Peripheral Moves on the Horizon for the Cubs

Official releases should be flying out of the offices at 1060 West Addison on Wednesday. Not only are the Cubs expected to announce deals with Xavier Nady and Chad Tracy, there is a press conference scheduled for 11:30am CST on Wednesday morning in Arizona. At that time, the Cubs are expected to make the official announcement that Mesa is their first choice to build their new Spring Training complex … dubbed Wrigleyville West.

The Cubs announced their Spring Training broadcast schedule on Tuesday. Pat Hughes and Ron Santo will call the first game of the Cactus League schedule against the A’s on March 4 … if you listen close enough you can almost hear those seven magical words. The Cubs first televised game will be on Saturday, March 6 against the White Sox at HoHoKam Park. WGN TV will broadcast the game.

Larry Rothschild spent a little time on XM Radio Tuesday. Rothschild passed on good news about Ted Lilly. Rothschild said Lilly is ahead of the curve right now.

Here is the latest from the mill, more from Rothschild on XM Radio and a few notes as baseball’s off-season begins to wind down …

Xavier Nady

Xavier Nady is expected in Chicago to take his physical on Wednesday (Thursday at the latest) and once he passes it, the Cubs will announce the one-year deal.

It is not a given that Nady will pass his physical.

Xavier Nady agreed to terms on a one-year deal Tuesday worth $3.3 million that includes incentives based on games played ($2.2 million) that could make the deal worth $5.35 million.

Xavier Nady will begin the season as the platoon partner for Kosuke Fukudome. The Cubs also plan on using him in left field and as a backup to Derrek Lee.

Xavier Nady’s Page on Baseball Reference.com

Chad Tracy

Chad Tracy signed a minor league deal with the Cubs on Tuesday. The former Arizona Diamondback will earn $900,000 in 2010 if he makes the big league club. The deal includes a $525,000 bonus if he reaches 450 plate appearances and a $100,000 bonus if named Comeback Player of the Year.

Tracy is expected to compete for a spot on the Cubs bench with Micah Hoffpauir.

Chad Tracy’s Page on Baseball Reference.com

Chatting with Bruce Levine

The always-informative Bruce Levine held his weekly chat on ESPN Chicago.com Tuesday afternoon. Here are the highlights:

  • Kosuke Fukudome should remain the Cubs starting right fielder, unless they find another bat that can hit at the top of the lineup.
  • Prior upper management was the ones who instructed Jim Hendry to spend money on big-ticket free agents. John McDonough, Crane Kenney and Sam Zell told Hendry to spend a lot of money and try to win so Zell could sell the team at the highest price possible. “Anybody who tells you different is flat out wrong.”
  • Levine would put his money on Ryan Theriot being the Cubs’ starting second baseman on Opening Day.
  • Starlin Castro has a good shot of making the team out of Spring Training.
  • If the Cubs struggle to score runs early in the year and if Xavier Nady is healthy, Levine thinks Piniella will put Nady in the starting lineup.
  • With Nady out of the way, Jim Hendry will turn his attention to “solidifying the bullpen.”
  • The Cubs are interested in Luke Gregerson and Jason Frasor. Levine thinks the Gregerson deal is more realistic.
  • Levine has not heard Kiko Calero’s name for a while. The Cubs are concerned about his injury history and do not have the money after signing Nady.
  • The Cubs had some interest in Jon Garland.
  • Levine is concerned Carlos Silva will be able to throw when he reports to Spring Training. Levine said, “Anything he does for the Cubs will be a plus.” Levine pointed out being around Carlos Zambrano might help Silva.
  • The signing of Xavier Nady could impact Sam Fuld making the opening day roster. (Dave Kaplan said the Cubs like Fuld as their fifth outfielder on Tuesday night).
  • The signing of Xavier Nady could impact Mike Fontenot and Micah Hoffpauir the most. Levine acknowledged Fontenot is penciled in as the Cubs starting second baseman but pointed out he has a lot to prove this spring to Lou Piniella.
  • Micah Hoffpauir could be on the bubble of making the team … because Nady can play first base.
  • Luke Gregerson or Jason Frasor might be better late-inning options than Jeff Gray or Esmailin Caridad.
  • The Cubs have no money for Chan Ho Park. Park’s agent is looking for $3.5 to $4 million.
  • The Padres have “long expressed interest” in Angel Guzman.
  • Levine pointed out that Guzman has “Ben Sheets Disease”. Guzman has a propensity to be on the DL more than the Cubs’ front office would like. Guzman, like Sheets, has the stuff when healthy.
  • If Angel Guzman remains with the Cubs, he will be in the mix for the late-inning setup job.
  • Josh Vitters is “at least another year away, maybe more.” Levine mentioned Vitters is projected as a first baseman more than a third baseman at the Major League level.
  • The Ricketts family loves Derrek Lee and “there’s a possibility of him (Lee) signing an extension during the season.”

Larry Rothschild on XM Radio

The Cubs’ pitching coach joined Jody McDonald and Jeff Nelson during The Show (XM Radio) on Tuesday.

Rothschild told the guys that Ted Lilly has already played catch three to four times … and is ahead of the curve right now. The Cubs are not going to rush Lilly back but Lilly could return on time (end of April), if not a little earlier.

The Cubs are looking for a big year out of Carlos Zambrano. Rothschild said the key for Zambrano is to stay focused during the season. Rothschild pointed out that Zambrano had a look in his eyes during the convention he had not seen in a while.

Larry Rothschild thinks Carlos Marmol will be a good closer. In his new role, Marmol will actually receive more rest throughout the course of the season … closers do not get up and down several times to warm-up. Rothschild feels even if Marmol was to pitch in 79 games his arm would not receive the amount of work it has in the past.

Marmol was 11-for-11 in save situations after being named the closer. Rothschild acknowledged Marmol was probably dealing with a tired arm last season. Marmol pitched in winter ball then in the WBC … all of those innings just took a toll.

Like Zambrano, Carlos Marmol must learn how to control his emotions.

Xavier Nady is coming off his second Tommy John surgery. Rothschild mentioned how hard it is to comeback from two surgeries. He said Nady must be careful early on since he will be only five months removed from his last surgery. The Cubs are planning on platooning him with Kosuke Fukudome.

Nady will need every bit of Spring Training to get ready for the season.

John Grabow will pitch in the seventh and eighth innings … and could close games from time to time. Tom Gorzelanny is in the mix for one of the last two spots in the rotation (along with Sean Marshall, Jeff Samardzija and a couple of other pitchers). Gorzelanny understands that it is up to him the role he ends up having with the Cubs.

The Cubs are going to give Tom Gorzelanny every chance to make the rotation. They feel his stuff is good enough … he must concentrate and remain focused.

Spring Training Broadcast Schedule

Nine Cubs games from the Cactus League will be televised … three by Comcast SportsNet and six by WGN-TV. WGN Radio will broadcast 11 of the Cubs’ 35 exhibition games.

Click Here for the Entire Broadcast Schedule

News and Notes

  • Ben Sheets inked a one-year, $10 million contract with the Oakland A’s on Tuesday. The deal includes an additional $2 million in incentives.
  • Rich Hill signed a minor league contract with the Cardinals that included an invitation to Spring Training.
  • Bruce Miles reported, “Cubs people are discounting reports of heavy interest in right-handed reliever Chan Ho Park.” The Cubs are focused on adding a reliever not a starter.

Well, that’s the latest … and I am sticking to it!

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Quote of the Day

"Now there's three things you can do in a baseball game: You can win or you can lose or it can rain." - Casey StengelĀ 

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