Pitchers and catchers report to Fitch Park in 22 days and the first pitch of the spring is just 36 days away … Baseball is just around the corner.
WGN and Comcast SportsNet have not released their spring broadcast schedules yet but at least two of the Cubs Cactus League games will be carried on ESPN2.
The Cubs signed a minor league first baseman that has a well-known grandfather. Tim Wilken’s scouting staff received a boost and the Cubs announced the signing of Matt Szczur. Szczur’s $1.5 million contract is not a Major League deal and does not include an invite to big league camp.
Here’s the update, including what Jim Hendry envisions the Cubs outfield to look like in 2014 …
The Cubs announced the signing of their former first round draft pick in Luis Montanez and former Cub, Reed Johnson. The Cubs inked both to minor league deals and Johnson’s includes an invite to big league camp. Johnson is expected to compete with Fernando Perez for a spot on Mike Quade’s bench. No official word yet if Montanez’s deal included a non-roster invite to Spring Training.
According to Baseball America, the Cubs also signed John Urick, a left-handed first baseman, to a minor league deal. Urick played in independent ball in 2009 and 2010. The soon-to-be 29-year old spent from 2003 through 2005 in the Yankees organization and from 2006 through 2008 in the Phillies’ system. Urick has played a total of five games above A-ball (one in Triple-A and four in Double-A).
Adding to the Scouting Staff
During the Cubs Convention, Tom Ricketts said that he would be making additions to the Cubs’ scouting staff. Both Tim Wilken and Oneri Fleita spoke about the increased budget for the scouting and development staff and appeared very pleased that the Ricketts family was allocating more revenue in that direction.
According to a report from the Sun-Times, the Cubs hired Tim Kissner to be their new West Coast Supervisor, or crosschecker.
Kissner was the Pacific Rim Coordinator for 10 years in the Phillies organization.
Kissner “is now responsible for sorting through at least six lists of players covering the 16 western states, and adding them to a master list for the Major League Baseball draft.”
Cubs Spring Games on the Air
WGN, Comcast SportsNet and WGN Radio have not released their broadcast schedules for Cubs Spring Training games, but the Cubs will be on ESPN2 according to NBC Sports.
ESPN2 will televise two Cubs games from Arizona … Thursday, March 24 against the White Sox in Mesa and Saturday, March 26 against the Rangers in Surprise. Both games figure to feature most of the regulars with the Cactus League finale on March 29 against the Diamondbacks. The Cubs exhibition season ends with an Intrasquad game on March 30 at HoHoKam Park.
The Cubs announced the signing of Matt Szczur to a minor league contract on Thursday. The Cubs stepped up their efforts to sign Szczur and tripled their original offer to persuade him to pick baseball over football.
Bruce Miles reported the $1.5 million contract is not a Major League deal, unlike the one Jeff Samardzija inked in 2007. Szczur was not added to the Cubs’ 40-man roster and will report to minor league camp this spring. Szczur figures to start the season in A-ball.
Jim Hendry left the Cubs Convention early to secure Szczur’s commitment. Hendry told Szczur that he envisioned a Cubs outfield of Tyler Colvin in right, Brett Jackson in left and Szczur in center by the 2014 season.
Carlos Marmol and Matt Garza
Carlos Marmol filed for salary arbitration but no one thinks the Cubs and Marmol will get to the room. The two sides are reportedly working on a multi-year deal.
Marmol filed a $5.65 figure and the Cubs countered with $4.1 million. Marmol earned $2.125 million in 2010.
According to a report from Bruce Levine, the Cubs are looking to sign Marmol to a three-year contract. The deal would buy Marmol out of the last two years of arbitration (2011 and 2012) and his first year of free agency. Levine thinks a good starting point could be $18-$20 million. Inking Marmol to a three-year deal would give the Cubs cost certainty and would give Marmol financial security.
A three-year deal in the $18-$20 million range could save the Cubs $5-$7 million.
Matt Garza is under the Cubs control for three more seasons. He will earn $5.95 million in 2011 and if he continues pitching the way he has, Garza’s salary could jump into the $10 million range in 2012 and up to the $13 million mark in 2013 (Levine speculated between $13 and $15 million).
According to Levine, “the Cubs may want to reconfigure all three seasons and offer Garza a three year deal in the area of $23 to $25 million”.
The Cubs would have cost certainty and save around $6 to $8 million in the process.
One final note … According to the Sun-Times, once Marmol is under contract for the 2011 season, the Cubs Opening Day payroll figures to be around $130 million, 10 percent less than 2010.
Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.