Pitchers and catchers report to Fitch Park in seven days …
It is Super Bowl Sunday. After the NFL’s biggest game a majority of the focus will turn to Major League Baseball. Pitchers and catchers report in one week, position players on February 18 with the first full squad workout scheduled for February 19 … the first pitch of the Cubs’ Cactus League schedule is three weeks from Sunday. Chicago Cubs baseball is just around the corner.
The trucks were loaded on Friday and departed for Arizona. While the official reporting days are at least a week away, many of the players are already in Mesa preparing for Spring Training
The Cubs and Carlos Marmol are working on a multi-year contract … but now there is a deadline. According to a report from Bruce Levine, Marmol’s arbitration hearing is set for February 15. Both sides are expecting to avoid arbitration by either agreeing to a one-year deal or a long-term contract.
Talkin’ Baseball (ESPN 1000) began its 20th season on Saturday morning. The 20th anniversary show featured an impressive lineup that included Ryan Dempster, Ryan Theriot and Lou Piniella.
On the final Sunday without Cubs’ baseball until at least October, here’s the update …
The Cubs and Carlos Marmol are working on a long-term deal. While the two sides might not be as close as first reported on a long-term contract, Marmol’s agent (Barry Praver) and the Cubs feel a contract will be worked out (either a one-year or a three-year deal) before February 15.
Jim Hendry prefers to avoid arbitration and the Cubs have gone to arbitration only once since Mark Grace in 1993 … Ryan Theriot last year. The Cubs came very close to going into the room with Carlos Zambrano back in 2007, but the two sides agreed to a deal just moments before the hearing was scheduled to begin. Zambrano and Marmol share the same agent.
According to Bruce Levine, the Cubs could be working on a three-year contract with Marmol in the $23-$25 million range. The Cubs will have a one-year deal or a three-year contract in place with Carlos Marmol by next weekend … and at the very least, avoid the arbitration hearing with their closer.
The celebration/roast of Bruce Levine’s 20th season of Talkin’ Baseball on ESPN 1000 began Saturday morning. An impressive list of guests kicked off the 20th year of the show … Jim Leyland, Ryan Theriot, Bobby Cox, Lou Piniella, Ryan Dempster, Jerry Reinsdorf, Ozzie Guillen, Bud Selig and Bert Blyleven. For those interested in hearing a very good show about baseball, click here to go to ESPN Chicago’s Talkin’ Baseball Podcast page …
With the exception of an update on Carlos Marmol, Bruce Levine and Fred Huebner let their guests do the talkin’.
The former Cubs’ infielder said it was an honor to be a part of the show; then had to explain his comments about being on the right side of the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry.
Theriot reiterated more of the same that he told Dave Kaplan (WGN Radio) just after the Cubs Convention.
Theriot compared the scene of when he was asked about the Cubs-Cardinals rivalry to that of a kid being sat in front of his mom and dad and being asked which one he loved most. Theriot said he’s super-excited to be a Cardinal but he never wanted to leave the Cubs. He considers Chicago his second home and would have loved to play his entire career with the Cubs.
Levine asked Theriot if he thinks taking the Cubs to arbitration last year had anything to do with him being traded. Theriot admitted he thinks about the arbitration hearing a lot but does not think he had to do with him no longer being a Cub. He said he knew his role would be changing and did not what his role would have been with Starlin Castro coming up. Theriot thinks Castro is going to be a superstar.
The Cubs’ former shortstop would like to receive a similar welcome from the Wrigley crowd to the one Mark DeRosa received in 2009. Theriot loved his time in Chicago and at Wrigley and is hoping the fans realize he gave it his all during his time in a Cubs’ unioform.
Theriot explained that the fans in Chicago get and understand baseball and hopefully that will lead to a warm welcome when he returns to Wrigley.
Theriot has a lot of respect for his former teammates and he feels there is general respect between him and his old team.
After Theriot left the conversation, Levine said everything changed between him and the Cubs when he took them to arbitration last year.
The Cubs former skipper joined Bruce Levine and Fred Huebner on Saturday morning. Lou Piniella was extremely complimentary of Levine and said (more than once) that Levine helped make his four years in Chicago more enjoyable.
Levine really liked his time with Lou and praised him for always being honest with the media.
Piniella sounded excited about his new position with the San Francisco Giants. Lou will not have to travel and is looking forward to working with Brian Sabean, who he’s had a good relationship with for many years.
The Cubs will always have a special place in Lou’s heart. Piniella spoke highly of the Ricketts family, Jim Hendry and Mike Quade. He is sure the Cubs will prosper under the new ownership.
It was a very difficult year for Piniella. Between the death of his uncle and his mother being very ill, it took its toll. Piniella revealed that his mother has been in the hospital for the last 12 days.
Piniella admitted he was gone a lot from the team before he stepped down. He feels the players realized it and noticed he was not giving it his all. Piniella is hoping Quade and the players have a very good season.
Lou will be covering the American League for the Giants during Spring Training and as well once the season starts. Piniella said six or seven teams offered him a job, plus a job on television, but he feels his new job with the Giants is the best situation for him. He will not have to travel and he will be able to go home every night.
Lou Piniella feels good about what he accomplished with the Cubs. In two years the Cubs went from a 96-loss team (2006) to a 97-win team (2008). Despite the success, Piniella admitted the big disappointment was not getting where they wanted to in the post-season.
Piniella pointed out that he worked for five different owners over his last five years as a manager. He truly feels the Ricketts’ heart is in the right place and he knows they will bring a championship to the City of Chicago.
Ryan Dempster was glad to be able to join Bruce Levine on his 20th anniversary show.
Dempster has been in Arizona quite a bit this off-season. In fact, a bunch of veterans as well as young players trying to make the team have been in Mesa. Dempster said around 25 guys had a nice hike at 5:45am in the other morning.
Ryan Dempster thinks Jim Hendry had a good off-season. Kerry Wood played a substantial role in Hendry’s winter and Dempster was impressed Wood took a lot less money to return to the Cubs. Dempster likes the addition of Carlos Pena. He pointed out that Hendry added great guys to the clubhouse with Pena, Wood and Matt Garza … plus the non-roster guys. Dempster was quick to say that not only are they good guys but they are good players as well.
Dempster indicated the Cubs have to stay healthy and get after it from day one.
Andrew Cashner has a great arm and great stuff according to Dempster. Cashner is a big strong kid but will have to make sure he is prepared for the amount of innings a starter logs. Dempster was complimentary of Cashner and what he could bring to the rotation.
Cashner is just one of the pitchers in the mix for the last two spots in the rotation. Dempster thinks the competition will be fun; he pointed out that competition always brings out the best.
Levine asked Dempster about being the Cubs Opening Say starter. Dempster quickly said how doesn’t want to be the starter on Opening Day. Dempster said he’s always strived to be the best he could be no matter what team or situation he’s in. The Cubs have three guys that could pitch on Opening Day. Dempster liked what Mike Quade said during the convention that whoever is pitching that day is his ace.
Being the teammate that he is, Dempster said he would start the fifth game if that is what the Cubs want.
Ryan Dempster was extremely complimentary toward Levine and thanked him for all he’s done for the Dempster Family Foundation.
Miscellanous Cubs Notes
Cubs’ new pitching coach, Mark Riggins uses a tough love approach with his pitchers and puts a lot of responsibility on the catchers according to a report from the Chicago Tribune.
Former Cub, Jim Edmonds is returning to St. Louis. A big part of the Cubs’ 2008 Central Division Championship team signed a minor league deal with the Cardinals on Friday. Edmonds will compete for a bench spot on the big league roster. Edmonds must have worked out his differences with Tony LaRussa.
Tyler Colvin and John Grabow have a lot to prove this spring according to a report from the Tribune. Grabow will be paid $4.8 million in the upcoming season after inking a $7.5 million deal last winter. Grabow is entering his walk year.
Len Kasper thinks there is reason for optimism this season … but a lot of things have to go right that didn’t last year. Kasper said it will be an interesting season for the Cubs. He likes the off-season moves and if things go right, they can compete in the division.
According to Barry Rozner, Dave Otto is the right guy for Cubs radio.
Boys Of Spring
Tim Sheridan, the Cubs P.A. announcer at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, runs an excellent blog and is a must read during this time of year. Tim provides a great view on the team, plus he provides updates, with photos, on a daily basis.
If you have not visited Boys Of Spring, go check it out and let Tim know the CCO sent you.
Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO
Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.