Cubs News and Tidbits … While Waiting for Pitchers and Catchers to Report

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.

Quote of the Day

"Laughter is an instant vacation." - Milton Berle
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  • Patrick_Schaefer

    I wouldn’t want Orlando Cabrera anyways!! He is declining and I would rather have the upside of Darwin Barney than a declining Cabrera for a back-up. Unless they are considering Barney starting at 2b over DeWitt, then I would take Cabrera as a backup.
    My Garage has a 4 to 5ft snow drift in front of it, and my block has been plowed only on the one side( the main road) but they plowed in the side roads that I need to use to get out unless my buddy can get out and pick me up it looks like I get a snow day from work! They pushed back our start time for the day 3 hours from 4a.m. to 7a.m. but I still don’t see hardly any of the 500 people on my shift showing up for work! I work at a grocery distribution center (warehouse). I don’t see how with the roads the way they are that they are going to ship groceries anyways.

    • paulcatanese

      I remember all that weather.And I complain here when it gets 40-50 degrees and rain,I won’t again. I really hope Barney does not get aced out. I like him, think he is very smooth with the glove and hopefully will hit. Cabrera is on the way down and we (Cubs) do not more of that.

  • Dexter

    I’m still worried about the second base position. Blake DeWitt is a good backup but not a starter.

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      Unless he makes great strides this year I don’t think he will be a starter next year. I think he will show some improvement though, he’s only gonna be 25 this year.

  • John_CC

    “Maddux is a brilliant baseball guy who could end up as a manager or a farm director any time he wants to.”

    I like that, a lot.

    So the great blizzard of ’11 made it to town, eh? I have friends and family there, I miss that kind of once a decade storm. I’m in Montana now and it is just cold, brutally cold. So…I thought it would be a good time to see if anyone is going to Arizona next month? Looks like I get to make the short trip again, first weekend of March. Just four weeks away! Man…

    • paulcatanese

      John,just read that you live in Montana.My oldest son goes Elk hunting there every year. Great state,,high sky. Left Chicago in 1963, still miss it a lot,no White Castle hamburgers out here in California. Only the Giants Ha.

  • Gary J

    hmmmm…. wonder if Maddux ever thought about being a GM :-)

    • John_CC

      Another year learning the ropes and he’ll be ready.

  • paulcatanese

    Neil,nice article again. I wonder,Levine stated that the “Cubs would spend money” if the younger players are not developing.I would hope they get the chance to develop and not be blocked by over-age veteran players that are picked up to try and go for the gold this year,not likely that they will in 2011.

  • Dorasaga

    Neil,

    When’s the last time the Cubs fixed the exterior of Wrigley Field? There was the brick falling and now panels falling, then what’s next? …

    I recall, probably was in 2007, that the Tribune redid the whole playing field (“turf replacement,” says wiki) with new ducts, for better water displacement. They also, I think, lowered the field so it’s more flat, and the new underground suite thing will get a view. I believe the Tribune followed the progress and made a video out of the whole turf replacement; can’t find it now; if someone knows the link, please hit me. I’ll love to read it again, thanks!

  • coutz34

    speaking of renavations, when did they up date the inside of wrigley (not the feild) bc last year my girlf friend and i took a trip down to wrigley and sat in rf and got put under this leaky spout that was dripping and we got one lady that told us it was ok to move down a few seats (we stayed in the same row) but then we group of came to those seats and a different usher got very angry with us about that we moved to those seats and wew explaind why and the ppl around us we in aww of how he treated us and his snippy comment of “oh ya? then show me where it is sopposbly is leaking then ” adn he would not let us move. grated it only driped a few drops every couple min buut it became a nuesence for her and i. and so i was just woundering have they renavated anything like that in recent memory.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Dorasaga and coutz … the only renovations done to Wrigley in recent years were the bleacher renovations in 2005-2006, the scoreboard was painted around the same time, the field in 2007 and if I remember correctly the Ricketts family gave the back of the scoreboard a face lift last year. The Ricketts also made other improvements last off-season.

      The grandstands have not been touched, other than various repairs to keep things from falling on people. That is one of the major projects that has to be done.

      Dorasaga, you are referring to the ‘crown’ that used to exist on the infield. For example, first base could not be seen from the Cubs dugout due to the crown. The field is flat and the drainage is great.

      Sorry, I do not have a link any longer on the video.

      • Dorasaga

        Thanks, you’re the best.