Archive | Wrigley Field

So Cool — Massive Video Scoreboard Installation & Bleachers Renovation Underway

Posted on 13 November 2014 by Lou

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Finally – construction has begun in earnest to install a new massive Video Scoreboard in left field for the first time ever at Wrigley Field.  We’ll finally get to see those controversial video replays while STILL AT the Friendly Confines — instead of having to wait to get home to watch Sportscenter later that night.

The Cubs have also demolished the left and right field bleachers.  They will be rebuilt with wider concourses and more amenities for fans.  Check out these amazing photos of what the ballpark currently looks like…

The Ricketts Family has gotta be salivating right now.  Let’s just hope we have a warm winter so this can all get finished before opening day in April 2015 against the hated St. Louis Cardinals…

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We’re Back! Cubs Ready To Contend In 2015…

Posted on 03 November 2014 by Lou

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Well, here we go again.  It’s been just shy of 2 years — but I’m finally ready to jump back on that “Cubs-writing horse” again.

At least my last post back on December 20th, 2012 –YES 2012! — was pretty much right on.  The Cubs were on the verge of signing Edwin Jackson to a 4-year, $52 million deal.  I was besides myself.  The Cubs had lost 91 games in 2011 and then 101 games in 2012.  Theo & Co. were preaching a good old-fashioned rebuild.  They lost out on the Anibel Sanchez sweepstakes to the more competitive Detroit Tigers.  Fine I get it – you swing and missed on a solid starter.  But did that mean you had to go sign Edwin Jackson to a bad contract?! Hell No!  But they did anyway. And as I predicted, it was a bad move (in 2013, Jackson went 8-18 with a 4.98 ERA and 1.46 WHIP and in 2014, Jackson went 6-15 with a 6.33 ERA and 1.64 WHIP). And that was it – I could not bear to continue to vent about this team any longer.

But 683 days later, I have finally put that all behind me.  Cubby Blue forever, right?  It hasn’t been easy, but I feel like Theo & Co. are back on course.  Theo acknowledged his Jackson-signing-mistake and vowed never to make a rash decision like that, just to make a move that might placate the fan base.

Sure the Cubs lost 96 games in 2013.  But they continued the re-build the right way with key trades to acquire young talent (Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks, Neil Ramirez, Justin Grimm, Pedro Strop, etc,).  After the 2013 season, , the Cubs swung and missed on the Tanaka sweepstakes, but they learned from their Edwin Jackson mess and stayed true to the re-build.  They didn’t go take their Tanaka money and spent it on one or 2 lower tier players.  They kept it for a rainy day (see “rainy day” signing of Joe Maddon below).

Sure the Cubs lost 89 games in 2014.  But they continued the re-build the right way with key trades to acquire young talent (Addison Russell, Bill McKinney, Jacob Turner, Felix Doubront, etc.).  There was a different vibe in the clubhouse and in Wrigley Field, as Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo returned to All-Star form.  They were as excited as heck when they won, and never sank too low when they lost.  Manager Rick Renteria wasn’t perfect, but he had a great attitude for the task at hand.  And that positive attitude resonated with his players.  And when Tampa Rays manager Joe Maddon opted out of his contract just a little over a week ago, the Cubs had the perfect chance to land a manager who could lead them all the way back to contention.  Sure it may not have been the most popular move in some circles, but Theo had a decision to make for the “organization” not just for “one player” or “one coach” or “one executive” or “one fan” like me.  And if landing one of the best managers in baseball meant you had to fire a respected manager like Renteria, then it had to be done for the good of the organization.

So it all comes full circle from the whole Edwin Jackson signing debacle.

It reminded Theo & Co. that one move was not going to turn the Cubs into perennial World Series front-runners.

It reminded Theo & Co. that they needed to stay true to a well-formulated plan.

It reminded Theo & Co. that not all of their moves were going to be popular with the team or with the fans.  Fans were mad when the Cubs traded away Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Matt Garza, Scott Feldman, Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel (and the list could go on and on).  But look where they are now because Theo & Co. made those unpopular trades.

Some fans are mad that they sought another manager even when Rick Renteria was still under contract.  Some fans are mad that they are paying $25 million over 5 years to Joe Maddon when they think the Cubs should be paying more money to players that actually perform on the field.  But let’s look at that $25 million as 1 year of the Tanaka deal that never happened thereby giving Theo & Co. the financial means necessary to land a manager with the caliber of Maddon without comprising the pool of funds that can still be used to land productive players on the field.

We will have to see how the 2014 off-season moves all shake out, but I have a pretty good feeling that the number of losses in 2015 will be considerably less than the 89 losses in 2014.  And given my perfect prediction on how the whole Edwin Jackson signing would turn out, you can take that to the bank…

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Cubs Close to Signing Deal with Edwin Jackson?!?!? – Wrigley Field 12-20-12

Posted on 20 December 2012 by Lou

What — the Cubs are close to signing Edwin Jackson to a 4-year, $52 million deal?  This does not make any sense at all.  What happened to Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer building from within and building for the future.  Jackson is 29 years old.  He went 10-11 with a 4.03 in a pitcher-friendly Nationals Park pitching against weak NL East opponents like the New York Mets, Florida Marlins and Philadelphia Phillies.  He has a career 4.40 ERA with a 70-71 record.  His best season came 5 years ago when he went 14-11 with the Tampa Rays and a “sparkling” 4.42 ERA?  All these stats warrant a $13 million dollar deal from the Cubs.  It’s not like the Cubs are going to be doing anything in 2013 and maybe not even 2014.  So way waste $26 million a guy for 2 lost seasons.  Especially given all the other cost-cutting moves that the Cubs have made since Theo & Co. took over back in November 2011, this move really doesn’t make any sense at all to me.

I guess he has started at least 31 games in every season since 2007, so he is durable.  And I guess this gives them some flexibility to move a Matt Garza at the trading deadline next season to bring back some more pitching prospects, but Cubs brass is really going to have to work to convince me that this was the right move for the Cubs to make at this juncture…

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Cubs Re-Sign 3B Ian Stewart to 1-Year, $2 Million Deal – Wrigley Field 12-10-12

Posted on 10 December 2012 by Lou

The Cubs opted to re-sign 3B Ian Stewart to a 1-year deal this weekend.  Stewart will have a base salary of $2 million and there are incentives in the deal that could net Stewart an additional $500,000.  With the free agent market thin at the third base position, and with the lackluster performance from young prospect Josh Vitters in 2012 (.121 batting average in 99 at-bats in 36 games), the Cubs were kind of “forced” to re-sign Stewart despite his paltry 2012 numbers.  Stewart racked up only 202 at-bats in 55 games in 2012 due to a wrist injury.  He had a surgery on the wrist to fix the nagging problem and is on track to be ready for Spring Training 2013.  Let’s hope so.  He hit just .201 with 5 HR’s, 17 RBI’s and a pathetic .292 on-base percentage.  Looks like GM Jed Hoyer and President Theo Epstein are still looking for their 3rd baseman of the future in the coming seasons…

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Cubs Officially Sign Kyuji Fujikawa to 2-Year Deal – Wrigley Field 12-9-12

Posted on 09 December 2012 by Lou

The Cubs and right-handed reliever Kyuji Fujikawa officially agreed to a 3-year, $9.5 million deal on Friday.  Fujikawa is 32 years old and will likely serve as a set-up man to current Cubs closer Carlos Marmol.  GM Jed Hoyer and President Theo Epstein are confident that a more consistent back-end of the rotation will lead to more W’s in 2013.  With Marmol, Fujikawa, James Russell and Shawn Camp ready to shoulder a good chunk of the load, that should allow Manager Dale Sveum a few more options during the long season and hopefully keep guys more fresh as the season wears on.  It could also give Epstein and Hoyer some flexibility to move Marmol (who is owed $9.8 million in 2013) at some point in order to bring back a few young arms and help deepen the Cubs pitching potential in the minor leagues.

The Cubs signed Fujikawa to a “team-friendly contract” of 2 years and $9.5 million.  He gets a $1 million signing bonus plus salaries of $4 million in each of 2013 and 2014.  The Cubs can buy him out for $500,000 at the end of 2014 if Fujikawa does not meet a “games-finished” option that vests if he meets a certain level.  The dollar value for the 2015 vesting option is either $5.5 million or $6 million.

Hoyer had this to say about the addition – “Our goal is to have the best bullpen possible. Kyuji certainly adds to that. He’s had a great career. If you look at his career, he was a dominant setup guy first and a dominant closer. We know he can do both roles. We look at it as adding a great arm, and we don’t worry about the role.”

Little by little the Cubs are piecing together their 2013 roster.  While they are not going to make any splashy moves this off-season, at least it seems like they have a plan to address a few of the areas that really hurt the club in 2012. That could mean a team that is more competitive in 2013 – http://www.ticketchest.com/sports/MLB_Tickets/Chicago_Cubs/ – let’s hope…

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Cubs May Have a Deal for Japanese Closer Kyuji Fujikawa – Wrigley Field 12/1/12

Posted on 01 December 2012 by Lou

The Cubs are in hot pursuit of Japanese closer Kyuji Fujikawa.  Fujikawa, 32, has pitched in 12 seasons for the Hanshin Tigers.  He has racked up 220 saves during that time with a 1.77 ERA.  The deal is supposedly for 2 years and $9.5 million.  The Cubs have not confirmed the deal although it is believed that the only remaining hurdle is a Fujikawa physical.

While some scouts believe that Fujikawa can close in the big leagues, other scouts seem to think that he is better suited as a setup man for a more-established closer (especially since he has not pitched70 innings in any season since 2007).  We’re not sure if Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein will continue to shop current closer Carlos Marmol once the deal is announced, but it could give the Cubs some flexibility now or before the 2013 trading deadline.

We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything concrete.

 

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Cubs Sign Scott Feldman to 1-Year, $6 Million Deal – Wrigley Field 11/27/12

Posted on 27 November 2012 by Lou

The Cubs signed Scott Feldman to a 1-year, $6 million deal. Feldman made 21 starts for the Texas Rangers in 2012 and Cubs GM Jed Hoyer expects Feldman to be a starter for the Cubs in 2013.  Hoyer stated: “I know he has bounced around a little bit with the Rangers, but in large part that was due to the amount of starting pitchers they had.  We clearly see him as a starter, and we are excited to add him to the rotation.” He posted a high 5.09 ERA for the Rangers and only went 6-11.  He had a breakout year with the Rangers in 2009, going 17-8 with a 4.08 ERA in 31 starts.  He hopes a change of scenery knowing that he will be a starter will help him return to form.  Feldman stated: “Starting is something I have always wanted to do during my career.  When Cubs executives gave me the go ahead on that and let me know I was in their plans from the get-go it was something that made me very interested in coming to the Cubs.

The Cubs are starting to round out the group of starting pitchers expected to be in the mix in 2013.  Matt Garza, Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood appear to be locks.  Feldman is in that mix as well and Scott Baker could compete for a spot as well assuming his continued recovery from surgery stays on track.

We’ll keep you posted as the Cubs make further moves this winter…

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Cubs Ink Dioner Navarro to 1-Year, $1.75 Million Deal – Wrigley Field 11/25/12

Posted on 25 November 2012 by Lou

The signed veteran catcher Dioner Navarro to a 1-year, $1.75 million deal last week.  Navarro is 28 years old and he spent the 2012 MLB season playing for the Cincinnati Reds and their Triple-A club in Louisville.  In his 24 big league games, he hit .290 with 12 RBI’s.  In 2008, Navarro was an American League All-Star and a teammate of Matt Garza with the Rays.   Navarro will back up projected starter Wellington Castillo who made a big impression in 2012 by hitting .265 in 52 major league games – a career high for the youngster.

We’ll keep you posted as things heat up at the winter meetings.

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Cubs Take Shot on Ex-Twins’ Starter Scott Baker – Wrigley Field 11/13/12

Posted on 13 November 2012 by Lou

The Cubs and Scott Baker have agreed on a 1-year deal for the 2013 MLB season.  Baker missed the entire 2012 season once he had Tommy John surgery in April.  He is expected to be able to be in the Cubs starting rotation coming out of spring training.  In 2011, Baker appeared in 23 games, even posting a solid 2.86 ERA through the first 3 months of the season.  But an elbow strain sidelined him for much of the rest of the campaign and although he did pitch at the end of the season, he never was the same.  The elbow soreness lingered all throughout the winter, so he opted for the surgery in April 2012.

Baker had this to say about the signing: “I truly believe if you put the work in and prepare yourself for every start, that’s the best you can do.  Once you go out there and you are fully prepared then it’s about executing pitches…. I’m excited working with the coaching staff and medical staff. It’s a big season for me and the organization. I look forward to giving the team a chance to win.”

President of Baseball Ops Theo Epstein talked about the risk of signing a player coming off of Tommy John surgery: “I think we are very comfortable placing our bet on Scott Baker… Obviously there are no certainties on rehabs, but we spent quite a bit of time on the medical and on the rehab, and it was described by our staff as an ideal Tommy John rehab so far. Knock on wood. Everything has one perfectly so far, and he has really attacked it in an ideal manner.”

Go Cubs Go – Now it looks like we have our 4th starter. I still hope the Theo & Co. add 2 more starters just in case there are a few setbacks with Baker.  Guess we’ll have to see what happens along the way, but I like the Baker move…

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Cubs Lose Bid for South Korean Lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu – Wrigley Field 11/11/12

Posted on 11 November 2012 by Lou

The Cubs qualifying bid for South Korean lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu was not good enough as the Los Angeles Dodgers won the right to sign Ryu with a $25.75 million posting bid.  The Dodgers keep taking on more salary under Magic Johnson’s new ownership team now that the nasty McCourt divorce issue is behind the organization.  The Dodgers traded for Josh Beckett Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford this season all of whom have hug contracts down the line.

In Ryu’s 1st professional season back in 2006 the lefty went 18-6 with a 2.23 ERA while racking up 205 strikeouts.  Ryu helped South Korea top Cuba in the championship game of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.  And despite a 9-9 record last season Ryu still had a sparkling 2.66 ERA with 210 strikeouts in 27 starts.

The Cubs are still in the free agent market for 2 starting pitchers.  Matt Garza Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood are likely starters back in 2013 for the Cubs.

We’ll keep you posted if anything develops over the next few weeks as baseball meetings heat up pretty quickly this winter…

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