hit that the Cubs decided to expand the capabilities in this manner as well with the batting cage.

Marketing Director Wally Hayward has also said that the team is working on new advertising endeavors for 2010.  The back of the left-field bleachers still needs a sponsor and the team has discussed selling sponsorship for the 2 on-deck circles on the field.  In addition to having hosting numerous concerts and the NHL’s Winter Classic, Hayward and his staff are exploring the opportunity to bring a college football game to Wrigley Field.  Rumors have it that local schools Illinois and Northwestern could make an appearance at Wrigley Field this November – that would be pretty sweet.

Sounds like some interesting moves by Hayward and the Ricketts Family.  I’m sure we will be hearing a lot more news about some of those innovative ideas from Cubs Management in the coming years…

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Cubs, Ryan Theriot Could Face Arbitration Hearing

Posted on 11 February 2010 by Lou

The Chicago Cubs and Ryan Theriot have yet to reach an agreement for the 2010 MLB baseball season.  Theriot asked for $3.4 million while the Cubs countered with a $2.6 million offer.  A hearing has not been scheduled yet, but statements that GM Jim Hendry made recently do not sound promising: “I haven’t spoken to his people for awhile.  There’s always a chance [for a settlement] until it’s final.  But I can’t say I’m optimistic, either.  We’re already settled with the other seven [arbitration-eligible players].  So if the situation ends up going to a hearing, then that’s OK, too…  Everybody has a right to [a hearing].  It won’t affect, obviously, the way we feel about him or the way he plays.”

The closest Hendry has come to going into a hearing with a player was with Carlos Zambrano back in the Spring of 2007.  Hendry and Big Z’s agent were literally walking into the hearing in Phoenix when the 2 decided that they were close enough to make a deal that both sides could be happy with.  Hendry has never actually had to go to a hearing in his tenure as Cubs GM.

I’m a little surprised that the 2 sides can’t work out a deal.  Theriot clearly has the upper hand – he plays everyday, his numbers are solid, he is a good clubhouse guy and the Cubs desperately need him to play shortstop and probably bat lead-off.  Sure his 2009 numbers were a little off from 2008, but he did reach career highs during the 2009 MLB schedule with 7 home runs, 54 RBI’s and 5 triples.  Theriot led the Cubs with 154 games played and 602 at-bats and he was also the only Cubs player with more than 20 stolen bases (21).  Theriot led the major leagues in 2009 with 139 singles.  There are only a few minor negatives – his walks went down in 2009 (from 73 to 51), while his strikeouts went up (58 to 93).  Both his batting average (.307 to .284) and on-base percentage (.387 to .343) also went down.  Now the Cubs struggled mightily offensively in 2009, so that could mean that Theriot was pressing a little more to try to make something happen for the team.  Maybe he swung at pitches he might not have swung at if the whole lineup was swinging a good bat.  So it’s hard to say why the numbers dipped a little bit.

That being said, given the precarious injury situation with Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez, the Geovany Soto question mark, and the 2nd basemen platoon of Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot, the Cubs really need some stability up the middle of the infield and at the top of the order.  Ryan Theriot provides both of those.  I find it hard to believe that the 2 sides won’t agree to a deal before a hearing, but if it does actually make it that far, I’d bet it all on Theriot to win…

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Spring Training Send Off – Chicago Style…

Posted on 10 February 2010 by Lou

It was a perfect way to hold the annual Spring Training send off for the Cubs – amidst a steady, all-day snowstorm outside the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field.  The Cubs clubhouse staff, as well as Chicago area students from the Inter-American School, helped pack the trucks that would bring all of the Cubs equipment and jerseys to Mesa, Arizona for the Cubs 2010 Spring Training schedule.  Cubs GM Jim Hendry was on hand for the send off:  “I’m anxious to get there.  When you have a year that doesn’t end in post-season play, it just kind of lingers with you all offseason no matter what you do or how you think you might have fixed this or fixed that.  [That feeling] doesn’t leave you until you get down there and get outside and guys are on the field.”

Hendry has already been down to the Cubs training facility in Mesa and he said that just under 20 players are already there working out and getting ready for the season.  That is a good sign – “They have a little bit of an edge to them after the way things ended last year. ”  After winning back-to-back NL Central division titles, the Cubs finished in 2nd place behind the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009.  Although they had a winning record for a 3rd straight season – something foreign to many of the Cubs players and their loyal north side fans – it still felt like a disappointing season.

Let’s hope the sloppy, messy snowstorm during yesterday’s Spring Training send-off does not foreshadow the type of season the Cubs can expect during the 2010 MLB schedule.  This team needs to right the ship in 2010!

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2nd Base – Baker or Fontenot or a Castro/Theriot SS/2B Combo?

Posted on 09 February 2010 by Lou

The 2nd base job is the only real position up for debate for Manager Lou Pinella and his staff to decide in Spring Training in Mesa, Arizona during the next 2 months.  How will it turn out?

Right now, Pinella and the staff are probably leaning towards some sort of combination of Jeff Baker and Mike Fontenot at 2nd base.  Fontenot showed that he really couldn’t handle the load of being the full-time 2nd baseman in 2009 (.236 batting average in 377 at-bats).  Baker played the 2nd half of the season and performed at a high level for the Cubs (.305 batting average in 203 at-bats).  But Pinella and the Cubs could be a little gun-shy of anointing Baker the everyday player considering how bad Fontenot was exposed as an every day player.  Baker is right-handed and Fontenot is left-handed, so assuming that neither player outshines the other significantly in spring training, the easy solution is to platoon the 2 players.  I have a feeling that’s how things will start in 2010, with Pinella favoring one of the other after a month or 2 of the season.

One alternative could be an entirely different 2nd base/shortstop combination.  If minor league sensation Starlin Castro really shines during Spring Training, and if Pinella and the staff believe that the 20-year old is ready to play in the big leagues, you could see a Ryan Theriot / Castro combination.  Theriot can play 2nd base and Castro is a solid shortstop, so it would be an interesting move for the Cubs to make coming out of Spring Training.  My bet is that the Cubs continue to let Castro develop in the minor leagues for one more season.  As the season progresses, if Castro continues to excel at Double-A and Triple-A, you could see the Cubs bring him up mid-season or in September once major league rosters expand. Castro is clearly the shortstop of the future, so fans at Wrigley Field are chomping at the bit to get a glimpse of the youngster in the very near future.

Stay tuned – this should be a really fun position to watch, especially if Castro really shines in Spring Training.  That could make things really tough on GM Jim Henry and Pinella…

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Saints Top Colts 31-17 to Win 1st Super Bowl Title

Posted on 08 February 2010 by Lou

Boy was I wrong – the New Orleans Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 to win the Super Bowl crown on Sunday in Miami.  Quarterback Drew Brees led the Saints offense and a confident Saints defense held Peyton Manning and the Colts high-powered offense to just 17 points. The Saints and their fans are sure going to be celebrating big time in the Big Easy over the next few weeks.

Drew Brees was named the Super Bowl MVP.  He completed 32 of 39 passes for 288 yards and 2 touchdowns – all good for a 114.5 QB rating.  His 82% completion percentage was the 2nd best in Super Bowl history behind Phil Simms of the New York Giants.

Manning had similar numbers for the Colts (31 of 45 passing, 333 yards passing, 1 passing touchdown – all good for a 88.5 QB rating), but his costly interception at the end of the game sealed the Colts’ fate.

Wish I was heading down to New Orleans for Mardi Gras next week.  As if that place isn’t insane enough – now they have the franchise’s 1st ever Super Bowl Championship to celebrate as well!  Congrats to the Saints and their loyal New Orleans fan base!

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Colts Will Beat Saints in Super Bowl Today!

Posted on 07 February 2010 by Lou

The Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints are set to play in the Super Bowl later today.  Your friends at MyCubsToday predict that Peyton Manning and the Colts will win their 2nd Super Bowl in 4 years in Miami with a convincing 34-27 win over Drew Brees and the city of New Orleans.  Check back in in Monday to see if we were right – it should be a fun and exciting Super Bowl to watch.

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