Weekend Update … Spring Has Sprung for the Cubs

Day Four of Camp Lou IV ended early due to rain. Pitchers got their work in before the rain cut the workouts short on Saturday. Rain is expected in the Phoenix area for the next few days but it is expected to be in the mid 60s and sunny on Tuesday for the first full squad workout.

Kosuke Fukudome and Ryan Theriot reported to camp on Saturday. Ryan Theriot said there were no hard feelings between him and the club over losing his arbitration case. There are only four position players that have not reported to Fitch Park … Derrek Lee, Alfonso Soriano, Aramis Ramirez and Starlin Castro. Monday is the official reporting date for position players.

The Cubs are still looking for bullpen help according to Jim Hendry. The Cubs GM spent a little time on Saturday morning with Bruce Levine and Jonathan Hood during Talkin’ Baseball (ESPN 1000).

Here are the updates from day four, more from Jim Hendry on Talkin’ Baseball as well as an update on the Cubs’ interest in Chan Ho Park

Notes from Mesa

Jim Hendry on Talkin’ Baseball

Jim Hendry began his interview on ESPN 1000 by taking a shot at Bruce Levine. Levine celebrated a birthday on Saturday and Hendry poked a little fun mentioning Levine’s age could be similar to Andy Rooney’s.

Hendry is glad the arbitration case with Ryan Theriot is over. He said it was unfortunate they had to go to arbitration with Theriot. Hendry indicated the process will not end up being an issue for Theriot … they’ve known Theriot for a long time.

The Cubs did not play well for long stretches last year and still won 83 games. Four to five players had bad years and they dealt with a lot of injuries. Hendry thinks a big key to the season is for those players to rebound from a year ago.

“If we just get our own guys back to what they’re used to doing, that being said, that’s four or five guys, I mean, good players, all kind of had mediocre to bad years all at the same time. We’ve heard Lou say that does turn into 10 or 12 more wins no matter what, and that’s what you need to do.”

The Cubs have enough pitching and will be able to compete this season.

Bruce Levine asked about the Cubs being able to use the $800,000 they saved on Theriot’s salary arbitration toward adding an arm to the bullpen.

Jim Hendry said they are keeping an eye on the pen … and they could add an arm with a trade or a free agent signing. Hendry pointed out there is not much quality left on the free agent market.

Hendry explained they are open to adding an arm to the pen before Opening Day. He explained that trading for a reliever might have to wait until Spring Training games begin in a couple of weeks.

Jim Hendry added they have been discussing deals for a possible trade.

Aramis Ramirez is a big key to the Cubs’ success in 2010. Hendry pointed out how big a fan of Ramirez he is and how much the team suffered when he was out of the lineup last year. Hendry discussed the depth they’ve added this winter with Chad Tracy and the fact that Jeff Baker can backup Aramis, but regardless of the improved depth, no one can replace Aramis Ramirez’s production.

While discussing the Cubs options at third base, Hendry added that Jeff Baker would get a chance this spring to earn more playing time at second base.

Jim Hendry discussed the MRI Ted Lilly had on his right knee. Hendry said Lilly has just a little irritation in the knee, nothing out of the normal that needed to be taken care of like his left knee a year ago.

Levine asked Hendry about the addition of Marlon Byrd … and what he can provide the team. Hendry explained he made progress, offensively, the last three years in Texas with Rudy Jaramillo.

Jaramillo pushed hard for the Cubs to sign Byrd. Jaramillo told the Cubs, after he was hired, that Byrd “might have been the best guy in clubhouse and the best team guy” in Texas last year. Hendry also pointed out how Byrd’s defense in center is very underrated.

Carlos Silva showed up to camp over weight and out of shape. Hendry said he has a lot of work to do to get into shape. Hendry added, “He is carrying himself around the clubhouse rather well … no pun intended.”

Hendry said Silva needs to lose 10 to 12 pounds by Opening Day … he needs to trim down a bit but Hendry has been told that he is throwing the ball well. Hendry pointed out that Silva has a big frame and he is not in any worse shape than he was when they traded for him over the winter.

Chan Ho Park and the Bullpen

The Cubs are still looking for bullpen help according to Bruce Levine … and Jim Hendry. The Cubs were hampered by the injuries to Angel Guzman and Jeff Gray. Both pitchers are expected to be in the mix for a late inning role.

Esmailin Caridad, Justin Berg and David Patton will have an opportunity to earn a spot as well. The Cubs were impressed by the way Caridad pitched after he was called up last year.

Levine said the Cubs could trade for a reliever or sign a free agent.

The Cubs are still interested in Chan Ho Park. Scott Boras is seeking $3 to $4 million for Park. Levine thinks Boras’ asking price will drop.

(Correction: Chan Ho Park is not represented by Scott Boras as reported by Bruce Levine. Chan Ho Park’s agent is Jeff Borris of the Beverly Hill Sports Council)

Tidbits from Bruce Levine

  • Bruce Levine spoke with several veterans about Kevin Millar. A lot of them are hoping Millar will make the team as the 25th man.
  • Geovany Soto has impressed in the first three days of camp. The concern is that Soto might have lost too much weight and might wear down as the season progresses into August and September.
  • Alfonso Soriano is the key to the Cubs’ lineup according to Levine. Hitting sixth, Soriano will have more opportunities to drive in runs and could put up a 30-100 season (home runs and RBI).
  • Levine spoke with Rudy Jaramillo about Soriano. Jaramillo thinks Soriano’s bat speed is still there but the problem has been a “mechanism in his swing.”
  • Angel Guzman told Bruce Levine he expects to be ready to compete when Spring Training games begin on March 4.
  • A few scouts told Levine that Jeff Gray reminds them of a young Bobby Howry
  • Carlos Silva came in out of shape. Silva was throwing next to Carlos Zambrano during drills on Thursday. Levine said many noticed that Silva next to Zambrano looked like a before and after picture … in other words, what Zambrano looked like last year compared to the way he came into camp this year.
  • Bruce Levine described Carlos Silva as “real chunky” and said physically Silva is not up to the task right now. Levine added it is a “bad looking start for him (Silva) in a Cubs’ uniform.”
  • According to Bruce Levine, Jason Frasor and Luke Gregerson remain possibilities for the Cubs.

Well, there’s the update … and I am sticking to it!

CCO Radio reports to Spring Training on February 23 with the first show of the new season.

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Quote of the Day

"The man says 'play ball' not 'work ball,' you know." - Willie Stargell
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