Cubs News and Notes from Day One of Camp ‘Q’

The biggest news out of the first day of on field workouts was the three-year, $20 million deal signed by Carlos Marmol. The Cubs backloaded the contract that buys Marmol out of his last two years of arbitration eligibility and his first year of free agency. Marmol received a $1 million signing bonus as a part of his $3.2 million salary for 2011. Marmol will receive $7 million in 2012 and $9.8 million in 2013. Marmol’s contract included a limited no-trade clause.

The Cubs debuted the commemorative patch they will wear this season for Ron Santo. Every uniformed member of the Cubs will wear a #10 patch in honor of the Cubs’ legend.

Here’s the update from Mesa with a couple of videos … and did Mike Quade refer to himself in the third person?

News and Notes from Mesa

Mark Riggins on XM Radio
The Cubs’ new pitching coach spent time with Casey Stern and Mel Antonen during MLB Roundtrip (XM Radio) on Monday night. Mark Riggins said the Cubs have a lot of exciting arms in camp … and it got deeper when they acquired Matt Garza and signed Kerry Wood.

Riggins explained the Cubs have 10 guys fighting for spots in the rotation. Ryan Dempster, Carlos Zambrano and Matt Garza, plus Carlos Silva and Randy Wells were in the rotation last year. The Cubs have five other pitchers vying for the last two spots.

Carlos Marmol was extremely excited about having his deal done. Riggins said the biggest thing they have to do with Marmol is cut down all the walks. The Cubs have him for three more years and they want him as fresh as possible.

As for Matt Garza pitching at Wrigley, Riggins admitted it could end up being a problem. Garza throws a lot of fastballs and challenges hitters. They have to get him to keep the ball down and in the park. The Cubs really like his attitude and he’s the type of player they are trying to bring in … one with a winning attitude that will help the team reach its goals.

The Cubs have to keep Carlos Zambrano focused on the game. Z is excited about the season and is in great shape. Riggins explained that Zambrano is very competitive and sometimes he loses control.

Carlos Silva is competing for a job this spring. The Cubs have to see what Silva can bring and he is not guaranteed a job in the starting rotation. The Cubs are not giving anyone a job based on how they played in the past.

Riggins knows all of the young pitchers from being the Cubs’ Minor League pitching coordinator. Riggins also knows many of the veteran pitchers due to being in big league camp the last three springs. Riggins said there are only a few pitchers he needs to get to know.

The Cubs were interested in signing Braden Looper last year. Looper wants to pitch in Chicago for the Cubs and he told Riggins could still get the job done. Riggins knows Looper rather well from their time together in St. Louis. The Cubs were very honest with Looper from the beginning and have not made any promises.

With Randy Wells, it all boils down to confidence. Riggins said Wells can get lost for a hitter or two and allow that to carry over. Plus, Wells has a tendency to carry over a bad start and that is one of the things that happened last year.

Jim Hendry told the group of pitchers on Monday that he feels this is the best group of arms the Cubs have had in camp. Riggins said it takes 16 to 18 pitchers to get through a season and the Cubs really like the depth they have … both at the big league and minor league levels.

Boys Of Spring
Don’t forget to check the latest post from Tim SheridanDay One. Sheridan included photos of Kerry Wood, Bobby Dernier, Mike Quade, Tyler Colvin, Darwin Barney, Blake DeWitt, Todd Wellemeyer and Reed Johnson.

Minor League News
On the day Brian Harper was introduced as the new manager of the Tennessee Smokies, the Cubs and Smokies announced a two-year extension to keep the Cubs’ Double-A team in Tennessee.

The Smokies have been the Cubs’ Double-A affiliate since 2007 and their current deal ran through the 2012 season. The two-year extension announced Monday expires after the 2014 season.

Since 2007, the Smokies have reached the post-season three times … and they figure to have a very good roster once again this season.

Tidbits from Bruce Levine
Mr. Talkin’ Baseball checked in from Mesa on the Afternoon Saloon (ESPN 1000). Here are the highlights from Monday:

  • According to Levine, the Cubs saved around $9 million by signing Carlos Marmol to a three-year deal on Monday.
  • Marmol’s contract was agreed upon around five or six days ago but Marmol had some personal stuff to work out before signing the deal (Levine did not elaborate).
  • Andrew Cashner will get a chance throughout camp to make the starting rotation.
  • James Russell is working on his changeup as part of his preparation to compete for a job in the starting rotation.
  • Russell admitted that he and Cashner were star-struck when they saw Kerry Wood. Russell said that Wood is a “God in Texas.”
  • Randy Wells was not happy with the way he was depicted in the media last year. Wells is not a partier and did not go out partying with the Blackhawks for example.
  • When Jeff Samardzija reported last week he was told that he would be pitching out of the bullpen. Samardzija is not one of the many pitchers competing for the final two spots in the rotation. Samardzija has to prove he can record outs in order to make the team as a reliever.
  • Carlos Silva, Todd Wellemeyer and Braden Looper are in the mix for the backend of the rotation.
  • Levine thinks that Mike Quade will sit the veterans if they do not perform … no matter the size of their contract.
  • The Cubs really want Blake DeWitt to be the starting second baseman. DeWitt has been working with Rudy Jaramillo and they feel he’s made a lot of progress.

Video from Mesa





Quote of the Day … From Mike Quade in the Sun-Times’ report Quade may change Cubs, but not his ways: “I understand the magnitude, believe me, but it doesn’t do Mike Quade any good to get wrapped up in the magnitude. I’m more of a grinding, day-in, day-out guy. If we’re going to be successful here with me in charge, I have to stay in charge of myself and do what I need to do.

Sounds like Quade spent a little time with Carlos Zambrano before he talked to the media.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Well, there’s the update … and the CCO is sticking to it!

Quote of the Day

"From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life." – Arthur Ashe
  • Agustin_Rexach

    Love to wake up and read my CCO! Great stuff Neil. Thank you for an ubelievable off season and for making the long winter shorter. Just wanted to let you all know I’m wearing My goggles starting today and wont take em off until they are mathematically eliminated. I still think this franchise is backwards from top to bottom but the score is 0-0, we are all tied up in first place and I have seen not so great teams become great! So we have a chance! Plus I believe chemistry can go a long way and for the first time in a couple of years, expectations are rock bottom for this group and they definitely have the talent to surprise. They might actually blend in better than years past(not to hard ino). I believe ST is the key and management has a chance to show they are about playing the right guys instead of playing the contracts. Good luck ,Q Go Cachorros de Chicago.

    • Tony

      I am with you, love waking up and reading the CCO! I am actually working on my Cubbie goggles firmly attached and gulping the blue kool-aid thoughts on 2011.

      We can disagree with the moves that are made, but I ALWAYS root for them to win, every game, every time. I want nothing more than to watch a competitive team, filled with guys, that understand, they are playing a kids game, and getting paid millions to do so.

    • Neil

      Thanks Agustin

    • Suzy S.

      Augustin…while I love your enthusisiasm…and I’m really up for Spring..this is the first year ever that I hope the Cubs win somewhere between 48 to 50 games and draw less than a million….IF THAT IS WHAT IT TAKES for Ricketts to DUMP Hendry and bring back Sandberg.
      I havn’t posted much…but I’ve been reading CCO all the time…and I am indeed a TRUE Cubs fan…but just feel we will never go anywhere until
      Hendry has been replaced with a winning GM.

      The Ghost of Milton Bradley…or possibly the NEXT Milton Bradley he signs…is just too much.

      • Neil

        Suzy, great to hear from you!

  • Tony

    Neil – Riggins says there are 10 guys vying for the rotations. From the list above I see 9 names

    Dempster, Zambrano, Garza (By the way, that is the order I would start the year)
    Silva, Wells, Cashner, Wellemeyer, Looper and Russell – makes 9

    Is Coleman the 10th?

    • Neil

      Yes, that is what I’m assuming. Riggins did not mention Coleman by name.

      • Tony

        That tells you he really doesn’t have a chance to break camp in the rotation. Coleman, to me, is the guy you never hype, never say is going to be a part of the rotation, but when things happen, and they always do, you turn to, to bail you out and start games, while so and so has been ineffective, and so and so is hurt.

        I could easily see Coleman spending the next few years, as the guy they never penciled into the future plans, but getting starts when they need help.

        • Richard Hood

          I agree Tony. I expect that even if Coleman ends up not in the rotation early will still end up with 10 to 15 starts this year as a shuttle guy. I hope that the moxie he shows doing that keeps him around. He is one of those glue guys that you like but know they will never be great. A lot like Marshall was for the last few years before last year.

  • Tony

    Neil – How would you have divided up Carlos Marmol’s contract? 3 years $20M?

    They started with a number for this year,that he would have earned, added in 2012, at the low end of arbitration for him. Then through out a number for his 1st year of FA (2013), also on the low side, and told Marmol, that if he wants that added year, they need a lower number this year, to help the team out (help JH pay for what he has already spent.)

    Marmol and his agent are smart, and took the guaranteed money (especially 2013).

    I really think 2012 and 2013 are discounts and that the biggest discount was given for this year, to get the extra year guaranteed.

    • paulcatanese

      Tony did you happen to watch the news last night on WGN? They showed a short blurb of JH coming up to Marmol apparantly to tell him the contract was done. The look on Mamol’s face was priceless,a grin from ear to ear,he was happy and then left,I assume to go inside to fianalize the deal,great stuff,very happy for him.

      • Tony

        No I didn’t, but I can only imagine, how happy he must be, knowing that he has set-up his family for life, financially.

  • Neil

    Tony, I know I used the word “backloaded”, but I had to. For the most part, I am okay with the way they structured it. Maybe a little more even over the three years, but all in all about what I was expecting for the three years.

  • Tony

    I don’t know about the rest of you, but I pretty much know that when that first ST game is on the radio, and especially Opening Day 2011, that when we hear those magical words, “The Chicago Cubs are on the Air!” that it will be an extremely emotional time, knowing that #10 is sitting in the best seat in the house, up above, and his #10 is on our Cubbies sleeve.

    For all the days, when I was listening to the game, in my car, and I would hear, Ron eating a hot dog, trying to talk, screaming (just like I did) at a bad play, or just saying “that is terrible”. you knew he wasn’t a polished announcer, with an unbiased attititude, he was one of us, the best of us, and he will be so missed.

    • BillyFinT

      Same here. I don’t spend much time on the radio back in Chicago when I was driving, but just Ronnie, he’s something else. I would pull my car to the side on a beautiful summer night, and just leave the radio on, enjoying all his drama and passion as a Cubs fan.

      By the way, I replied you about this fantasy league. Will the auction draft rescheduled for March 12 work for you?:

      • Tony

        I don’t want you to change your draft, for me. But if you do, I will sign-up, as I don’t think I would be able to do the draft during the fundraiser.

        I have never done an auction league, but always wanted to, sounds like fun.

        • BillyFinT

          Then welcome!

          • Tony

            All signed up. Thanks!

  • BillyFinT

    I really hope some one from the Cubs organization can spend a little bit of effort, just a little spare time from all the #10 preps, on remembering Phil Cavarretta. After all, he’s the last living Cubs to have reached the World Series. And that was his MVP year, not bad to be remembered as a motivation for all future Cubs.

    Unless, of course, nobody wants to remember the last time the Cubs was actually winning some meaningful postseason games. Who cared, after 65 years of perish as the “Lovable Losers?”

    Win some ballgames!

    • paulcatanese

      Totally agree on Cavarretta,one of my heros.

  • paulcatanese

    Neil,I can’t top some of the comments to you about the good job you are doing and have done since I have joined the site,but I cannot say enough how it has changed my life for the better and thank you,once again Paul

  • paulcatanese

    Just read the blog where Silva is sying he has “his” spot in the rotation locked up and there is only one left. Must be that his ego is as big as his waistline.He’s starting to remind me of the Army at roll call,always the same guys to go to sick call. Look for more of the same from him this season.

    • Tony

      I have to say, I respect Silva for having confidence in himself, and telling the other pitchers, that they have to beat him out soundly, as he is here to stay.

      I do believe, if healthy, he will be in the rotation out of ST, but I don’t believe he will be around all year.

      • Patrick_Schaefer

        If he came to Camp in shape, I’d support him a little more. If he actually earns a spot fine especially if he can give us one good half like last year.
        But I just don’t have the confidence in him.

        • Tony

          I have no confidence in him either, and would be shocked if he is as effective as last year at the beginning of the year. But you know, they will give him every chance to make the rotation, to justify the cash!