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 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.
- According to a report from Carrie Muskat, Saturday was Mike Quade’s day. Cubs’ fans should expect a hands-on manager.
- The Cubs worked on bunting drills and Carlos Pena gave Tyler Colvin tips at first base.
- Aramis Ramirez told his skipper and the media he is 100 percent healthy. Ramirez added six to eight pounds over the off-season and said he feels great. Ramirez would like to remain with the Cubs following the season. The team holds a club option for 2012 on Ramirez worth $16 million that includes a $2 million buyout.
- Alfonso Soriano worked a lot on strengthening his legs in the off-season.
- According to the Sun-Times, the Cubs are open to making a play for Albert Pujols.
- The Cubs new battleground is right field according to the Tribune.
- During his speech to the team, Mike Quade warned the players about the media.
- Alfonso Soriano is forging forward after his mother’s passing according to a report from Cubs.com
Quote of the Day … Via 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.”