Posted on 24 February 2011 by Lou
Manager Mike Quade is sure that Aramis Ramirez will bat 4th in the Cubs lineup each and every day. The rest of the lineup is not so clear. “I see him as such a good RBI guy that it makes sense in the four-hole. He’s a guy who, as much as mizing and matching that I do, he doesn’t figure to be one of the guys I’ll mix and match with. Some guys don’t care [where they are in the lineup], and I know he does. He seems like the four-hole to me because I want him driving in runs. But I’m a grownup and I reserve the right to change my mind.”
Quade has indicated that Starlin Castro will likely hit in the 2-spot. Quade has hinted that Castro could some day be a lead-off hitter, but he doesn’t want to put too much pressure on the youngster, especially in his 2nd year which can often lead to a “sophomore slump.” Quade likes Kosuke Fukudome in the lead-off spot for some reason. He likes the fact that Fukudome makes pitchers throw a lot of pitches, but I think he is just way too inconsistent. He may have a good few weeks or so, but then he has the capability of disappearing for weeks at a time.
It should be interesting as spring progresses. Let’s hope someone emerges to claim that 3rd spot in the lineup. Marlon Byrd seems like the best fit because Carlos Pena and Alfonso Soriano strike out way too much there. But if a guy like Blake DeWitt emerges with a good spring, could we see Quade got with Fukudome, DeWitt and Castro in the top 3 spots? We’ll keep you posted as soon as we hear anything concrete out of Mesa…
Posted on 23 February 2011 by Lou
Maybe this is a good sign. As we reported the other day, Carlos Zambrano really is OK with Manager Mike Quade naming Ryan Dempster his opening day starter, breaking a 6-year streak held by Big Z. Quade brought Dempster, Zambrano and newly acquired Matt Garza into his office to share the news and to explain his rationale for setting up the rotation the way he did for his 3 “aces”. It was a sign of respect from Quade that he considers all 3 starters to be top-of-the-line starters in his re-vamped rotation. Zambrano was disappointed with the decision, but he appears to have taken it in stride: “Nothing lasts forever. I wanted to be the Opening Days starter for all my years with the Cubs, but they chose Dempster for Opening Day. And it’s OK with me… He’s been pitching better than I have the past two years. He deserves it.”
WOW – could we really be seeing the new Carlos Zambrano. If he truly has his head on straight – and like I said before, I won’t believe it until he lasts a WHOLE season without incident – he could be primed and ready for a big 2011. If he can regain the form that made him one of the best starters in the National League, the Cubs could end up surprising some teams with nice trio of Demspter, Big Z and Garza. Let’s hope this trend continues…
Posted on 21 February 2011 by Lou
WOW — guess we’ll find out very quickly whether or not Carlos Zambrano has truly put his “anger issues” behind him. Manager Mike Quade has named Ryan Dempster his opening day starter on Friday April 1st against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Zambrano – who had made 6 consecutive opening day starts for the Cubs – will be the No. 2 starter on Saturday and Matt Garza will be the 3rd starter on Sunday to close out the series against the Pirates. Dempster was honored to be named the opening day starter, especially since it would take place at home at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field in front of the home crowd – “It’s going to be exciting. It’s going to be more nerves of anxiousness than nerves of being nervous… He [Zambrano] said he was happy for me, and that I deserved it. That’s somebody that I look up to, someone who goes out and competes as hard as anybody I’ve been around. So it meant a lot to hear something like that from him.”
Quade said he was looking ahead when he decided to go with Zambrano #2. The Cubs open the road part of the schedule on Friday April 8th in Milwaukee. By pitching Zambrano on Saturday or Sunday in the opening home series, that lines up Zambrano to make a start against the Brewers at Miller Park. Zambrano has had a TON of success pitching in Milwaukee, even throwing a no-hitter there against the Houston Astros back in 2009.
Interesting move by Quade. This guy definitely is out to show that he is running the team and that he is going to make his own decisions. It would have been easy to tab Big Z with the opening day start, especially the way that he closed out his 2010 season by going 8-0 in his final 11 starts. But Zambrano has to show he is out to perform at a high level again in 2011. It’s very similar to when Quade sent stud shortstop Starlin Castro a message late last season when Quade felt like Castro wasn’t giving his all and keeping his head in the game at all times. Quade benched Castro for 2 games and made it clear that everyone is responsible and accountable on the field, even superstars. Quade seems to have the respect and confidence of his players and staff, so it will be interesting to see how the team responds right from the get-go during the 2011 MLB schedule…
Posted on 19 February 2011 by Lou
It’s finally here — the first full squad workout for the 2011 Chicago Cubs major league baseball team. Sure, some of the guys won’t be on the opening day roster come April 1st, but there is still a lot of excitement and buzz this spring as some old and new faces re-unite in Mesa for Spring Training.
Manager Mike Quade is excited to get his full first season as skipper started off on a positive note. Quade has indicated that he will “lay down a little bit of the direction I’d like to see us going, some things I’d like to do, both philosophically and technically.”
It is an interesting time for Cubs fans. There are a lot of question marks on the team. Who will round out the starting rotation after Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza? Who will win the 2nd base job or will it be more of a platoon? Who will bat lead-off? How will Quade work Tyler Colvin and Kosuke Fukudome into the lineup consistently? And who will wind up in the bullpen after Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, Kerry Wood and John Grabow? Hopefully a lot of these questions will be answered over the next 6 weeks of spring play for the Cubs. We’ll keep you posted as soon as anything big breaks on the wire…
Posted on 18 February 2011 by Lou
Blake DeWitt is the clear favorite to win the 2nd base job coming out of spring training 2011. The bigger question is whether DeWitt will show enough to warrant consideration for the lead-off spot as well. In 53 games for the Cubs after a mid-season trade in 2010, DeWitt hit .250 with a .314 on-base percentage. His career numbers are a little bit better – .259 and .335. DeWitt re-worked his swing this winter, working with Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo on his heralded hitting system. The system involves a 5-point program that focuses on 5 elements of body positioning and thinking about how you apprach each at-bat. DeWitt is getting the hang of it and is excited for live game action – “His system is something I enjoy. I’ve been able to implement that, and it’s really not that complicated if you stick with it.” DeWitt is only 25 years old so he still has a lot of upside potential.
While DeWitt could hit lead-off, he will likely hit down in the order – 7 or 8. He may also spend time on the bench against left-handed pitchers according to Manager Mike Quade. Quade likes to play the match-ups and Jeff Baker is a solid platoon option. Baker hit .350 against lefties in 2010 and had good overall numbers in 79 games – .272 batting average and .326 on-base percentage. While we might see Baker or DeWitt at the top of the order from time to time, Quade has hinted that he will likely go with right fielder Kosuke Fukudome to lead-off against righties. With a lefty on the bump, Quade hasn’t tipped his hand yet, but we could see Starlin Castro, Alfonso Soriano or Baker there depending on the pitcher.
Players reported to Cubs camp today, so we’ll keep you posted as things progress…
DeWitt will likely spend
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…
Posted on 08 January 2011 by Lou
The annual Cubs Convention is right around the corner – next weekend January 14-16 at the Hilton Chicago on Michigan Avenue. Festivities starts at 5PM on Friday January 14th. The Cubs anticipate that over 50 current and former Cubs players, coaches and prospects will be present at the 3-day weekend event.
Some of the highlights include:
The Ricketts Family Forum will kick off the activities on Saturday, January 15th. The Ricketts will be there to talk about the current team and they will be available to talk about the club’s plans for the future.
General Manager Jim Hendry, Special Assistant Greg Maddux, Assistant GM Randy Bush and Manager Mike Quade will be available for comments and questions in a session called “Meet Cubs Baseball Management”.
Quade will return for another session called the “Q Factor”. Quade and his staff — Mark Riggins, Rudy Jaramillo, Lester Strode, Ivan DeJesus, Bob Dernier and Dave Keller — will discuss how they plan to tackle the 2011 MLB schedule.
And in the “Dominican Way of Life” session, Aramis Ramirez, Starlin Castro, Carlos Pena and Oneri Fleita (the Cubs player development director) will discuss their transition from life in the Dominican Republic to life in the United States. Fleita will also offer some insight into how the Cubs scout and develop international players for the major leagues.
All in all it should be another great Cubs convention weekend. Plus, with all proceeds from the convention benefiting Chicago Cubs Charities, what more can you ask for…
Posted on 07 December 2010 by Lou
The Chicago Cubs have named Mark Riggins their new pitching coach. Riggins, 53, has been the Cubs minor league pitching coordinator since 2008 and has had a lot of experience with most of the pitchers projected to make the Cubs starting roster in 2011. Previously, Riggins spent 29 years with the St. Louis Cardinals organization — as a minor league pitcher, minor league coach and manager and minor league pitching coordinator. Riggins was a major league pitching coach for only 1 season in the big leagues – during Joe Torre’s final season as Cardinals manager back in 1995.
Riggins beat out Lester Strode who has served as the Cubs bullpen coach for several seasons now. Strode will stay on as the Cubs bullpen coach under Manager Mike Quade. The Cubs found themselves with a pitching coach void when Jim Hendry left for the New York Yankees less than a month ago.
Posted on 24 November 2010 by Lou
Could Greg Maddux be the next Chicago Cubs’ pitching coach? With the departure of long-time pitching coach Larry Rothschild to the New York Yankees, the Cubs have indicated that they will promote someone from within the organization to be the team’s next pitching coach. Could that person be Greg Maddux?
While in theory it would be great to have a Ryne Sandberg Manager / Greg Maddux Pitching Coach Dynamic Duo, in reality, that is just not going to happen anytime soon. Maddux took the assistant to General Manager role because it gave him a lot of flexibility to be able to spend time with his family at this stage in his life. It is unlikely that Maddux will give that up right now to take on the difficult task of being a major league pitching coach on a daily basis.
Look for the Cubs to go with one of the following – Mark Riggins is the Cubs minor league roving coach who has a ton of experience and has pretty much worked with every single Cubs minor league pitcher for a long time. Riggins could be the front runner. The Cubs current bullpen coach Lester Strode is also a top candidate. The Cubs could also go with one of the current pitching coach’s at the minor league level – Mike Mason at Triple-A Iowa or Dennis Lewallyn at Double-A Tennessee. Look for the Cubs to make an announcement shortly after the Thanksgiving holiday next week.
Posted on 19 November 2010 by Lou
In a surprise move, Cubs pitching coach Larry Rothschild left to become the pitching coach for Joe Girardi and the New York Yankees. This is a huge surprise as Rothschild just exercised his option to remain the Cubs pitching coach through the 2011 MLB season about a month ago, and he seemed excited to be back for another year on the North Side (it would have been his 10th season as Cubs pitching coach). Now new Manager Mike Quade will be under the gun to find a new pitching coach for the Cubs in short order.
Yankees Manager Joe Girardi had this to say about luring Rothschild to New York – “Larry brings a wealth of invaluable experience to our team and to our pitching staff. He’s a championship pitching coach, and I’m excited to add larry’s abilities to our staff. He is above all else an excellent teacher, who brings a professional attitude and a keen sense of preparation to his craft. I’m very much looking forward to working with him moving forward.”
Rothschild had plenty of praise for the Cubs organization – “I’d like to thank Jim Hendry, the Ricketts family, Crane Kenney and the entire Cubs organization for their outstanding support and allowing me to pursue this opportunity with the Yankees. My reasons for pursuing and accepting the opportunity are personal and family-based, as the Yankees hold spring training in, and travel several times a year to, my hometown of Tampa. The chance to spend increased time with my family was something I wanted to explore and I am grateful for the opportunity to have done so… My nine years with the Cubs were tremendous and I’m proud of the pitching staff I leave behind. I wish Mike Quade, the Cubs and their great fans the best and look forward to returning to Wrigley Field in June.”
Crazy stuff continues to happen on the North Side. While some may see this as a negative, I am happy with the move. This staff has not done enough to bring a championship to the Cubs organization. Rothschild has had plenty of great arms under his tutelage – Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Carlos Zambrano – and he never was able to make them consistently dominant for several years at a clip. After 9 years relying upon Rothschild, I think it is a good things that the Cubs will have a new pitching coach who will give a fresh perspective on the Cubs arms on a going-forward basis. Especially with some young guys who have a lot of talent – Andrew Cashner, Jeff Samardzija, James Russell – you would hate to see Rothschild not take advantage of their full potential.