Archive | February, 2012

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Matt Garza & Ryan Dempster Likely to Be Opening Day Starter in 2012 – Wrigley Field 2/27/12

Posted on 27 February 2012 by Lou

Manager Dale Sveum announced that Rodrigo Lopez will start the Cubs Cactus League opener against the Oakland A’s this Sunday March 4th at HoHoKam Stadium.  Ryan Demspter will start the next day and Matt Garza will start game 3.  That lineup lines up Garza to start opening day for the Cubs against the Washington Nationals on Thursday April 5th at Wrigley Field – pitching every 5th day during the spring.  Dempster could also skip one day at some point during the spring to line up as the Cubs opening day starter at Wrigley (Dempster was the Cubs opening day starter last year knocking for Cubs Carlos Zambrano out of the spot that he had held for 6 straight seasons).  When asked for more specifics about his intentions, Sveum was elusive – “No, we’ll probably make that decision in the middle of the Cactus League schedule.”

Let the drama begin…

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Cubs Move to US Cellular or Miller Park? Not Likely During Wrigley Field Construction – 2/25/12

Posted on 25 February 2012 by Lou

The Cubs and Chairman Tom Ricketts have indicated that there will be Wrigley Field construction scheduled in the near future.  As for those rumors swirling around that the Cubs would play a full MLB season at either U.S. Cellular Field on the south side or Miller Park in Milwaukee in order to expedite the construction project? Not likely.

Ricketts quickly shot down those rumors in Mesa – “There’s no plans for us to play anywhere else but Wrigley Field.” That was that.  He also talked about his excitement for the upcoming as his new team takes shape for 2012 – “My message is, we talk about let’s use all 40 days as best we can and just communicate with them…. We want to be the best organization in baseball.  If there’s feedback, make sure it gets up to us so we can do the best that we can…. I talk to Theo all the time; it’s great.”

Maybe we’ll see a World Series title in the near future?!

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NL MVP Ryan Braun Wins Appeal of 50-Game Drug Suspension Over Bud Selig & MLB – Wrigley Field 2/23/12

Posted on 23 February 2012 by Lou

This is not really a Cubs story, but can you believe that Ryan Braun won his appeal of MLB’s 5-game drug suspension?!  This helps the Milwaukee Brewers immensely.  Instead of being without their top hitter (now that Prince Fielder is gone) for a 1/3 of the season, Braun will be right in the middle of the Brewers lineup with a HUGE chip on his shoulder.  MLB issued a 50-game suspension against the NL MVP back in December claiming that the slugger had elevated levels of testosterone.  Braun vehemently denied the allegations (who wouldn’t, even if you were guilty, right?) and appealed the suspension.  When the 3-person panel overturned the suspension (2-1 with the independent arbitrator siding with Braun and the players’ association), Braun became the 1st player to win an appeal of such type.

Braun was thrilled with the outcome: “I am very pleased and relieved by today’s decision.  It is the first step in restoring my good name and reputation. We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side… We provided complete cooperation throughout, despite the highly unusual circumstances. I have been an open book, willing to share details from every aspect of my life as past of this investigation, because I have nothing to hide. I have passed over 25 drug tests in my career, including at least 3 in the past year.”

Good for Braun – while it definitely hurts the Cubs chances of making a surprise run at the NL Central title, in the long run this is good for baseball.  Players should be able to challenge MLB’s drug testing procedures and analysis, and if there is an issue with a “false” “positive” testing, then there should be a system in place where a player can be vindicated in the public eye…

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Chris Carpenter Sent to Red Sox for Theo Epstein “Compensation” – Wrigley Field 2/21/12

Posted on 21 February 2012 by Lou

Finally – the Cubs have to send reliever Chris Carpenter to the Boston Red Sox as compensation for hiring away Theo Epstein as its new President of Baseball Operations.  This was a long time coming and although Carpenter has only had 10 mediocre major league appearances, it seems like a “too high” price to pay for someone that doesn’t even take the field.  Throw in the fact that the Red Sox chose NOT to keep Epstein (he was under contract as the Red Sox GM for 1 more year and they could have renegotiated an extension with him if they wanted to), and this seems like a bit of a coup for the Red Sox who are in need of pitching help anywhere they can find it.

Epstein had this to say – “I am relieved that this process is over and particularly pleased that the teams were able to reach agreement on their own without intervention from MLB… I truly hope and believe that this resolution will benefit both clubs, as well as Chris, who is an extremely talented reliever joining a great organization at a time when there’s some opportunity in the major league bullpen.”

Carepenter is 26 years old and he appeared in 42 games for the Cubs in 2011 – at the Double-A, Triple-A and major league levels.  He appeared in 10 games at the big league level – 2.79 ERA.  In 4 minor league season, Carpenter is 21-19 with a 3.62 ERA.

At least this is finally over…

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Blake DeWitt Back in the Mix for the Cubs – Wrigley Field 2/20/12

Posted on 20 February 2012 by Lou

Blake DeWitt has decided to take his “assignment” off of the Cubs 40-man roster and join the rest of the crew in Mesa for Spring Training 2012.

This was purely a “dollars and sense” decision for DeWitt.  He avoided arbitration with the Cubs by agreeing to a 1-year, $1.1 million deal back in January.  By accepting the Cubs assignment, he is guaranteed that $1.1 million deal, even if he does not make the opening day roster.  After the Cubs dumped DeWitt to pick up Adrian Cardenas off of waivers from the A’s, no team claimed DeWitt during the 10-day waiver window, so it then fell back on DeWitt to make his decision.  If he did not accept the Cubs assignment, he would have become a free agent for the 1st time in his career, but he likely wouldn’t have found another million dollar deal out there.  Good for him for using his head and not holding a grudge against the Cubs for releasing him.

DeWitt will now fight for some role with the Cubs opening day roster this spring.  GM Jed Hoyer had some kind words for DeWitt – “We are certainly hopeful that he will remain with us.  Our thoughts haven’t changed about Blake.  We were able to acquire Cardenas and our hope was to have both guys in the organization. If Blake comes back he has every possible chance to compete for a job in camp and have very much the same role as last year.”

This should make for a fun spring for the young infielders (Darwin Barney, Cardenas, DeWitt) competing for a spot with the major league club.

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Pitchers & Catchers Report to Mesa Today – Wrigley Field 2/18/12

Posted on 18 February 2012 by Lou

Pitchers and catchers report to the Cubs spring training camp in Mesa today.  New Manager Dale Sveum and new pitching coach Chris Bosio are thrilled to get things going.

Sveum stated – “We have all the parts.  They just have to get it done in the big leagues.  We have plenty of guys who can have productive years.”

I like his optimism.  With the new regime in place, let’s hope some guys feel a little added pressure and realize that they’re going to have to work hard and bring their “A-game” each and every day if they expect to find playing time for Sveum, Epstein and Hoyer for years to come.

Let’s Go Cubs!

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Epstein “Compensation” to be Determined by Commissioner Bud Selig – Wrigley Field 2/17/12

Posted on 17 February 2012 by Lou

The Cubs still owe compensation to the Boston Red Sox for allowing the north siders to hire GM Theo Epstein as the Cubs new President of Baseball Operations.  After the sides tried to work out the determination of that compensation on their own, the 2 sides have agreed to let Commissioner Bud Selig make the call.  Although both sides remain mum on the situation, each team has presented a written argument to Selig regarding what it believes to be the proper “value” or “consideration for the Epstein departure to the Cubs.  Selig has given no indication where he stands on the issue and he has not given a timetable for when his decision will be disclosed to the teams.

Now that it looks like Carl Crawford is going to start the season on the DL, maybe we can send Alfonso Soriano their way for a few extra million?!  He could even DH for them once Big Papi leaves after the 2012 campaign.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything…

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Kosuke Fukudome Back to Chicago… on the South Side – Wrigley Field 2/15/12

Posted on 15 February 2012 by Lou

Wow – I was a bit nervous when I heard that Kosuke Fukudome was heading back to Chicago.  Thankfully it’s on the south side with GM Kenny Williams and the White Sox.

Fukudome will make $500,000 in 2012 and the White Sox have a 2013 club option worth $3 million.  Or they can just buy him out for another $500,000 before the start of the season.  And to think that the Cubs actually paid him $48 million for his 4 years on the north side.  Good old GM Jim Hendry – every player’s (and player’s agent) best friend.

After the Cubs outbid everyone to land the Japanese League MVP back in 2008, Fukudome went on to become an average (at best) major league outfielder.  Sure, he made the All-Star team in his 1st year with the Cubs (pretty much every Cub did that season except for back-up catcher Koyie Hill). And if you’re looking for someone with a great on-base percentage (.361 career average) but very little offensive skills, Kosuke is your man.  In 4 seasons in the NL, Fukudome had a .260 batting average, with 42 HR’s, 191 RBI’s, 262 runs scored, 491 hits and 299 walks.  But if you look more closely at his numbers, he had 129 hits and scored 79 runs in each of his 1st 2 seasons with the Cubs, so his numbers have really dropped off the last 2 years.

Fukudome turns 35 years old in April, so he will be nothing more than a back-up/spot starter for Robin Ventura’s White Sox during the 2012 MLB campaign.    Assistant GM Rick Hahn pretty much echoed those sentiments when discussing his role with the White Sox – “We’re not looking for this guy to come in and completely change his approach.  We just want him to be the player he’s proven to be over the last four years.”  Good luck with that one…

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Cubs – Best Decoy in Baseball Today as A’s Ink Cespedes – Wrigley Field 2/13/12

Posted on 13 February 2012 by Lou

The A’s signed Cuban defector Yoenis Cespedes to a 4-year, $36 million deal further proving that the Cubs are the best decoys in baseball today.  Cespedes himself said that he felt like the Cubs were the most active team pursuing him for his services.  And from the sounds of things, it doesn’t look like the Cubs even made him a competitive offer (the Marlins reportedly offered Cespedes $36 million as well, but for 6 years of his time).  Go back to the Albert Pujols saga.  Supposedly the Cubs made Pujols a legit offer.  Shortly thereafter, he signed a 10-year deal with the Angels.  The Cubs were allegedly quietly pursuing Prince Fielder too.  But no offer was made and Fielder signed a 9-year deal with the Tigers.

Theo Epstein and his crew have always been known for keeping things close to the vest and for potentially disseminating exaggerated information.  And it looks like that trend has already started with the Cubs.  Most of the time I like the tactic.  You might be able to drive up the price of a player who you know you will never sign.  It might also help you sneak in and snag a player out from someone else’s grasp if you really want them that bad.  But right now, with the Cubs team in such shambles, it’s hard to hear all of these rumors floating around all the time and then come up empty-handed.  Granted with Cespedes, I would have been completely shocked if they made a crazy offer to sign a 26-year old Cuban defector who has never played a single inning at the major league level.  It just didn’t fit into the new management’s MO.  You’re gonna pass on Pujols and Fielder – 2 proven stars – but then throw a ton of cash at someone in the hopes that he’ll be a star?!  No way.

So another day has passed and the Cubs have stayed pat, waiting their time.  Sure, more salary comes off the books in 2013.  No more Ryan Dempster.  No more Marlon Byrd.  And maybe with only 2-years and $36 million left on his deal, the Cubs will be willing to move Alfonso Soriano and eat $25-30 million just for a team to take him.  If some of these youngsters show some promise (Brett Jackson, Anthony Rizzo, Adrian Cardenas), then maybe Theo and Co. will target a free agent or 2 to try to sign in the off-season to complement the major league roster.  But it is sure going to be a slow process on the north side.  Based on their moves (or rather lack of moves) this winter, it is clear that they have a plan and that they are going to stick to that plan no matter what…

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Not Good – Hoyer Expects Soriano to Start 2012 Campaign as Starting Left Fielder – Wrigley Field 2/10/12

Posted on 10 February 2012 by Lou

GM Jed Hoyer made it pretty clear that Alfonso Soriano is the Cubs starting left fielder heading into the 2012 MLB campaign.  Boo!!!

The Cubs GM was on with ESPN Radio 1000′s Carmen, Jurko and Harry show on Thursday afternoon and made the following statement: “I think that’s unlikely [that Soriano would be on another team at the start of the season]. Our hope certainly… I know Soriano’s been working really hard this offseason … our hope is obviously you want him to get on base a little more.  The power was there last year, the RBI’s were there.  Obviously it really comes down to defense and we’re hoping with some better conditioning and some better health, that he can be a little better out there.”

That is not what I wanted to hear.  On the other hand, with no other real power threat in the lineup, having Soriano in there might not be that bad of an option (assuming he can stay healthy).

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