Archive | November, 2010

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Ryne Sandberg Not Pleased with Cubs Managerial Interview Process – Wrigley Field 11/16/10

Posted on 16 November 2010 by Lou

Ryne Sandberg was recently named the Manager of the Phillies Triple-A affiliate in Lehigh Valley of the International League.  When asked about the Cubs managerial interview process, he seemed to indicate that he didn’t thnk that the Cubs took his candidacy that seriously.  Here are a few of his quotes:

“Well, you know what, obviously there was disappointment at the end.  As I look back and see everybody involved in the interview process, I think the most games anybody saw me manage was 4-5 games, by everybody that I talked to.  Based on that, I don’t know how I would hired for a job if nobody saw me doing my job elsewhere.  That was kind of a disappointing part of the whole thing.  But now that I see it, it’s very obvious with the process and the final choice… I did what I had to do.  I had a good season.  I progressed through the farm system.  I’m not saying I totally paid my dues, I don’t want to go there, because I don’t know what paying the dues is, how many years that means.  Becasue there are guys who do it a lot more.  Deep down I felt I did what I had to do, and had fun at it, and was good at it.  I had some confidence right down to the end, but looking back at it, I see things a little differently… I just enjoyed my interview with the Phillies… They talked about organization.  They talked about team.  And they used the word ‘we’ a lot.  They also said I would be working hand in hand with the big club, whatever is needed.  There will be phone calls quite often, maybe even every other day from the major-league club.  That connection, and that confidence in me in helping them and be a part of it is something I’m excited about.”

WOW – Sandberg seems pretty bitter right now, but I think he is in a much better situation than if he WAS hired as the Cubs major league manager.  With the Ricketts continuing to slash payroll, things are going to be pretty ugly for a little while on the North Side…

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Ryne Sandberg Hired as Phillies Triple-A Manager at Lehigh Valley – Wrigley Field 11/15/10

Posted on 15 November 2010 by Lou

It’s official – Ryne Sandberg is the new Triple-A Manager of the Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs of the International League.  The Cubs passed over Sandberg for the Cubs major league managerial job and decided to hire Mike Quade to take over the job on a full-time basis after he guided the Cubs to an impressive 24-13 record during the final 37 games of the season.  Sandberg did everything the Cubs asked him to do by managing for the last 4 seasons in the Cubs minor league system, but when the Cubs went with Quade instead of him a month ago, that was the final straw.  Sandberg returns to the organization that drafted him back in 1982.

I’m glad that Ryno found a place to land after the Cubs debacle.  It was definitely the right move for Sandberg and the Cubs once the Cubs opted to go with Quade.  To have Sandberg still in the Cubs organization would have been more trouble than it was worth.  Guess we’ll see how it all plays out over the next few years, but it would not surprise me to hear Sandberg’s name in the mix the next time the Cubs are looking for a major league manager (which could be as early as years) depending on how bad things get with the Ricketts slashing payroll and the Cubs trying to rebuild…

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Would the Cubs Really Trade Aramis Ramirez? – Wrigley Field 11/13/10

Posted on 13 November 2010 by Lou

I heard ESPN Radio 1000’s Bruce Levine talking about the Cubs potentially moving Aramis Ramirez this winter for some younger players.  Could this really happen?

Gimme a break – this is getting very ugly on the North Side.  Bruce Levine who has some great sources inside the Cubs has already said that the Cubs cannot afford the kind of deal (3-years, $40 million) that free agent 1st baseman Adam Dunn will command on the open market this winter.  Now, Levine has thrown out the idea that the Cubs could move their biggest run-producer – when healthy – to a team looking for a 3rd baseman (like the Boston Red Sox if they don’t re-sign Adrian Beltre) or potentially a Designated Hitter (like the Boston Red Sox when David Ortiz leaves after the 2011 MLB season).  This is truly getting ridiculous.

I know the Cubs want to go young to try and build around Starlin Castro, Tyler Colvin, Blake DeWitt and some of the other young pitchers that have had some share of success at the major league level.  But to throw the season away before it even starts doesn’t make any sense to me.  The NL Central is not the best division, so even with the mediocre team that the Cubs currently have, they could still make a run for the division title if some things fall into place.  The Cardinals are 1-Chris Carpenter injury away from being in the middle of the pack.  The way Dusty Baker works his starting rotation (see Mark Prior and Kerry Wood with the Cubs), we know that some of the talented, young Reds starters – Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, Travis Wood – could quickly end up on the DL or have down seasons because Baker overworked them in 2010.  If either the Cards or Reds take a stepback, that opens the door for another team to squeeze to the top.  It might not be the Cubs, but it could be.

Sure Ramirez has played in only a total of 206 games during the last 2 seasons combined, but he is still productive when in there.  He had 25 HR’s and 83 RBI’s on one of the worst Cubs offensive teams in recent years.  Plus, back in 2008 when he played in 149 games, Ramirez smacked 27 HR’s and drove in 111 runs with another 97 runs scored.  Even at 33 years of age, the guy can still play and the Cubs will need him to be in the lineup if they expect to compete in 2011.  If the Cubs do decide to move Ramirez this off-season, that would mean that the Cubs have officially packed it in for 2011 – that without even throwing a single pitch.  And that would be a horrible message for the Ricketts Family to send to the Cubs players and its loyal Cubs fan base…

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Ricketts Family Seeking Monetary Support from State in order to Start Long-Term Renovations at Wrigley Field – 11/12/10

Posted on 12 November 2010 by Lou

This is a pretty interesting move by Tom Ricketts and the Cubs in order to commence massive renovations at Wrigley Field for the next few years.  The Ricketts Family clearly wants to keep the Cubs at Wrigley Field and they are appealing to legislators and Cubs fans to make it happen.  The Ricketts sent a letter to Cubs season ticket holders and Wrigleyville residents this week urging them to back a bill that will be up for vote at the Illinois General Assembly soon.  Cubs fans pay a 12% amusement tax on all Cubs ticket sales.  The bill would provide that a portion of the revenue generated from such amusement tax would be invested directly in the preservation and development of Wrigley Field in order to keep the ball park on the North Side of Chicago.  Rickets specifically stated the following in his letter — “The plan is fair, simple, and solves the problem.  Most importantly, it will not increase taxes paid by Cubs fans or anyone else and will not create any new taxes… We have an opportunity in this upcoming legislative session to begin the process of renovating and restoring Wrigley Field and securing its continued future contributions to the Lakeview economy.”

Bonds would be issued to fund the long-term improvements to the ballpark.  The Cubs paid $16.1 million in City of Chicago and Cook County amusement taxes in 2009.  The Cubs would guarantee at least that much each year during the renovation process and any taxes in excess of that $16.1 million amount (through increased ticket prices or increased sales revenues based upon the year) would go directly back to pay off the bonds.  This was a smart move by the Ricketts Family.  Fans like this move because it won’t raise their own taxes or what they are going to pay for their Cubs tickets, plus it ensures fans that Wrigley Field will stay right here in Wrigleyville.  Wrigleyville residents should also like this.  While some complain about the noise and negative impact of night games and rowdy crowds, those people don’t truly understand how the presence of Wrigley Field and the bars and restaurants that surround the ballpark actually help keep the community thriving and increase property values.  This should give business owners confidence to continue to build and develop in the area because they will know that the Ricketts don’t plan on moving the stadium out of Wrigleyville.  By appealing to both bases, the Ricketts are trying to build a strong coalition to get the bill approved.  If approved, having $200 million to invest in the preservation and development of Wrigley Field (to build new suites, a new scoreboard, new advertising opportunities, etc.) will only help them increase the value of their Cubs assets.  Give ’em credit – they might not be putting a winning team on the field just yet, but they are positioning themselves to have a long successful run in the near future.

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Catching up with Cubs Reliever Andrew Cashner – Wrigley Field 11/11/10

Posted on 11 November 2010 by Lou

Andrew Cashner was a pleasant surprise for the Cubs out of the bullpen during the 2010 MLB schedule.  Cashner appeared in 53 games, going 2-6 with 16 holds and 1 blown save.  He had a 4.80 ERA and a 1.56 WHIp, with 50 K’s and 30 walks in 54 1/3 innings.  Cashner started off well, but hit the wall a little bit at the end of July and in early August.  He gave up 6 ER in back-to-back appearances on July 27th and July 30th, and then had a stretch where he gave up 7 total ER in a stretch of 4 out of 5 appearances in the middle of August.  But he rebounded after that – from August 23rd on (which coincided with the Mike Quade regime), Cashner worked in 18 games and gave up just a total of 3 ER in 19 1/3 innings pitched.  He appeared to regain his confidence and he pitched with a sense of purpose in some stressful situations for Quade and the Cubs late in the season.  Let’s hope he can keep it up and improve on the consistency during the off-season so that he is ready and able to lead a successful bullpen reformation during the 2011 MLB season.

Cashner recently had some interesting insight into pitching at the major league level and discussing how he plans to prepare for 2011: “I always thought I had good enough stuff to pitch here.  The biggest surprise to me is all the material you can use here every day.  The biggest thing I’ve learned is how much the hitters make adjustments.  You can face a guy at the beginning of the season in the Minors and get him out, and then face him three months later and he’s still the same guy.  The hitters here are constantly making adjustments.  I see our guys doing it all the time — they’re always working on something. The outs are a little harder to get later in the game… I’ll take some time off this year.  It’s been a really long year.  I’m going to shut it down for three, four weeks.  I have a trainer I work out with and I won’t see him until November 1.  Then, I’ll start five days a week first of November.  The throwing program usually doesn’t start until December.

Cashner will play a large role in how well the Cubs bullpen performs in 2011.  There are a lot of talented, but young arms in their, so it’s imperative that they stay focused and come prepared to pitch in pressure situations each and every day.  If guys like Cashner, Russell and Casey Coleman can continue to make a positive impact, it could be a sign of good things to come for the Cubs in 2011 and the very near future…

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State of the Cubs – What is the Game Plan for 2010? – Wrigley Field 11/10/10

Posted on 10 November 2010 by Lou

Now that the new Manager (Mike Quade) is in place, what will owner Tom Ricketts & GM Jim Hendry do to rebuild the Cubs for the 2011 MLB schedule?  The Cubs finished strong under Quade (24-13) down the stretch, but still ended the season with a 75-87 record.  There is a lot of work that needs to be done, but it sounds like the Ricketts family has put a hold on the “free spending” philosophy to which GM Jim Hendry is accustomed.

As we previously noted, Aramis Ramirez exercised his option to stay with the Cubs in 2011 for $14.6 million.  With that, the Cubs are committed to $130 million going into the off-season.  Certain arbitration-eligible players will also be getting pay raises in 2011, so you have to factor in some additional dollars to account for these players.  Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, Geovany Soto, Tom Gorzelanny and Jeff Baker fit into that category.

The Cubs have a hole at 1st base with the departure of Derrek Lee.  The Cubs opted not to re-sign Xavier Nady, but can still work out a deal with him this winter.  Adam Dunn is the best free agent 1st baseman out there, but many sources say that he doesn’t fit into the Ricketts’ budget.  This amazes me.  After shelling out so much money over the years, not being willing to shell out $10-12 for Dunn for each of the next 3 seasons amazes me.  Even if it sends the payroll up to the high $120’s, that would still be a LOT less than the $144 million shelled out for the 75-win team in 2010.  The talk that the Cubs will be able to trade for Adrian Gonzales at some point this season is a joke.  The Padres new GM – Jed Hoyer – was the former assistant GM to Theo Epstein in Boston.  The Red Sox have been trying to pry Gonzalez from the Padres for 2 years now, and the Padres know that they cannot re-sign him after the 2011 season.  Hoyer will move Gonzales to the Red Sox before the July trading deadline and he knows the Red Sox minor league system as well as anyone given his previous assistant GM position.  I would be shocked if Hoyer and Epstein don’t work out a deal to move Gonzales to the Red Sox – it would get Hoyer some great players back and it would also move Gonzalez into the American League where they would only have to play him in interleague play, if at all.  If Ricketts and Hendry really think they have a shot at Gonzales, they are kidding themselves.  If they don’t sign Dunn, then your other options are not so hot –  .  I don’t think the Cubs really want to move Tyler Colvin to 1st base, so I think the best move would be to shell out the $$$ for Dunn for a 3-year deal.  If he pushes for 4 years, then you take a pass.

After that, the Cubs need to work on the outfield.  Moving Alfonso Soriano or Kosuke Fukudome would be huge, but I doubt it will happen.  So that means splitting time among Colvin, Fukudome and Soriano in right field and left field.  Not the best option.  The Cubs are set with the rotation – Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Carlos Silva and Tom Gorzelanny – but it isn’t all that pretty.  Jeff Samardzija is out of options, so he either makes the big league roster out of Spring Training 2011 or the Cubs have to waive him.  The bullpen is young, but “talented”.  Marshall and Marmol can hold down the fort at the back end and the the Cubs hope that John Grabow can remain healthy for the entire 2011 season.  Samardzija is better suited as a starter, so look for Gorzelanny to be used as a reliever in 2011.  The Cubs could also be in the market for a veteran arm as well.

Quade is ever the optimist, as he doesn’t think the Cubs need a major over-haul in order to get back into contention in the National League Central:  “I’m smart enough to know six weeks doesn’t make six months.  But what I saw with the improvement of the kids and the way we pitched and the way we played last the last six weeks, why not?  I believed that from Day 1.  Why not us?… There are plenty of examples of teams which had rough years and finished strong – look back at San Diego – and built on it for next year.  I find no reason to approach this season any other way.  Expect to win? Expect to contend? Yes, I do.”  Gotta love it, but I just don’t see the Cubs being a consistently good team in 2011.

It should be an interesting, but frugal winter.  Look for the Cubs to take shots on several “economical” free agents or players via trade in order to try to catch lightning in a bottle…

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Ryne Sandberg up for Phillies Triple-A Manager’s Job — Wrigley Field 11/9/10

Posted on 09 November 2010 by Lou

Ryne Sandberg may have found himself a new home – as manager of the Triple-A Lehigh Valley IronPigs (the Triple-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies).  Chuck Lamar – the assistant GM in charge of Phillies player development – has indicated that the club should announce the new manager of the Triple-A Lehigh Valley team in the near future.  Sandberg – who was the Phillies 20th round pick back in 1978 – is a candidate for the position.  The Phillies ended up trading Sandberg to the Cubs as a “thrown in player” for a deal that sent Larry Bowa to the Cubs for Ivan DeJesus (the Cubs current 1st base coach).  Sandberg went on to have a Hall of Fame career as a Cub and has managed in the Cubs minor league system for each of the last 4 years.  We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything on Sandberg – if he doesn’t get the Phillies job, it will be interesting to see where he ends up…

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Cubs Outfielder Brett JacksonWill Not Participate in Arizona Fall League 2010 – Wrigley Field 11/8/10

Posted on 08 November 2010 by Lou

The Cubs top outfield prospect – Brett Jackson – will not participate in the Arizona Fall League as expected.  Jackson was diagnosed with a calf infection and doctors feel that shutting him down is in his best interests.  Jackson was the Cubs top pick in the 2009 Draft.  He had dealt with a heel injury for Team USA earlier this year, but GM Jim Hendry has said that the calf injury is unrelated.  Jackson is expected to make a full recovery and Hendry is not worried that this will set him back in his development in the least.  Hendry confirmed that Jackson has played plenty of ball the last 18 months and that he will be ready for Spring Training 2011.  It is unlikely that Jackson will make the major league roster coming out of spring training, but look for Jackson to have an impact soon a la Tyler Colvin…

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Cubs, Angel Guzman Agree on 1-Year Deal – Wrigley Field 11/6/10

Posted on 06 November 2010 by Lou

The Cubs and Angel Guzman have agreed upon a minor league contract and an invitation to Spring Training 2011.  Guzman had a productive 2009 in which he appeared in 55 games as a reliever.  That was a career-high number of appearances for Guzman as he posted a nifty 2.95 ERA and served as a valuable member of the Cubs bullpen.  That effort took its toll on Guzman, however, as he suffered a season-ending injury in Spring Training 2010.  He underwent career-threatening arthroscopic surgery to insert several pins into his right shoulder to repair a torn ligament.  It’s unclear how effective Guzman will be by February, but he has clearance from doctors to be ready for Spring Training.

Guzman had a ton of potential, but injuries continued to stunt his growth and knock him out of the major league ranks.  We’ll keep you posted how his off-season program is going or if Guzman suffers any other setbacks during the winter…

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Cubs Spring Training Home to Remain in Mesa, Arizona – Wrigley Field Southwest 11/5/10

Posted on 05 November 2010 by Lou

Mesa, Arizona will remain the spring training home for the Chicago Cubs after voters approved Mesa Proposition 420 earlier this week.  63% of all ballots cast supported the proposition.  Now that Mesa voters have approved funding for the construction of a new spring training for the Cubs, the city will provide up to $99 million for the project.  $84 million will be allocated to facility construction and the other $15 million will be allocated to infrastructure concerns.  Anything over the $99 million mark will be covered by the Cubs organization.  The new facility should be ready for the 2013 Spring Training schedule, so the Cubs have 2 more years left at HoHoKam Park in Mesa.  The Cubs have trained in Mesa since 1979 and they have led the Cactus League in attendance 13 of the last 15 seasons.

Tom Ricketts was thrilled with the approval:  “In a show of tremendous support in a particularly difficult economy, Mesa voters recognized the potential of partnering with the Chicago Cubs on an economic investment and future we can, together, create for the city.  Our public-private partnership means jobs for Mesa, tourism dollars for the city and the region, and will drive private investment in Mesa and in the development of Wrigleyville West.”

Sorry, I guess I called it “Wrigley Field Southwest” not “Wrigleyville West” as Ricketts dubbed it.  Can’t wait to check out the new digs in Mesa in 2013…

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