Pitchers and catchers report to Fitch Park in 11 days, the first full squad workout is in just 19 days and Opening Day in the Cactus League is only 25 days away. Baseball is around the corner.
The blizzard that hit Chicago on Tuesday did damage to Wrigley Field. Due to the high winds, a portion of a structural panel above the press box at Wrigley broke away Tuesday night according to a report from the Tribune. The debris can be seen via the live cam outside of Wrigley. The Chicago Police cordoned off the streets and sidewalks and the Cubs are monitoring the situation. The Trib reported there were no injuries.
Salary arbitration hearings can now be held (Feb. 1 – Feb. 18) and the Cubs still have one arbitration eligible player left unsigned for the 2011 season … Carlos Marmol. The Cubs can still avoid arbitration with Marmol and are reportedly working on a multi-year deal. The two sides are expected to work out at least a one-year contract and no one feels Marmol and the Cubs will go to arbitration. Marmol submitted a $5.65 million figure and the Cubs countered with $4.1 million … Marmol earned $2.125 million in 2010.
Here’s the update including details on Braden Looper’s contract and tidbits from Bruce Levine … In case you forgot, it is Groundhog Day and if you missed it, there is a lot in common between the Bill Murray classic and the Chicago Cubs.
Chattin’ with Bruce Levine
Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his weekly chat on ESPN Chicago, here are the highlights …
- Jay Jackson could be the player or pitcher to surprise people this spring. Jackson has “a live arm and can start or relieve.”
- “Jim Hendry has one more year left under contract and he controls the fate of 90 people in baseball ops. If Hendry’s role changes or he’s dismissed, you could see upwards of 20-30 people coming into the Cubs organization over the next year.”
- Levine thinks the Cubs “will spend money if the young players aren’t developing.”
- According to Levine’s information, the Cubs are not getting closer to signing Orlando Cabrera.”
- Levine responded to the Internet rumors about the Cubs possibly being interested in Chone Figgins or Ian Kinsler. Levine said the Cubs have zero money to add Figgins or the players it would take to trade for Kinsler.
- Levine added later that Figgins is on the downside of his career. Taking on Figgins’ deal would be “bad for the Cubs”, plus the Mariners need offense and the Cubs do not have any players to help with their needs.
- The Cubs do not have any plans to take Sean Marshall out of the pen and make him a starter again.
- James Russell will be given a shot to earn a spot in the rotation.
- Levine mentioned the Cubs will work on long-term deals with Carlos Marmol and Matt Garza.
- Levine was asked about the Cubs possibly trading Geovany Soto. Levine does not think the Cubs will try to trade Soto … even if they have another bad season.
- Levine does not think Starlin Castro will suffer a sophomore slump. He thinks Castro will get better and improve his defense … Castro might not hit .300 this season but will square up on balls better and hit them with more authority.
- If Aramis Ramirez plays well in 2011, Levine thinks the Cubs will pick up his option and have him back at third in 2012.
- The Cubs are not on the hook, financially, with Braden Looper, Reed Johnson or Todd Wellemeyer unless they make the team out of Spring Training.
- Ryan Dempster is probably the Cubs’ Opening Day starter.
- Greg Maddux “can do basically what he wants to do” within the organization. Maddux spent last year evaluating the minor league teams, talking to players and consulting with Hendry on trades. “Maddux is a brilliant baseball guy who could end up as a manager or a farm director any time he wants to.”
- Trey McNutt could have been sent to Tampa in the Garza deal instead of Chris Archer. The Cubs feel McNutt has a bigger upside than Archer. McNutt could be in the majors by the end of the season.
- It is hard to say if Marlon Byrd will still be with the Cubs at the end of the season. According to Levine, if the Cubs are out of it, Byrd could get moved at the deadline.
- Levine was asked about the possibility of trading for Michael Young. According to Levine, the Cubs do not have the payroll flexibility it would take to trade for Young.
Cubs News and Notes
According to a tweet from Jerry Crasnick, Braden Looper’s deal with the Cubs will pay him $1 million if he makes the team out of Spring Training. The deal can max out around $3 million if Looper ends up in the starting rotation and hits all of his incentives.
According to a tweet from Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus, the Diamondbacks signed former Cubs farmhand, Mark Reed. The Cubs selected Reed in the third round of the 2004 draft. Reed elected for free agency this winter.
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Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.