Pitching Coaches, Roster Moves … and Cubs Rumors

Friday was a busy day for the Chicago National League Ball Club. In a move that caught everyone by surprise, Larry Rothschild stepped down as the Cubs pitching coach after nine seasons, three managers and two interim managers. Rothschild took the same position with the New York Yankees and signed a three-year contract worth nearly $2 million.

Rumors quickly spread that Greg Maddux could replace one of his former pitching coaches but the Cubs quickly squashed that rumor. According to a report from Bruce Levine, the Cubs will fill the position from within the organization … and according to the Tribune, the Cubs will have a new pitching coach in place before the Winter Meetings begin on December 5.

Mark Riggins, Lester Strode, Mark Mason and Dennis Lewallyn are the top candidates according to Levine, with Riggins being the early favorite to replace Rothschild.

The Cubs also added four players to their big league roster. With the additions of Chris Archer, Brandon Guyer, Kyle Smit and Alberto Cabrera, the Cubs have one open spot on the 40-man roster.

Here’s the rest from late in the week, including minor league comings and goings that included non-roster invitations to Spring Training, Chris Davis and the rumor mill. Plus, are the Cubs working on multi-year contract with Carlos Marmol?

Larry Rothschild and the Next Cubs Pitching Coach
Larry Rothschild received a three-year contract to be the pitching coach for the New York Yankees … with a nice raise attached. Rothschild was scheduled to earn $500,000 with the Cubs in 2011 and will make $650,000 with the Yankees … Rothschild will earn close to $2 million over the next three seasons.

According to a report from Bruce Levine, Mark Riggins “may have a slight edge” over Lester Strode (Cubs bullpen coach), Mike Mason (Iowa Cubs Pitching Coach) and Dennis Lewallyn (Tennessee Smokies Pitching Coach). Riggins is currently the Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator and his highly thought of throughout the industry.

Minor League Comings … and Goings
The Cubs announced on Thursday that they re-signed Bobby Scales to a minor league contract, along with left-handed pitcher Scott Rice.

Scales and Rice, along with Angel Guzman, Jim Adduci and Scott Moore, received non-roster invitations to big league camp.

Scott Rice was the first round pick of the Orioles in the 1999 draft. Rice posted a 2-1 record in 58 games, all in relief, with a 2.86 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP in 58 games between Double-A and Triple-A last season.

The 29-year old southpaw pitched in the Rockies organization last season. After leaving the Orioles organization following the 2006 season, Rice pitched for in the Rangers system in 2007, in independent ball in 2008 and 2009 before signing on with the Padres in 2009. Rice has no Major League experience. (Click here for Scott Rice’s page on Baseball-Reference).

Catcher Mark Johnson was granted free agency and is no longer in the Cubs’ system.

Micah Hoffpauir
Micah Hoffpauir was cleared unconditional release waivers on Friday and the rights to his contract were sold to the Nippon Ham Fighters.

The Cubs no longer have a first baseman on their 40-man roster.

After speaking with the Cubs, Hoffpauir “didn’t get the sense he was their guy” despite the fact there are no other first basemen on the big league roster. Hoffpauir felt it was better for him and his family to sign on with a team in Japan.

“I didn’t know what the Cubs were going to do. Obviously, I thought they’d sign somebody and I’d be stuck in the same situation I was in the past. That’s not what we wanted. We wanted some sort of stability and that’s one of the main reasons we decided to do it.”

Chris Davis
Speaking of first basemen, the Cubs could be talking trade with the Texas Rangers.

The Cubs have an extra catcher and the Rangers have an extra left-handed first baseman … could the two sides make a deal?

According to a report from Bruce Levine, “the Cubs and Rangers were scheduled to get together to talk about possible matchups. Texas has a need for catching and the Cubs have two solid young catchers in Welington Castillo and Robinson Chirinos.”

Davis, who turns 25 in March, has put up solid numbers in the minors and could be a good addition to a organization that has no depth in the system at first base.

Chris Davis’ Page on Baseball-Reference

Carlos Marmol
The Cubs met with Barry Praver, the agent for Carlos Zambrano, Carlos Silva and Carlos Marmol, at the GM Meetings. Marmol is up for a huge raise this winter in his second year of arbitration eligibility. Marmol earned $2.1 million last year and could receive between $4 and $5 million this off-season.

According to Bruce Levine, “at some point the Cubs will want to talk to Praver about a long-term deal for Marmol, who will be eligible to become a free agent after 2012.”

According to the Sun-Times, Marmol could receive a multiyear deal this winter.

Carlos Zambrano
The Sun-Times asked the question

“The bigger question with the move might be how it affects Carlos Zambrano’s status and relationship with the team.

The $91.5 million pitcher, who followed a monthlong anger-management exile with an 8-0 finish this past season (1.56 ERA), was the subject of interest from the Yankees last winter. His strong relationship with Rothschild raises at least the possibility of another conversation or two this winter — if only as part of a fallback plan if the Yankees’ efforts to land Cliff Lee fail.

Zambrano’s agent said Wednesday that Zambrano hasn’t asked for a trade and that the Cubs hadn’t asked him to waive his no-trade clause, but the fallout of Rothschild’s departure could shift some of the thinking on either side.

”I don’t even think I can comment on that because he is property of the Cubs, and that’s out of my domain now,” said Rothschild, who nonetheless praised Zambrano’s ability late last season to adjust to pitching without the velocity he has had in the past. ”I think he has a chance to be a very good pitcher [having made that adjustment].”

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Well, there’s the news and rumors … and I’m sticking to them.

Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax