Archive | February, 2011

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Cubs, Closer Carlos Marmol Agree to 3-Year, $20 Million Deal – Wrigley Field 2/14/11

Posted on 14 February 2011 by Lou

Great news Cubs fans – Carlos Marmol & the Cubs agreed upon a 3-year, $20 million deal today.  The deal will pay him $3.2 million in 2011, $7 million in 2012 and $9.8 million in 2013.  Marmol is 28 years old and he gives up his 1st year of free agency by agreeing to the 3-year deal.  Marmol converted 38 of 43 save opportunities in 2010 and he set a major league record for strikeouts per 9 inning averaging 15.99 K’s.  Everyone seems to be thrilled with the deal.

GM Jim Hendry had this to say about locking up Marmol long-term: “Carlos is rewarded with well-deserved security…  The great ones are hard to find.  Obviously, the numbers the kid puts up and the year he had last year were starting to approach the upper echelon of the game.  At 28, he’s never had any health issues.  Hopefully, he can keep getting better and stay healthy and you have one of the better guys in the business.  He’s obviously handled the big market, handled the big stage and he’s a good teammate.”

Marmol himself was thrilled to be able to stay long-term with the team that drafted him back in 1999 as a catcher: “I want to secure my life, my family, my career.  It’s not about money, it’s about security.  I feel good in Chicago.  Hopefully, I can sign a 10-year deal… I grew up in this organization, and Oneri and Jim have been here for me.”

And Manager Mike Quade loves the fact that he has someone he can count on at the end of close games: “To have somebody you can count on to finish a game is huge.  It’s been talked about a bunch of times about how devastating late-inning losses can be.  ‘Marm’ has been good, he’s going to be better.  That’s good stuff for ‘Marm’ and his agent for putting that deal together.”

Now the Cubs can settle in on getting ready this spring and winning games during the 2011 MLB schedule…

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Jeff Samardzija Ready to Shine as Reliever in 2011 — Wrigley Field 2/12/11

Posted on 12 February 2011 by Lou

Now that his role has been defined, Jeff Samardzija is ready to shine during the 2011 MLB schedule.  The Cubs have officially informed Samardzija that he is not going to be considered for either the 4th or 5th spot in the starting rotation this spring.  The Cubs have continually waffled on where they saw Samardzija fitting into the team’s pitching staff since he was called up in mid-season in 2008.  That indecision has probably cost Samardzija on his development as a pitcher, so now the Cubs are ready to commit to using Samardzija exclusively as a reliever in 2011.  That should bode well for everyone involved.

Samardzija is out of options, so that means he either makes the Cubs opening day roster this spring or the Cubs have to release him to waivers once Spring Training ends.  A team will certainly take a shot on Samardzija given the success he had in his first season in the pros when he appeared in 26 games during the middle of a pennant race and posted a nifty 2.28 ERA. He has struggled with his control a little bit since then, but at 26 years of age, he still has a ton of upside.

Samardzija is excited for the challenge and isn’t thinking about trying football in the future – “Obviously going back to football is always there in the back of your mind, but I’m not that kind of guy.  I’m too locked into what I’m doing here with baseball.  I would not be able to end how I’ve ended these last two years and say, ‘You know what, it’s been fun, and I’m going to go play football and for the rest of my life look back and see how I ended baseball on a sour note… I’ve got a lot of pride and when it comes to doing things I want to be good at things, I want to be great at things.  Baseball is what I want to do,  It’s almost become a nice little personal challenge here with what we’ve been through the last year or two.  I really want to see how this thing ends up.”

I’m not the only one who feels like the Cubs messed up this situation by continually changing Samardzija from a starter to a reliever.  ESPN Radio 1000’s Bruce Levine has been very vocal on how the Cubs should have defined Samardzija’s role more clearly and how not doing so probably stunted his growth a bit.  Let’s hope the clarity this spring will mean good things for Samardzija out of the bullpen in 2011.  The Cubs could use a solid option in the bullpen this season after dealing with way too many fresh faces in 2010.  Good luck Jeff!

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Starlin Castro Watch – Wrigley Field 2/10/11

Posted on 11 February 2011 by Lou

The Starlin Castro watch is on.  After hitting .300 in his 1st major league season, there are lofty expectations for the 20-year starting shortstop of the Cubs.

Castro must improve on the defensive side of the ball — he committed 27 errors.

Many scouts/baseball experts see Castro developing more pop in his bat as he gets a little older and bigger.  Will we see some of that in 2011?

Can’t wait to find out soon – less than 2 months until opening day…

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What Happened To Harry Caray Statue? – Wrigley Field 2/9/11

Posted on 09 February 2011 by Lou

The Cubs are still investigating an act of vandalism to the Harry Caray statue outside the entrance to the Bud Light Bleachers at Wrigley Field.  The word “Sox” was “graffiti’d” on the statue along with another word that was illegible.  The Cubs have already removed the white spray paint as they are still gathering information about the incident.

Harry Caray’s statue was moved from the corner of Addison and Sheffield during the 2010 MLB season last year to its current location at the corner of Waveland and Sheffield.  The last time the Harry Caray statue had been vandalized was in October 2007 when Chicago police had to remove the remains of a dead goat carcass from the statue.   The statue was also damaged during the preparation for the Northwestern-Illinois college football game this past November when a work truck accidentally struck and damaged the base.  Full repairs to the statue are expected to completed prior to the start of the 2011 MLB schedule.

I assume the Cubs have security cameras all over the place at Wrigley Field, so they should get to the bottom of this pretty quickly.  We’ll keep you posted as soon as we can confirm anything further on who damaged the Harry Caray Statue…

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Geovany Soto / Blake DeWitt – Lineup Questions – Wrigley Field 2/8/11

Posted on 08 February 2011 by Lou

Where Geovany Soto and Blake DeWitt fit into the Cubs lineup for 2011 makes for some interesting chats.

Soto rebounded from a down 2009 MLB season with a solid 2010 campaign.  Soto had a career-best .393 on-base percentage during the season and hit with HR’s and RBI’s.  Will we see Soto higher up in the lineup?  Probably not.  Soto is better suited to be in the 5, 6 or 7 spot where he can drive in runs.  He is a patient hitter, so if runners are on base in front of him, he puts pitchers in a tough position.  They can walk him and put more runners on base, or they can pitch to him and risk letting him be the hero by driving in runs.  Look for Aramis Ramirez to move up to the 3-spot in 2011, with Carlos Pena batting clean-up, Marlon Byrd in the 5-hole and Soto in the 6-hole.

Blake DeWitt is gearing up for a productive 2010.  DeWitt spent the off-season eliminating a tap mechanism from his batting stance.  The Cubs hope that the new hitting stance will give DeWitt an extra advantage against pitchers and allow him to be more patient at the plate.  Hitting Coach Rudy Jaramillo has already spent time with DeWitt in Arizona, so he should be ahead of the game once camp breaks later this month.

These are all good signs Cubs fans.  With expectations so low for this unpredictable ball club, the Cubs could end up surprising some people in 2011…

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Cubs Desperate For 2011 Ticket Sales – Wrigley Field 2/7/11

Posted on 07 February 2011 by Lou

The Cubs are clearly desperate for 2011 ticket sales numbers to improve.  After a very poor 2010 at the box office, it looks like 2011 may not be much better.

About 2 weeks ago, the Cubs announced a 13-game pak for customers to purchase.  Sales for that pack must have been awful — they just announced a modified 13-game pak which allowed a customer to buy more of the more popular games on the 2011 schedule against the likes of the White Sox, New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals.

Now the Cubs just announced the on-sale of new 6-game paks for the upcoming season.  Customers will be able to buy tickets to 10 different 6-game paks being offered by the Cubs.  6-game paks go on sale on Friday at 10am CST.

There will be a MasterCard presale on February 23rd, where customers will be able to buy tickets at a “premium” to any Cubs home game in 2011.

Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday February 25th.

Go Cubs!

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Bruce Levine — Congrats on 20 Years of Excellent Chicago Baseball Coverage – Wrigley Field 2/5/11

Posted on 05 February 2011 by Lou

Congrats to ESPN Radio 1000’s Bruce Levine who is celebrating 20 years of excellent Chicago baseball coverage during a quality career in the business.  Levine has hosted Talking Baseball on ESPN Radio since 1990 and he always gets the scoop first – whether it’s for the Cubs or Sox.  The guy can be a bit blunt and caustic, but come on, who isn’t from time to time.  I always enjoy listening to the guy and look forward to listening to him for another 20 years…

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Long-Term Deal in the Works for Carlos Marmol – Wrigley Field 2/4/11

Posted on 04 February 2011 by Lou

Following up our Carlos Marmol story from the other day, it looks like a long-term deal is imminent for Carlos Marmol.  The Cubs have indicated that a physical exam during spring training will be a prerequisite for the deal to become official.  This is not a big surprise.  The Cubs want to lock up Marmol long-term, but they also want to make sure there isn’t anything to be concerned with from a health perspective.  Let’s hope Marmol complies with the exam request and then we’ll be excited to hear about the terms of the long-term deal. Marmol saved 38 out of 43 chances for the Cubs in 2010.  He struck out 138 hitters over just 77+ innings.  That 15.99 K’s per 9 innings was a major league record.  Give the guy a deal and let him go to work.  Just think what he could do if the Cubs actually had an offense one of these years…

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Former Cubs Skipper Lou Pinella Takes Job as Giants’ Special Assistant — Wrigley Field 2/3/11

Posted on 03 February 2011 by Lou

Former Cubs Manager Lou Pinella has announced that he is now going to serve as a special assistant for the World Series Champion San Francisco Giants.  Pinella will report to Giants General Manager Brian Sabean with whom he is good friends.  Pinella had this to say about jumping back into the “work force” despite quitting his Cubs gig early last August because he said he wanted to spend more time with his family: “I took a little consulting job with the Giants.  It’s a done deal.  I look forward to it.  Brian and I are good friends. Whatever Brian needs me to do.”  Pinella will likely scout American League teams during Grapefruit League spring training games and attend Tampa Bay Rays games at Tropicana Field near his home.  Not having to be on the go year-round was appealing to Pinella – “It gives me a chance to stay involved in baseball and not have to travel.  I worked with Brian a lot of years in New York.  He’s a good man.  They have several former Yankees working for the club.  They won a world championship — we won a world championship.  I’m joining a world-class organization.”

Sabean had this to say about the Pinella hiring: “He’s certainly a great addition because of the baseball acumen he has but also his personality.  We’ll have a lot of fun working together, plus he knows a lot of guys in the organization… There’s a need to be home but a lot of baseball is played in Florida, and spring training is right in his backyard.  We’ll use him as much as we can and take whatever time he can give us.”

Interesting move for Pinella.  I figured he would take at least a year off after the way his time with the Cubs ended.  But I guess he got the itch and it seems like a pretty flexible gig for the legendary skipper….

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What Should GM Jim Hendry & the Cubs Do with Closer Carlos Marmol & Starter Matt Garza? — Wrigley Field 2/2/11

Posted on 02 February 2011 by Lou

What will the Cubs and General Manager Jim Hendry do with Closer Carlos Marmol and Starter Matt Garza.

Marmol has emerged as a reliable and dependable closer.  He has 2 years of arbitration left.  Marmol is seeking $5.6 million for the 2011 MLB season, while the Cubs have offered $4.1 million.  Will the 2 sides meet in the middle or will the case go to arbitration?  Or could we see the 2 sides agree to a long-term deal that locks in Marmol as the Cubs closer for 3 or 4 years down the line.  A 3-year, $20 million deal or a 4-year, $30 million deal could make both sides happy.  The Cubs would get a little discount while Marmol would get some added security given the fact that he as averaged almost 80 appearances over the last 3 seasons.  That is a lot of mileage on one pitcher’s arm.

The Cubs face a similar dilemma with Garza, although, Garza still has 3 years of arbitration left.  Plus, Garza has yet to pitch in a Cubs uniform, so it might be nice to wait a year to make sure both sides are happy before entertaining long-term contract talks.  Garza and the Cubs agreed upon a $5.9 million deal for the 2011 MLB schedule.  If he keeps winning 15 games and racking up 200 innings pitched, he would likely command $10 million in 2012 and a little more than that in 2013 (his last 2 years of arbitration).  Will the sides try to come to terms on a long-term 4-5 year deal?  It would be in both sides’ best interests, but again, it will come down to dollars.  I have a feeling that the Cubs will hold off on Garza until they see how he handles the pressure in Chicago where fans have long-suffered without a World Series title for way too long.

We’ll keep you posted on either front as soon as anything happens…

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