The last weekend in January and the end of the final month without Cubs’ baseball until at least October … pitchers and catchers report to Fitch Park in just 14 days.
It was a busy six days for the team on the North Side of Chicago. From the non-roster invitations to minor league signings the Cubs were in the news just about every day.
The Cubs’ Spring Training broadcast schedule should be released in the coming week but as for the announcement of Pat Hughes’ new partner, that could be a couple of weeks away. Here’s the update …
The search for Pat Hughes’ new partner appears to be down to Dave Otto and Keith Moreland. According to multiple reports from Bruce Levine earlier in the week, the decision was down to Otto, Moreland, Doug Glanville and Gary Matthews, Sr. … with Otto being the favorite.
A report from Dave Kaplan on Saturday afternoon indicated Dave Otto and Keith Moreland “appear to the two finalists, barring any late developments.”
Tom Langmyer, WGN general manager, is hoping to make the announcement sometime before Spring Training starts.
WGN Radio has not announced their broadcast schedule for the upcoming spring games, but they traditionally broadcast the first Cactus League game of the year. Kaplan reported that Hughes and “his new broadcast partner will begin with the February 27 exhibition game between the Cubs and Oakland A’s.
Updated 9:24am CT – WGN Radio released their spring broadcast schedule late Saturday. Click here for the schedule.
WGN Radio will broadcast the first two games of the Cubs Cactus League schedule and 11 total games.
Pat Hughes put the search and his thoughts on his new partner into the perfect perspective.
“I believe in teamwork and that will really play a big role in the new partner, because I want to really feel that he is a special part of our team. The concept of chemistry is not something that is automatic or immediate. It is something that has to be nurtured and cultivated and developed. Ronnie and I got along well at the start, but nowhere near as well as after we had been together for a few years and kind of learned each other.”
“I would say to the audience, if it is not too presumptuous, that … whoever it is, please give the guy a chance. He is not going to be as popular as Ron Santo right away. Who knows? In the future he might be. But he’s not going to be Ronnie. So give the guy a chance, let him grow. Let the chemistry between the new guy and me develop naturally. That’s what I would like to say to the audience.”
A New Season with Some Old Faces
Jim Hendry filled out his Spring Training roster with a few familiar names and faces last week.
After the news leaked on Tuesday that Todd Wellemeyer had agreed to a minor league contract with the Cubs that included a non-roster invite to big league camp, the Cubs announced the 21-players that will accompany their 40-man roster during Spring Training.
As of this writing, Mike Quade will have 59 players in a Cubs’ uniform on February 27 against the Oakland A’s … 21 non-roster invitees and the 38 players currently on the Cubs’ 40-man roster.
Among the 21 non-roster players that will participate in the first full squad workout on February 19 will be two fan favorites … Reed Johnson and Augie Ojeda.
The Cubs’ Spring Training roster will also feature a majority of the top prospects in the organization … Trey McNutt, Brett Jackson, Jay Jackson, Chris Carpenter and Josh Vitters. This will be the second straight spring in big league camp for Brett Jackson and Josh Vitters.
The other non-roster invitee to keep an eye on is Marquez Smith. Smith is coming off a solid year in the minors and if Aramis Ramirez goes down for any extended period this season, he will likely see his first big league action.
Angel Guzman, Scott Rice and newly signed Braden Looper will be the other pitchers in camp. Steve Clevenger and Chris Robinson will join Welington Castillo, Max Ramirez, Koyie Hill and Geovany Soto in the catching corp. As for the other position players, Matt Camp, Bryan LaHair, Scott Moore, Bobby Scales, James Adduci, Brad Snyder and Cubs’ former first round pick, Luis Montanez, will suit up for Mike Quade.
Down on the Farm
The Cubs minor league system was in the news once again. Brett Jackson was named the 46th best prospect in the game by MLB.com on Tuesday then just missed Keith Law’s list of the 100 best prospects in the game on Thursday.
Law ranked the Cubs’ system 20th and said it was a top 10 organization before the Matt Garza trade.
Trey McNutt landed on Law’s list of the top 100 at number 66 while Brett Jackson, Jay Jackson, Josh Vitters and Chris Carpenter were among the ten that just missed Law’s list.
The Cubs also signed a couple of former top players from the Cuban national team … outfielder Rubi Silva and catcher Yaniel Cabeza. The deals are not official; both players are in the Dominican Republic waiting for their visa issues to be finalized. Silva and Cabeza are expected to start the year with the Peoria Chiefs.
Notes from the CCO
Look for more coverage over the next week on the Cubs’ Minor League system … including more from Baseball America and twenty names from the farm.
Happy Birthday to Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks! The Cubs legend turns 80 on Monday.
Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO
Well, there’s the update and I’m sticking to it.