Day Six of Camp ‘Q’ … All Present and Accounted For at Cubs Camp

The Cubs first full squad workout took place Saturday at Fitch Park. All 60 players currently on the Cubs’ Spring Training roster are in camp. The players and coaches dealt with high winds and dodged rain in order to get their work in.

Mike Quade spoke with the players prior to the first workout and told them what he expected and what they could expect from him this season.

Tom Ricketts addressed his team prior to pitchers and catchers taking the field. Ricketts then met with the media and answered a variety of questions from payroll to improvements at Wrigley to the Cubs possible interest in Albert Pujols … if/when he hits the market next off-season.

Tom Ricketts and Oneri Fleita joined Bruce Levine during Talkin’ Baseball (ESPN 1000). Ricketts discussed all things Cubs and mega-deals and Oneri Fleita talked about the young players in big league camp.

Here’s the update from Day Six, including notes from the two interviews on Talkin’ Baseball …

Tom Ricketts on Talkin’ Baseball
Tom Ricketts joined Bruce Levine and Fred Huebner Saturday morning shortly after he addressed his team.

Ricketts said his basic message to the team was to build on the momentum from the end of last season and use the next 40 days with a purpose. Tom would like to see his team come out strong on Opening Day, get off to a good start and play with pride and purpose throughout the season.

The Ricketts family is 100 percent behind Jim Hendry. Tom said Hendry has the full support of the family and he complimented him on the off-season. Hendry was able to make the changes needed to make the team competitive again with no financial flexibility. Tom was impressed with the job Hendry did putting the team back in the mix in the division.

Ricketts explained that the family gained more and more confidence in Jim Hendry after he’s gotten to know him and they’ve been able to see the job he’s done. Ricketts credited Hendry with the solid system the Cubs have in place … from the scouts to the farm directors to the coaching staffs, it’s all Jim according to Ricketts.

As for a possible contract extension for Carlos Pena, Tom said that he supposes that is always an option but something Hendry will have to play by ear. Ricketts said they are excited to have Carlos Pena with the team but as for an extension, that’s in Jim’s court.

Bruce Levine brought up Albert Pujols and prefaced the question about the Cardinals’ slugger by saying he realizes rules prohibit him from talking about a specific player, but would he be open to signing a player to a mega-contract.

Tom said the Cubs would have more financial flexibility next winter than they had this past off-season. How the Cubs redirect that money will be addressed as the season progresses. Ricketts said it doesn’t really make sense to talk about next year before this season begins. The Cubs will have more payroll flexibility next season and it will be up to Jim Hendry on how it is spent.

Oneri Fleita on Talkin’ Baseball
The Cubs Vice President of Player Personnel spent a little time talking prospects with Bruce Levine and Fred Huebner during Talkin’ Baseball.

Levine led off the interview by telling Oneri Fleita that one general manager called the Cubs’ system a sleeping giant even after the Matt Garza trade. Fleita acknowledged the depth in the organization as a plus before talking about the young arms in big league camp.

Fleita said pitchers like Trey McNutt, Chris Carpenter, Jay Jackson, Alberto Cabrera and Rafael Dolis have big arms that will be helping the Cubs soon.

Oneri Fleita admitted it has seemed like forever since the Cubs drafted Josh Vitters. But the 21-year old has only been in the system since 2007 and is showing progress at young age. Vitters spent all winter in ‘Camp Colvin‘ and it is great shape according to Fleita. Vitters has a great ability to make contact but needs to be more selective at the plate.

Josh Vitters will begin the year with the Tennessee Smokies (Double-A). Fleita said it is time for him to take the next step. Fleita feels he’s ready and will have a big season.

Fleita was asked about the catching depth in the system behind Geovany Soto … and he had several good things to say about Welington Castillo.

The Cubs have been very pleased with Welington Castillo’s defense. Castillo is a good catch-and-throw guy, can block pitches very well and has pop in his bat. The Cubs are happy with the way he’s picked up the English language. Fleita said that the language barrier between a catcher and a pitcher can be challenging and Castillo is progressing very well.

As for the depth behind Castillo, Steve Clevenger, Chad Noble and Micah Gibbs are the backstops that have stood out the most to Fleita.

Clevenger is a converted middle infielder and has already impressed in camp. Chad Noble and Micah Gibbs were both taken in last year’s draft and showed a lot of promise.

Levine asked Fleita about Darwin Barney and what he brings to the table. Barney is a winner and has won at every level. Barney won a championship in High School, two in college and again during his season with the Daytona Cubs. Fleita compared him to Ryan Theriot and hopes he can help the team in the near future.

As for the one player to watch in Class-A, Fleita quickly said Hayden Simpson before singing the praises of Ben Wells … a 6’3″ right-hander the Cubs took in the seventh round last year.

After discussing the two pitchers, Fleita said the one player he’s looking forward to watching this year is D.J. LeMahieu. LeMahieu is not far away from the big league club and Fleita is looking for a big year from him. Fleita sounded like a proud father when he said that LeMahieu could help the Cubs very soon.

News, Notes and Tweets from Mesa … Along with Tidbits from Talkin’ Baseball

  • According to Bruce Levine, Augie Ojeda will not be with the organization unless he beats out Darwin Barney in the spring.
  • Same goes for Todd Wellemeyer, unless he beats out six or seven guys he will not be with the organization after Spring Training.
  • According to Bruce Levine, Reed Johnson and Fernando Perez are in competition for the 25th spot on the Cubs’ roster. Johnson and Perez are considered pretty much equal. Two of the differences … Perez brings speed to the team and Johnson is considered a good leader in the clubhouse.
  • According to Bruce Levine, Marlon Byrd is a possibility in the leadoff spot … Kosuke Fukudome, Blake DeWitt and Jeff Baker are the leading candidates to hit at the top of Quade’s lineup.
  • Levine is expecting the Cubs to focus more on fundamentals this spring with extra work on the inner-diamond defense … short and second.

Quote of the DayVia Carrie Muskat on Twitter: Mike Quade, “Today was fun because you’re kicking off what you expect to be something that you’re putting your signature on. It’s my day.

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Quote of the Day

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow." - Albert Einstein
  • Mike1040

    BRING IT!!!! I’m ready. Obvious faults and all. Lets go!
    I know, I know, rah rah rah.
    Can’t help it. Go Q, make it work.

  • paulcatanese

    As Levine said,”Johnson and Perez are pretty much equal” Pena has speed and Johnson is great in the clubhouse. I would say you don’t win ball games in the clubhouse. If thats the case,give Brett Jackson extra attention and not so much to Johnson,He probably won’t be with the team after ST anyway.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Paul, Paul, Paul . . .

      What do you mean “you don’t win games in the clubhouse?” You need to read my post to Aaron. Which game are you taking about, anyway? Huh? Mr. .196 gets lots of RBI’s in the clubhouse. Just ask his teammates.

  • paulcatanese

    I read earlier that Quade was hands on with bunting drills and leadoffs with the players,also around second and short. Now thats what I call fundementals.small ball can never hurt a team. The cover of the bag (Castro),I’m sure that will be addressed as well.Neil lots of good things in the post to write about,thanks.

  • Ripsnorter1

    You know what your trouble is Aaron?

    You think with your head. That’s bad, Aaron. That’s very bad. You see, if you’re a Cubbie fan, you must think with your heart, with your head in a pile of sand somewhere. And you must drink the blue Kool-Aid–lots and lots of blue Kool-Aid.

    Now if you could think with your heart, and have your head buried deep in a pile of sand somewhere, then you’d easily understand why Hill is the catcher of choice. He’s a good clubhouse guy, and that’s important.

    Having consumed copious amounts of blue Kool-Aid would enable you to understand that Mr. .196 is a very good dancer, and he can help guys that have trouble picking up barflies. They can have his leftovers. Mr. .196’s teammates call that “an RBI.” That makes for a good clubhouse guy, and that’s important.

    And take Funko. This guy is very valuable to the Cubs. He doesn’t speak a word of English. Not one single word. That’s valuable, Aaron, very valuable. Because those teammates who were enabled to pick up some barflies with the aid of Mr. .196 love having Funko around. Because they know that their wives haven’t got a single clue about what Funko is trying to say to them about last night after the game. Not one single clue. And that’s very valuable. Makes for a great clubhouse guy.

    So you see, Aaron, it’s all about winning.


    • paulcatanese

      Rip,thats precious.Very very funny.

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      I prefer the Cubbie Blue raspberry Kool-Aid it’s both sweet and tart quite delicious mmmmm. LOL!

  • Tony

    I like the fact that Q is hands on, stressing fundamentals. After what seemed like decades of managers who manage from afar, it’s nice to see a manager say, that they guys aren’t going to get your message and style by osmosis. Not sure if it was a direct dig at Lou, but it tells you that their was a lack of communication.

    • paulcatanese

      Tony,I agree with you and sometimes as we all know,Managers have a feeling of power and designate those jobs to others.It just dosen’t get done. I like what Quade is doing so far. The end result is his responsebility and he realizes that.Kind of changing my mind about him a little.

      • Patrick_Schaefer

        Agree with you both it also helps build a better player/manager relationship and under Pinella we saw the worst fundamental baseball I have seen in a long time. Quade can work with them and stress it, but it is ultimately up to the players to perform hopefully they can show drastically improve on defense and poor bunting.

  • Tony

    Good news!

    “According to Bruce Levine, Augie Ojeda will not be with the organization unless he beats out Darwin Barney in the spring.
    Same goes for Todd Wellemeyer, unless he beats out six or seven guys he will not be with the organization after Spring Training. ”

    Neither should make the 25 man roster…

    • Jim_Tinley_Park

      Yes, that was true before Levine mentioned it. They were just plan B type of guys if Barney and one of the pitchers looked horrible or got hurt. Some people were freaking out that Ojeda might make the 25 man roster.

      • Tony

        You don’t really believe that…the vets have the upper hand, with JH.

        Barney will have to outplay Ojeda, by leaps and bounds to keep Augie from going to Wrigley.

        • Gary J

          I really believe it – but we’ll see what happens in a couple of weeks.

    • The Maven

      What Levine forgot to mention is that Barney will have to hit .985 with 25 HR’s in spring training to beat out Ojeda. Wellemeyer will not make the squad unless he keeps his ERA under 25.00 ; )

      • BosephHeyden

        Yeah, the Wellemeyer thing makes me a bit eased about pitching…but yeah, as we all know, Augie is gonna be a Cub this year. I’m fine with Reed Johnson making the team and can live with Looper or one of the other “dead arms” taking a long relief spot in the pen, but Augie’s best days are behind him.

      • paulcatanese

        Good shot,I like it.

  • Neil

    From Carrie Muskat:
    Grabow on knee brace: “Can I pitch without it? I’m not going to take that chance.” He faces hitters Sunday 1st time since 6/28

    Another reminder to follow the CCO’s twitter feed during the day. It is located on the right side of the main page

    • Richard Hood

      That is an indication that he does not trust the knee. It really should not be that big of a deal yet. As long as he is able to still drive off the mound with the brace he should be ok.

      Don’t really need him at the beginning so is Grabow needs to take another month or so to get his knee healthy it might be better for us in the long run. Maybe we can give Maine a shot at staying with the big club. With the way he pitched late last year he deserves a chance.

      I personally would rather have Grabow healthy and throwing right than let him go out there early and kill us because he isn’t throwing strikes. I think he has a lot to prove this spring and he will work it out.

      • paulcatanese

        Richard I agree with you,let him rest.

        • Richard Hood

          Don’t know if rest is what he needs. It has been 9 months since the surgery he needs work and to develop trust. The only way that can happen is to push it everyday. If it comes down to starting on the DL and stay in extended ST to get strength and trust back so you do not screw up your motion. That is kind of what I thought he should do.

          I agree that he needs to be monitored closely to make sure he does not favor the knee and cause alot of mechanical problems with his delivery.

      • cubtex

        I agree Richard! Bring Grabow along slowly and throw Maine out there a lot this spring! With probably an all right handed starting rotation the Cubs need at least 3 lefties in the pen! I think Maine makes the team out of spring.

    • paulcatanese

      Neil,really not good news from Grabow. Unconciously he will favor that knee,It may affect his stride in turn alter his arm slot and Bing, a sore arm or worse. He should make (or the Cubs) his knee is fine before trying to throw 100%.Remember Dizzy Dean?

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    I love Onieri Fleita’s comments on LeMahieu. He has the defense down and can play 3 infield spots although his range isn’t the greatest at SS. He can hit for average, and if his power comes along like many are predicting he could be up soon. Vitters is still only 21 and still has plenty of upside tons. LeMahieu is 22 will be 23 in July, he is more developed overall has a nice line drive swing, doesn’t walk much, but doesn’t strikeout much either. They started working with LeMahieu towards the end of last season on his power swing( pulling the ball) he added 20 pounds of muscle, I can’t wait to see how he does this year. Could he be A Ram’s replacement next season?

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Steve Clevenger page Can he beat out Hill? Someone? Anyone has to be better?
    .317/.367/.461/.828 last year at AA.

    • paulcatanese

      Patrick,he looks pretty good. Must have a good arm with that caught stealing %,I guess thats good,I’m not that up on stats.Anything over . 220 would be an improvement,better yet a revalation.I hope he draws interest,but don’t have high hopes on that one.

      • Patrick_Schaefer

        No, I don’t have high hopes either, but we can dream. Just sitting down to watch For Love of the Game.

  • paulcatanese

    From Twitter,live BP in cold,wind and rain,just an average day at Wrigley in April. That is tough to swing the bat. Any heavy ball on the inside and the hitter catches it close to the handle and their hands could sting for hours,sometimes days from a bone bruise.Johnson having to face Marmol could be his worse nightmare,however I don’t think Marmol will be throwing 100%.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    RT @Cubs Just one week until first #Cubs #SpringTraining game! Anyone planning to be in Mesa for the game vs. OAK next Sunday? about 3 hours ago

    Just one week until actual !!!!LIVE BASEBALL!!!, what we’ve been talking about all winter. So grab a tall glass of your favorite Kool-Aid and let the games begin.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    •Aramis Ramirez, Cubs: $16MM option vests if he is named MVP of either the regular season or League Championship Series, or if he is traded at some point in 2011.
    Let’s hope he is named MVP of Regular season and league championship series.