Posted on 24 January 2009 by Lou
Kerry Wood was part of the Chicago Cubs organization for 13 years and has become a part of the City of Chicago like no other Cubs player of recent date. He calls Lincoln Park his home, and he will continue to call Chicago his home even after his signing with the Cleveland Indians this off-season. He made one final good-bye gesture to the city and Cubs fans with ads in the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times over the weekend:
“It has been an honor to have been a Chicago Cub for the last 13 years and to have played in the greatest ballpark, Wrigley Field. My deepest thanks to my teammates and the Cubs organization for taking a chance on a kid from Texas and welcoming me into the Cubs family.”
The ads also included pictures from his days as a Chicago Cub – when he signed with the Cubs in July 1995, when he struck out 20 batters in an MLB game in May 1998 and when he was the closer for the Cubs during the 2008 MLB season.
Wood has recently indicated that he would have returned to the Cubs in 2009 under a 1-year contract, but Cubs GM Jim Hendry disputes that contention. Hendry told the media and fans at this past weekend’s Cubs Convention that Wood’s agents were seeking a 3-year deal for the closer. Hendry felt that because of Wood’s injury issues the last 4 MLB seasons – that put Wood on the DL for more than 50% of the team’s games during that span – it would not be fair to the Cubs organization to sign Wood for that period of team.
In any event, it was nice that Wood had nice things to say about the Cubs organization in his ads – despite this latest controversy – and we’re sure we’ll be seeing lots of Kerry Wood and his family in the Chicago area for years to come. Good luck Kerry!
Posted on 23 January 2009 by Lou
Well we finally have our answer – The Tribune Co. has selected the Ricketts family as the winning bidder to purchase the Chicago Cubs. The $900 million winning bid includes the purchase of the Chicago Cubs, Wrigley Field and a 25% interest in Comcast SportsNet – the local sports television network in the Midwest.
Tom Ricketts is a member of the Ricketts family which founded TD Ameritrade Holding Corp., an online brokerage house. Tom Ricketts is the CEO of InCapital LLC which is another family enterprise. Ricketts and the Cubs now need to negotiate the final terms of the deal and then obtain approval from 75% of the owners of the other 30 MLB teams. Cubs Chairman Crane Kenney believes that the deal can be consummated prior to Opening Day 2009. Once the deal is completed, Kenney has indicated that the new ownership team would be ready to move ahead with some plans that have been put on hold for the last 2 years pending the sale of the team. Those plans include renovations to Wrigley Field – the installation of new television monitors throughout Wrigley Field and the construction of the “Triangle Building” in the lot space just west of the stadium. Who knows – maybe the new owners will even consider authorizing Cubs GM Jim Hendry to re-open negotiations with the San Diego Padres to complete a trade for their starting pitcher ace Jake Peavy. The 2 teams had made significant progress during baseball’s winter meetings in early December, but the $63 million still owed to Peavy on his current contract was just too much for the Cubs to force on the new buyer of the Cubs at the time. Peavy would certainly help the Cubs in their quest of that elusive World Series title – 100 years and counting – but as usual, the almighty dollar is always the key.
One positive about the selection of the Ricketts family – they are life-long Cubs fans. Kenney indicated that Sam Zell and his team were looking for someone who would continue to implement the long-term strategy started by Kenny and Hendry 6+ years ago. That meant someone who held the Cubs and Wrigley Field as something special and sacred. The Ricketts family fit that mold the best because they indicated that they did not intend to move the team to a Chicago suburb or demolish Wrigley Field to build a new state-of-the-art facility. Ricketts himself summed it up best in a statement released to the media on Thursday night:
“My family and I are Cubs fans. We share the goal of Cubs fans everywhere to win a World Series and build the consistent championship tradition that the fans deserve.”
Thank you Tom – let’s hope your actions back up your words in the near future – Go Cubs!
Posted on 23 January 2009 by Lou
Following recent reports of more shoulder “issues” for Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Rich Harden, Harden announced that he will not pitch for Team Canada in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. The Canadian Team had included Harden on the preliminary roster, and Harden hoped to pitch in March for his home country, but he recently concluded that he won’t be 100% by the time the World Baseball Classic starts on March 5, 2009. Harden did not pitch in the 2006 World Baseball Classic as he was also dealing with arm issues back then.
Harden made 25 starts in 2008 with the Cubs and the A’s. He was 10-2 with a 2.07 ERA, including a 5-1 record with a 1.77 ERA in 12 starts with the Cubs during the second half of the 2008 MLB season. Harden summed up the situation best: “In my heart I was hoping it would work out, but in my head I had a feeling it wouldn’t. It’s very disappointing not to play for Canada, but my No. 1 priority is the Cubs. I’ve just started to throw, and it is too soon for me.”
Let’s hope Harden’s ongoing off-season regimen works as well as Kerry Wood’s program did before the 2008 MLB season. Harden needs to strengthen the muscle and tissue surrounding the tear in the shoulder in order to be effective in 2009. If he half-asses it or doesn’t build it up enough before he starts throwing, we could be dealing with this shoulder issue all season long. Hopefully Harden and the Cubs trainers have a good game plan in place. Especially with the departure of Jason Marquis (who may not have been the most effective pitcher, but gave you innings each and every year), it will be very frustrating to have to deal with finding 2 consistent starters for the 4th and 5th spots in the rotation during the course of the 2009 MLB campaign. We’ll keep you posted with any update here at MyCubsToday!
Posted on 22 January 2009 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs announced a few non-roster invitees to Spring Training 2009 in Arizona.
Japanese right-handed veteran pitcher Ken Kadokura. He is a 13-year veteran of the Nippon Professional Baseball League in Japan. He has 76 career wins and a 4.36 career ERA in 302 games. He has played for 4 different Japanese teams.
Mike Stanton – a left-handed reliever who is 41 years old and has not pitched since 2007 when he made 69 relief appearances for the Cincinnati Reds.
So Taguchi – see previous blog post here.
Chad Fox – 38-year old reliever who has been hampered with elbow issues the last few seasons. Fox appeared in 3 games for the Cubs during the 2008 MLB season – his first MLB action since 2005 – until recurring injuries forced him to miss the rest of the season.
Posted on 21 January 2009 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs and reliever Michael Wuertz agreed upon a 1-year, $1.1 million deal for the 2009 MLB season. Wuertz was the last arbitration-eligible player that the Cubs needed to sign before today’s deadline. By finalizing the deal, Cubs GM Jim Hendry kept his streak alive as he has not had to submit numbers to an actual arbitration panel during his tenure as Cubs GM.
Wuertz made 45 appearances for the Cubs during the 2008 MLB season. He was 1-1 with a 3.63 ERA. He also spent some time with the Cubs Triple-A affiliate in Iowa. In 2007, Wuertz made the 2nd most appearances for the Cubs with 73. He was a reliable member of the bullpen that season – going 2-3 with a 3.48 ERA. Wuertz should make the Cubs roster in 2009, but there will be some competition with recent signees like Luis Vizcaino, Garrett Olson and Dave Stevens.
Posted on 20 January 2009 by Lou
Well – we can’t say this is a surprise at all. When the Cubs dealt Sean Gallagher, Matt Murton and 2 others to acquire oft-injured starter Rich Harden and reliever Chad Gaudin from the Oakland A’s during the middle of the 2008 MLB campaign, we also knew there was a risk that Harden could end up on the shelf for an extended period of time during his tenure as a Cub. Unfortunately, it looks like that day has come sooner than we expected. The Cubs have announced that Harden does have a slight tear in his right shoulder. The tear is kind of in that gray area – it could be repaired with surgery, but it could also be treated successfully with therapy, a strengthening program and a well-manged workout schedule. Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild added that Harden is not close to throwing off of a mound yet, and that there is some issue with his right shoulder that needs to be addressed. Harden has been going through a rigorous off-season program aimed at strengthening the arm, but he is still experiencing some soreness there.
Harden made 25 starts for the A’s and Cubs in 2008. Harden was 5-1 with each team, and he performed exceptionally well for the Cubs in his 12 starts. He pitched 71 innings and had an impressive 89 strikeouts during that stretch. He had a 1.77 ERA and 0.97 ERA for the Cubs.
With the trade of Jason Marquis a few weeks ago, and now the injury issue with Harden, it doesn’t look good for the Cubs starting rotation. The Cubs are set with Carlos Zambrano (who had some injury issues of his own a few times during the course of the 2008 MLB season), Ryan Dempster, and Ted Lilly. Sean Marshall was expected to win the 5th spot in the rotation, but now he could be forced into the 4th spot and the Cubs would need to have another competition for the 5th slot. Chad Gaudin, Angel Guzman and newly acquired Garrett Olson could all step up, but we’d rather have Harden pitch every 5th day instead of one of those guys.
We’ll keep you posted here at MyCubsToday, but for now, it doesn’t sound too promising.
Posted on 20 January 2009 by Lou
Chicago Cubs GM Jim Hendry did it again – he avoided arbitration with a player and now only has to come to terms with reliever Michael Wuertz before Tuesday’s deadline in order to keep his 7-year streak alive and kicking.
The Cubs and Kevin Gregg agreed on a 1-year $4.2 million deal over the weekend. The Cubs acquired Gregg in a trade this off-season. Gregg is 30 years old, and battled some injuries during the 2008 MLB season after a hot start. Gregg saved 29 games for the Marlins in 2008. He pitched in 72 games and amassed a 3.41 ERA. Gregg is expected to compete for the Cubs closer position with Carlos Marmol, but most believe he will serve as Marmol’s set-up man once the season begins.
Gregg did have knee surgery right after the 2008 MLB season ended, but has resumed normal throwing workouts already. He has reported no further knee issues this off-season and is expected to be ready to go right at the start of Spring Training.
Posted on 19 January 2009 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs and outfielder Felix Pie finally parted ways over the weekend. The Cubs have always had high hopes for Pie, and they even had him slated in as the everyday center fielder to start the 2008 campaign. It became clear early on, however, that Pie would not be able to hit big league pitching on a regular, consistent basis. Pie played in only 43 games during the 2008 MLB season, hitting .241 with a .312 on-base percentage in 83 at-bats. He struck out 29 times and walked only 7 times, a very poor percentage given his best talent is his blazing speed. Pie will turn 24 in February, but the Cubs still felt it was time to make the move to deal him for 2 promising pitchers.
Garrett Olson is a 25-year left-handed pitcher from Fresno, California. Olson started 26 games for the Orioles during the 2008 campaign. He went 9-10 with a high 6.65 ERA and 1.73 WHIP. Control tended to be an issue for Olson – he walked 62 batters in only 132 2/3 innings. He also gave up a whopping 17 home runs and 98 earned runs. But Olson did rank fairly high among American League rookies in terms of starts, wins, innings pitched and strikeouts. Olson could fit into the mix as the 5th starter for the Cubs during the 2009 MLB season.
The Cubs also landed Henry Williamson in the deal. Williamson is a right-handed pitcher who will likely start the 2009 season in the Cubs farm system.
Posted on 18 January 2009 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs have signed outfielder So Taguchi to a minor league, non-roster contract. Taguchi played for the World Champion Philadelphia Phillies last year, primarily in a defensive, reserve role. Taguchi played 88 games, but only had a .220 batting average with 91 at-bats. As a pinch-hitter, Taguchi only had 3 hits in 33 chances. He is a career .279 hitter.
If Taguchi makes the Cubs major league roster following Spring Training, he will earn $900,000 for the 2009 MLB season. Taguchi knows the Cubs well – he played 6 MLB seasons for the rival St. Louis Cardinals and had a .266 career average at Wrigley Field.
Posted on 17 January 2009 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs and infielder Ronny Cedeno agreed to a 1-year, $822,00 contract that will keep Cedeno on the North Side during the 2009 MLB season. The deal allowed the 2 sides to avoid an arbitration hearing next week.
Cedeno played in 99 games for the Cubs during the 2008 MLB season. Cedeno hit .269 in 216 at-bats with a .328 on-base percentage. Cedeno will continue to see most of his action at the middle infield positions, but he also played games at 3rd base and in left field and right field for the Cubs during the 2008 MLB season. His versatility is a big asset for the Cubs.
Cubs GM Jim Hendry is also trying to work out deals between 2 other arbitration-eligible players – Kevin Gregg and Michael Wuertz – before the Tuesday January 20th deadline. We’ll keep you posted if anything develops over the next few days. During Hendry’s entire tenure as Cubs GM since 2002, he has never had to exchange offers in an arbitration hearing.