Pitchers and catchers report to Fitch Park in four days …
The on the field work begins for the Chicago Cubs on Sunday … pitchers and catchers report on February 13, position players on February 18 with the first full squad workout scheduled for February 19. Mike Quade said he’s going to “stress fundamentals like a son of a gun.”
The Cubs first Cactus League game is on February 27 and Pat Hughes, along with his new partner, will call the game against the Oakland A’s from HoHoKam Park.
The Cubs released their spring broadcast schedule on Tuesday. For the first time nearly all of the exhibition games will be broadcast either on radio, TV or via the Internet on Cubs.com. 32 of the Cubs 34 games will be carried and Len Kasper will join Mick Gillispie, the Smokies’ play-by-play man, for most of the Cubs.com radio broadcasts.
Here’s the update including Jayson Stark’s off-season grade for the Cubs, news and notes and could Augie Ojeda break camp with the Cubs?
The Cubs released their spring broadcast schedule on Tuesday. For the first time almost all of the Cubs’ exhibition games (32 of 34) will be broadcast on either the radio, TV, or on the Internet.
Eight of the games will be broadcast on TV, with WGN carrying six of them. The first look at the 2011 Cubs will be one of the games on March 6. The Cubs have a split squad day on the 6th (the other game is against the Reds in Goodyear) and WGN will televise the game against the Dodgers at HoHoKam Park.
Pat Hughes will call the first two Cactus League games on February 27 (Oakland A’s) and February 28 (Milwaukee Brewers) from HoHoKam Park. Comcast SportsNet’s first televised game will be on March 20.
The other 19 games will be broadcast via the Internet on Cubs.com. Len Kasper will join Mick Gillispie for most of the Internet radio broadcasts. The Spring Training games on Cubs.com will be broadcast free of charge with a registered account.
Chattin’ with Bruce Levine
Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his last weekly chat before leaving for Arizona. Here are the highlights from Bruce Levine’s chat on ESPN Chicago.com …
- The Cubs and WGN could announce who will be Pat Hughes’ new partner in the next week. Levine is still hearing it is down to Keith Moreland and Dave Otto.
- At the start of the season, the power on the Cubs bench will probably be Alfonso Soriano or Tyler Colvin … depending on if Soriano or Colvin are in the starting lineup. The Cubs do not appear to be looking to add any other free agents to the mix.
- Levine reminded everyone that the Cubs hold a team option on Aramis Ramirez for the 2012 season.
- Look for Jay Jackson and Trey McNutt to be the two young pitchers that could impress this spring.
- As for Augie Ojeda, Levine thinks Ojeda is probably on the Cubs 25-man roster to start the season. Ojeda would serve as an experienced backup to Starlin Castro … and it would give Darwin Barney regular playing time at the Triple-A level.
- Levine would be more concerned about run production from the outfield than Mike Quade’s managerial acumen.
- The Cubs have no money to trade for Michael Young. They would have to trade a salary like Kosuke Fukudome’s to make Young’s salary work for just one season. Levine explained that committing to Young past one year might be a difficult process to get by ownership. Nobody wants to be spending big dollars on aging veterans. Levine admitted Young would be an upgrade and he had a great relationship with Rudy Jaramillo.
- Jeff Samardzija will compete for a spot in the bullpen.
- Fernando Perez and Reed Johnson will compete for the fifth outfielder’s job.
- Levine believes that Braden Looper will either break camp in the rotation or be released. The Cubs are going to need every one of the ‘B’ games in Spring Training to get all of the starters innings.
- The Cubs would love to sign Matt Garza to a long-term deal. They would like to be able to control what he will cost them. Levine thinks the Cubs will look to sign Garza to a three or four year contract down the line.
- Most teams do not view Kosuke Fukudome as an everyday player. That is the reason there wasn’t any movement on Fukudome this winter … even with the Cubs eating half of the money he’s owed this season.
- Randy Wells is aware that this could be a make or break season for him with the Cubs. Wells will compete for one of the last two spots in the rotation … and he needs to be the best he can early in the spring.
- The Cubs have no plans to take Sean Marshall out of his set-up role.
- The Cubs are looking at having their own network down the road, like the Yankees, Red Sox and Orioles. The Cubs are locked into their current contracts with WGN TV and Comcast SportsNet.
- Mark Riggins is very familiar with the pitchers on the big league team … as well as the young pitchers in the minors. Riggins was the Cubs Minor League Pitching Coordinator for three seasons before landing the pitching coach job this off-season.
- The Cubs system is still considered to be in good shape … even with trading four of their top prospects. Jay Jackson and Brett Jackson are considered ready for primetime. Trey McNutt is on the fast track to the majors … and the Cubs consider Welington Castillo a Major League player in the near future. The Cubs have lots of good young players coming through the system.
- Carlos Pena is very good in the field … and many will not notice the difference, defensively, between Pena and Derrek Lee.
- James Russell will get an opportunity to earn a starting job in Spring Training.
- Fernando Perez dealt with a lot of injuries last season. He brings outstanding defense and great speed to the table.
Jayson Stark’s Off-Season Grades
ESPN’s Jayson Stark handed out his off-season grades for the NL Central. Stark was complimentary of the Cubs winter and gave them a ‘B’ for their moves.
Biggest additions: Matt Garza, Carlos Pena, Kerry Wood, Reed Johnson, Fernando Perez, Max Ramirez and Mike Quade
Biggest Subtractions: Tom Gorzelanny, Xavier Nady, Sam Fuld and Lou Piniella
Stark said the Cubs got better but several factors will depend on how much they got better. Which Matt Garza did they trade for? The no-hit Garza or the 19 runs in three starts in September Garza. Will Carlos Pena hit above the Mendoza Line? Will Kerry Wood make 60 trips to the mound or spend 60 days on the DL?
Garza was well-worth trading for according to Stark and Pena was a decent one-year investment but Wood could end up being “the best buy any team made all winter.”
Stark’s other NL Central Grades:
Cincinnati Reds – C
St. Louis Cardinals – C
Milwaukee Brewers – A-
Houston Astros – D
Pittsburgh Pirates – C+
Other News and Notes
Dusty Baker weighed in on the NL Central with Fred Mitchell. Baker is wary of the Cubs in the NL Central race.
Patrick Mooney of CSN Chicago handed out his off-season grades for the NL Central.
The Ricketts family is aiming to buy land in the Dominican Republic for a location “for a brand new, state of the art Cubs baseball academy to develop young players in one of the richest talent bases in the world” according to a report from Dave Kaplan.
Baseball Prospectus tweeted late Tuesday night that the projected standings for the upcoming season that was posted Monday was actually from the 2010 season. BP will release their projected standings for 2011 soon. The CCO apologizes to our readers for passing on old information. We will post the updated PECOTA standings when they are released.
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Well, there’s the update … and it is almost time for baseball!