Ch-Ch Changes in Piniella’s Philosophy

After spending the winter doing a little more than just tinkering the roster, Jim Hendry and Lou Piniella continued to discuss changes to the team, but not as much in terms of personnel on the first day of Camp Lou III.

The accountability the Cubs’ skipper took on Friday for the end of last season continued to be discussed on Saturday morning. For the first time Lou Piniella admitted it is his job to change the ways he motivates and manages his players. On Friday Piniella discussed his record as a Cubs’ manager in the post-season but pointed out the culture change that has taken place in and around the Cubs.

Piniella said, “In this business, you keep learning. My disposition is last year we had a darn good baseball team. We just need to figure out how to stay longer. I’m going to do things a little differently than I did last year as far as getting ourselves more prepared. The manager has a responsibility. I’m from the school if something doesn’t work, I tend to blame myself and rightfully so.

Bruce Levine reported on Saturday morning that Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez will not play in the upcoming World Baseball ClassicCarlos Marmol, Geovany Soto and Kosuke Fukudome will participate in the tournament. Here’s the rest from Mesa including Jim Hendry on Talkin’ Baseball….

Notes from Talkin’ Baseball

Bruce Levine joined Jonathan Hood on Saturday morning from Mesa. The Story Breaker spent a majority of the two hours discussing the Chicago Cubs.

Levine was very impressed with the capability that Lou Piniella has taken. He talked about the motivational books Piniella spent the off-season reading. Levine said that Piniella is really trying to change at the age of 66. Levine went on to describe Piniella as an open-minded guy that is willing to try different things.

The Cubs are planning on giving the veterans more rest. The team was worn out in September according to Levine. In September the Cubs posted their lowest team batting average, highest team ERA (4.48), fewest home runs and lowest RBI total of any other month.

Derrek Lee will receive more time off this season. The Cubs need more than the five home runs he hit in the second half.

Carlos Zambrano’s eye was discussed briefly. Levine does not think it is serious. He added Zambrano appears to be in good shape. He is hoping Zambrano can take the right steps to once again become the team’s ace. Levine said Zambrano’s eye issue is another problem in a long list of issues…

Jim Hendry on Talkin’ Baseball

The Cubs GM joined Bruce Levine and Jonathan Hood during the second hour. Levine discussed the Cubs different philosophy with Jim Hendry . Hendry thinks a manager should look at it the way Lou Piniella has. Hendry explained that after the way last season ended they had to make tough decisions….but had to look at themselves as well.

Hendry discussed Piniella’s desire to take the team further than they have the past two seasons but reminded Levine that the Cubs are taking nothing for granted. Hendry does not buy into the concept to build a team for the regular season and another one for October.

The Cubs needed another left-handed bat in the middle of the lineup, especially after the second half performance of Kosuke Fukudome. Hendry admitted they were probably going to look for another left-handed bat with a little more pop anyway.

Hendry reiterated the tough decision he had to make when he traded Mark DeRosa.

The Cubs are okay with Carlos Marmol pitching in the WBC. Marmol is only a one-inning guy according to Hendry and Larry Rothschild signed off on him pitching in the tournament. The Cubs would like Kosuke Fukudome to be in camp but they understand his desire to play for his country. Hendry said he thrived in the tournament in 2006 and they will have scouts there monitoring him.

Other players will get extended looks because of the WBC and the long spring. Hendry brought up the trips to Las Vegas and New York….the Cubs play a lot of exhibition games.

Mike Fontenot and Aaron Miles were briefly discussed. Hendry said Fontenot can play third, short in a pinch and is average to above average defensively at second base. Hendry was extremely complimentary of Aaron Miles. Hendry called him a ‘gamer‘ and a ‘late inning player.‘ Miles performs well in clutch situations and in day games.

Mark O’Neal, the Cubs trainer, signed off Milton Bradley. Hendry revealed that Bradley is on a mission to stay healthy and play more than 120-125 games this season.

The segment closed with discussion on the competition for the fifth spot in the rotation. Hendry mentioned Aaron Heilman, Sean Marshall and Chad Gaudin will battle it out but said, “Do not count out Mr. Samardzija.

Quick Tidbits

  • When asked for the over/under on Carlos Zambrano’s win total for 2009 at 16 victories, Levine said under
  • Kosuke Fukudome will rejoin the Cubs somewhere around March 15th
  • The Cubs had Fukudome work in the off-season in building his core
  • The Cubs have sold more than 140,000 tickets already for their 17 games at HoHoKam Park
  • The 39 Spring Training games is the most ever…the reason, the WBC. The 39 games is nearly a fourth of MLB’s regular season.
  • Twelve of the thirteen pitchers that participated in the WBC in 2006 had a higher ERA in the regular season than they did in 2005.
  • Jim Hendry feels great about the depth in the bullpen.

And finally….maybe the Cubs Marketing Department should look into incorporating the David Bowie classic into ad campaigns for the upcoming season.

Turn and face the strange
Don’t want to be a richer man
Turn and face the strange
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time

Strange fascination, fascinating me
Ah changes are taking the pace I’m going through

Video from Day One – WGN TV

Quote of the Day

"Build up your weaknesses until they become your strong points." – Knute Rockne