Day Nine of Camp ‘Q’ … Cubs Smile for the Camera and Other Notes

The first pitch of the Cubs’ 2011 Cactus League Schedule is four days away …

Tuesday was photo day at Fitch Park as Q’s crew prepares for the start of the exhibition season. According to a report from Carrie Muskat, the Cubs roster is nearly set and there are only two spots, among the position players, that need to be filled … backup infielder and fifth outfielder.

Fernando Perez, Reed Johnson and Brad Snyder are among the players the Cubs will look at for the fifth outfielder’s spot. Augie Ojeda and Darwin Barney are among the candidates to be the Cubs extra infielder. The competition for both spots could last for the duration of camp.

Carlos Zambrano talked to the media Tuesday for the first time after finding out he would not be starting on Opening Day. Zambrano discussed the anger management sessions he completed last October and declared himself “cured.”

Here’s the update from Mesa …

Carlos Zambrano
The Big Z spoke with the media a day after he found out he would not get the ball on Opening Day. Carlos Zambrano was disappointed but handled Mike Quade’s decision professionally.

From Carrie Muskat:

“My problem [doesn’t have to do with] being a good person. The problem I have to solve is when I get upset on the field. I think my problem is after I cross those lines. When somebody makes an error or I make an error, that’s my problem. I have to focus on that this year. Off the field, I consider myself a nice guy and people can talk about that. I don’t like to talk about myself.”

Zambrano completed his anger management sessions last October and admitted that they helped.

“It did work, and believe me, that was an experience that I can take through the years. Maybe in the future, I can be a pitching coach or whatever, 20 years from now, and I can speak to young kids about what happened in my career and the experience.”

Chattin’ with Bruce Levine
Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his Tuesday chat on ESPNChicago.com. Here are the highlights …

  • Carlos Zambrano has shown all positive signs in camp so far and has been supportive of his teammates.
  • The Cubs talked about trading Marlon Byrd over the winter. The Cubs “are paper thin” in the outfield and Levine does not think the Cubs will move an outfielder right now.
  • The last two spots in the rotation is an open tryout. Casey Coleman is in the mix and everyone will get an opportunity. Levine likes Coleman but feels he’ll have to pitch almost perfectly to get a rotation spot.
  • Andrew Cashner is definitely not starting the year in the minors. Cashner will get stretched out as a starter. The Cubs want Cashner’s arm in the big leagues either as a starter or as a reliever.
  • Levine would go with Randy Wells and Carlos Silva in the rotation to start the year. He would send James Russell to Iowa to start and put Cashner in the pen.
  • The Cubs plan to use Tyler Colvin and Jeff Baker as backups for Carlos Pena with Baker and Blake DeWitt slotted as the backups for Aramis Ramirez. Darwin Barney or Augie Ojeda will begin the year as Starlin Castro’s backup.
  • Right now, the Cubs do not have any money for another veteran infielder.
  • Levine thinks the Cubs can win 85-88 games this season.
  • The Cubs feel D.J. LeMahieu will be a Major League second baseman in the net few years.
  • Scott Maine makes the team out of camp if James Russell is in the rotation or is sent to Triple-A.

News, Notes and Tweets
Rudy Jaramillo sees progress in hitters according to a report from ESPNChicago.com. Jaramillo thinks Alfonso Soriano has a better foundation this year that will hopefully lead to more consistent production at the plate. Soriano is “definitely going in the right direction” according to Jaramillo.

Bruce Levine reiterated Tuesday that Derrek Lee did not work with Rudy Jaramillo at any point last season. Aramis Ramirez was not receptive to Jaramillo’s tutledge until the second half of last season. Ramirez is working with Rudy Jaramillo this spring.

Tyler Colvin continued working at first base Tuesday and will work both in the outfield and at first when the games begin. Mike Quade said Colvin could invest as much time as he would like at first base as long as Colvin does not let his defense in the outfield suffer. Colvin could play first base at least once a week, if not more, this spring.

Carlos Zambrano, Matt Garza and Kerry Wood are scheduled to throw batting practice Wednesday. Zambrano and Garza are expected to pitch in the Cactus League opener.

Reed Johnson faced Carlos Marmol in batting practice Tuesday. Marmol plunked Johnson on his left elbow last Sunday. Johnson wore an elbow guard during BP Tuesday … Marmol did not hit his teammate this time around.

Fernando Perez’s speed grades as an “eight” on baseball’s scouting scale according to Mike Quade. Perez is trying switch-hitting again after hitting only from the right side last year.

Tim Sheridan (Boys Of Spring) posted a few pics of photo day at Fitch Park. The team wore the dress whites for the first time this spring.

Randy Wells liked the message Tom Ricketts delivered to his team last Saturday.

Dusty Baker made headlines for all the wrong reasons Tuesday. While Mike Quade is excited about being the Cubs’ manager, Dusty Baker said he was “dumped on” during his last season with the Cubs. Click here for the entire report from Jon Paul Morosi.

Wrigleyville West
According to a report from the East Valley Tribune, the Cubs plan on building their new Spring Training complex before the commercial district that is a part of the project.

WrigleyvilleWest-pub.jpgTodd Ricketts told the Tribune that the stadium is the team’s first priority. Construction is expected to begin late this year. The Cubs are targeting opening the facility in 2013. Recent reports have indicated that the Cubs’ first Spring Training games in the new complex would not be until 2014.

The family would like the new complex to feature the same dimensions as Wrigley Field but it will not be a replica. Todd Ricketts told the Tribune that the Cubs new facility might not be as lavish as the newer parks in the area “because the Cubs want to focus more on the fundamentals: training the team to win.”

Click Here for the full article from the East Valley Tribune
Rendering from Boys Of Spring

Video from Mesa

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO
The CCO is now on Facebook

Well, there’s the update … and it’s almost time for the exhibition games to begin.

Quote of the Day

"Baseball is all I ever wanted. I could eat, sleep, and dream baseball." - Smoky Joe Wood

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  • Dorasaga

    I think Baker, an ex-manager of the Cubs, took an unusual beating. He’s not solely responsible for the failures that was the Cubs of 2004, 2005, and oh, 2006, either due to player injury due to fast-tracked overwork or those managerial transactions.

    GM Hendry does.

    I mean, com’on, a dump in front of his dugout and racial letters? Cubs fans had turned to a centennial low since they cursed and threw bottles on Jewish players back in the early 1900s.

    I don’t like Baker because he sounds arrogant. But it’s not a sin. Those who don’t act strong and believe himself, at all time, simply cannot stick around the Big too long.

    Now, I found this comment a reaction to their bad blood, between the Cubs media/critics and Baker:

    ” ‘They turn over their managers pretty quick,’ Baker observed. ‘They don’t stick with anybody for a period of time, because everybody’s counting…”

    Take it or leave it, managers, it’s your job to be fired. The GMs and owners who played low-balls won’t fire themselves. Someone else, not them, has to be blamed. Look around the league. The DBacks, Nats, the Royals, the Mets. They’ve been hiring and putting managers out of their jobs in a year or two like it’s no other’s business. Their’s no guild or “manager’s association” to protect these poor souls from being scapegoated.

    That being said, Baker is still Baker. He keeps rapping on bad Cubbie behaviors and how he took his toil; it’ll be good for the rivalry between Cincy and our Wretched North Siders.

    • Patrick_Schaefer

      I read that article yesterday, I think it is time for you to move on Mr. Baker. Your the manager of the Reds and have been for awhile, so why do you feel like you still have to talk bad about the Cubs and fans after 5 years?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

        Actually when I read that article yesterday I was think that someone was full of the same stuff that he was claiming what dropped in front of him. If this had happened he would have brought it up when Dusty was screaming racism at anyone that would listen when he got fired.

        Dusty getting fired had nothing to do with race. It had to do with mismanagement and a lack of player control. Guess what Dusty there is no one to blame for that but the guy in the mirror.

        • Dorasaga

          Agreed, racism has nothing to do with Baker being part of the Cubbie occurrence. But regardless of his miscues, any human being SHOULD NOT BE racially insulted. This is especially unforgivable, coming from Cubs fans.

          Stay Classy, and teach the same to your neighbors, fella!

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

            It still goes back to weather Dusty is credible. He pulled the same statements in SF. Didn’t fly there either. He claimed that he was getting racist hate mail there and Bonds came to the fan bases rescue saying he was full of it.
            If he did receive racist letters and threats he should have turned them into the authorities not sit on them for 5 years then mention them in a ST article.

  • Tony_Hall

    The rotation will be the most fun roster battle to watch this ST. I think it is telling that Coleman will have to outpitch his counterparts to win a spot, but I wouldn’t count the guy out.

    I don’t get the handling of Cashner. If he doesn’t win a rotation spot, they will put him in the bullpen. I get that he has a electric arm, and the “win now” attitude” is happening with JH, needing a winning year, but I don’t get why you would bounce the kid to the bullpen, if you want him to be a starter. If an injury happens, he won’t be stretched out and would get passed by someone else. So my question is, Is this the ST that decideds Cashner’s future? He is going to a starter or reliever based on this spring? Seems like a strange way to handle a young pitcher. I know he coudl pitch on the bullpen all year, and then be in the rotation next year, but many, many times, once pitchers go to the bullpen, it is very hard to get out of it.

  • Tony_Hall

    Wrigleyville East – Am I missing something?

    I am hearing complaints, that they are building the field first, and retail areas second? Why would you do it the other way around? I know, you want them both done at the same time. In 5 years will it matter??

    And then hearing complaints that it won’t be as lavish as some of the other complex’s, that they are concentrating on the fundamentals, and the training aspect. Good for them. In today’s day and age, lavish is out. Stick to the basics, and don’t overspend on outlandish comforts (ie. Yankee Stadium).

    I know the Ricketts have had some missteps, but getting passed and building a new ST complex is a good thing.

    Will it be perfect? NO

    Would people who have no idea of how complex a project it is, find fault in it? Absolutely, but these same people, if they have ever build even just a house, would know that it is hard to get it perfect.

    • cubs1967

      and the Rockies and D’backs in their new field this year and the Sox/Dodgers last year in Glendale did not concentrate on training and the fundamentals????………please…..read between the lines……drink a few less ounces of the cubby blue Kool-Aid.
      PK McCaskey does not have the money for WW; even in 2014 nor money for cost overruns which is on them…….
      Yes……ther retail portion should be done, becuz if you leave the game and their is nothing around to do……off to Tempe, Scottsdale,and Old Town…….and Mesa loses all that tax money; which the Ricketts agreed to build.
      Nice integrity!

      • Tony_Hall

        Wow!! It’s been awhile since anyone accussed me of drinking the Cubbie Blue Kool-Aid.

        Do you really know what was agreed to and to be done by when? None of us really do.

        Once again, in 5 years will it really matter what was done and by when. This is a long term deal.

    • Gary J

      I’m with you Tony. The Ricketts shelled out a fortune to buy the team and then were faced with a foundation and infrastructure in the organization that was in shambles simply because the Trib didn’t care abtou that stuff because they would be selling.

      They’ve got plans for a new complex in Mesa – which is needed. If they take an extra year to get the retail area in place, so be it. I don’t see why it’s a big deal that the owners of the Cubs are focusing on (gasp) the Cubs first.

      They took and funneled more money into scouting, international development, the minors in general – which everyone is pointing at constantly as a fundamental flaw of the Cubs over the past few decades.

      They are putting $200M (more than the payroll) into fixing up and improving Wrigley before it literally falls down on their heads.

      And with all that, people are pointing at the fact that the retail area will take a little longer to build as an example of how these owners don’t have integrity? Please.

      The article talks about how the Cubs are working with the folks in Mesa to make sure things aren’t rushed and are done the right way – basically learning from the lessons from the DBacks and Rockies recent complexes. Things were rushed to market and in hindsight better planning would have benefited things immensely int he long run.

      This project in the long term will boost things around there and is a MAJOR improvement over the way things are currently with the Cubs spring complex. Hohokam is across the street from a cemetery for crying out loud.

      This is something that will be there for decades – give them the time to do it right.

      • cubs1967

        get your facts straight; the Ricketts are not putting 200M into Wrigley.
        They asked for Chicago taxpayer/bond money to improve it; big damn difference then saying they are putting money into it. Please, there is no integrity when a new owner shows up; raises tix prices 2 yr running, lowers payroll, hasn’t sign 1 damn foreign prospect (but says they are), asks for $99M in public funds from Mesa, AZ and then asks Chicago and the bankrupt state of Illinois for another $200M; $300M total; NONE of it their money, and can’t build a retail area for the site in Mesa; which was not explained that way when the “rich” owners asked for a handout.

        18 months to build a spring training complex in a non-snow state is plenty of time; they don’t want to come up w/ money in 18 months ; instead feed us a line of BS about not being built the right way???—they built 2 complexes for the Rocks/D’backs; the Cubs only need 1???

        How about I go buy a brand new home; and them tomorrow i call my neighbors and say I can’t afford the $100K rehab ???….so please help. Really………what are ya gonna say??

        Ricketts did the same thing………any fool knew that the $845M only bought the Cubs name; that the North side and Mesa side dumps; er stadiums needed alot of work………so why again did MLB and Selig approve them when they don’t have the funds??……especially when Cuban and 1 other bidder were above 1B??

        sorry, NO sympathy for this group……buyer beware, Mr Ricketts.

        ya can’t fool all of the people all of the time; except for a few on this site.

        • cmschube

          So, you’re saying that if you were the Ricketts’ family, you’d pay for all this stuff yourself? Because it really sounds like you’re chastising them for asking for some monetary assistance. Even the lavish Steinbrenner Field was paid for with help from a Hillsborough bed tax. If you think the only team that asks for money is the Cubs, then you, sir, need to drink the Kool-Aid. Man, the cynicism on this board sometimes is almost ridiculous!

          • cubs1967

            the stupidity gets me on this site or the lack of adult focus as to the purpose of a column…………
            my response was to the previous poster stating the Ricketts were putting $200M into Wrigley……they aren’t putting in any!…good to have the wrong facts nor did I ever say they shouldn’t ask for it; but don’t expect $300M from taxpayers in a bankrupt state and worse economy in 70 yrs and not a dime from the owners except a small retail area in Mesa; which they cannot even do at the same time as the stadium.

            geez………..gotta spell some things out for some peopple I guess.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Richard-Hood/100000706523521 Richard Hood

            Actually what they asked for was the money that would equal to the entertainment tax break that both the bears and sox get but the Cubs have to pay 13%. If you look back at what it is they want. It is a fair playing field. The only team that has not used public money for remodels or a new stadium is the Cubs.Even Boston stuck public money for all the remodel work a couple years ago.

          • Gary J

            Thanks for that Richard – I don’t live in Chicago and don’t read the papers there so most of what I get in the way of Cubbie news is from the CCO (I’ve said it may times but thanks again Neil!!!).

            I was indeed under the impression that they were paying it out themselves, but I don’t hold it against them for going that direction. I went and found a few articles (now that I knew to look) and what you put forth was a good synopsis.

            Saw a couple of quotes from one article though…

            “…the family said it will spend about $200 million of its own money to redevelop land around Wrigley Field, which will create jobs and future sales taxes.”

            Also that they put about $10M (of their money) into Wrigley this last off season but that a long term renovation is needed… which is something I think we can all agree is true.

            So I was off on the money they were planning on spending this next year – but not long term.

            And thanks also for posting a comment without implying the poster that you’re correcting is stupid… or outright saying it for that matter.

    • paulcatanese

      Agree with you Tony,and really the bottom line in Chicago is PUT A WINNER out and they could play in a sandlot and people would come. I do not like some of the new parks that are out there,but some improvements are needed at Wrigley and I think they will be addressed. I think as you,one thng at a time as the Ricketts have had a lot thrown at them initialy. .

  • Tony_Hall

    I hope that Rudy does have a positive effect on Soriano in his second year, with the Cubs. It is really disturbing when you hear that certain guys, wouldn’t work with Rudy. Why not? I mean even if you disagree with everything he is saying, listen to him. An opposite point of view, can help you learn more about hitting.

    • paul catanese

      Tony,I hope his effect is positive the second year as well. I was really not surprised at Lee and Rami not using Rudy and had commented then, and thought that it was Rudy’s fault that they were so atrocious early last year.Gosh all the had to do was look at the tapes of themselves and they could tell that their swing was wrong and needed help. Egos are a funny thing,but when it lasts that long 1/2 of a season they are out of control. I saw where he helped Soriono and Fukudome start on their way a little last year and hope that continues now. The fact that Ramirez would commit to Rudy’s teaching may very well be a turning point for the season and it could solve one of the big IF’s for the year.

      • studio179

        You said it right. Egos are a funny thing. Some guys are trying though. Hopefully, we see good results.

  • http://twitter.com/DJacob219 Dan Jacobson

    That’s surprising that Lee didn’t work with Rudy, especially after a poor first couple months.

    • paulcatanese

      Dan,that was kind of the point I was trying to make,The swings by Lee and Rami were so so bad I thought it was Rudy’s fault,as it turned out it wasn’t but Lee and Rami’s refusal to get help. As it turned out Rudy did help Sori and Fuko as their swing more or less stabilized towars the end of the year,and Ramis also with the help. I was surprised a Lee also. Always thought of him as a real team player. And studio 179 I really agree with you.Also what will be interesting is the fight for the fifth OF spot and backup SS,I vote for Barney all the way.

  • daverj

    Looks like Wainwright may need Tommy John surgery. I hate to see a guy get hurt, but our chances to win the division just went up significantly.

    • Last_ginger

      Things just keep getting worse for the Red Birds. I already believed their season was in trouble when they didnt sign Pujols to the extension. They say it wont be a distraction but I believe itll be a huge one and now with Wainwright possibly done for the year their season just doesnt look that good.

      • studio179

        Yes, it is a shame Wainwright got hurt. Good for us. I don’t want to see someone hurt. It’s not like they have another #1 or #1A type pitcher ready and waiting. Add the constant Pujols questions (which I am already tired of hearing) and their year does look challenging.

    • paulcatanese

      David,I agree as I would like to see the Cubs win without the injury to Wainright. Don’t like to see anyone hit the DL. I believe in Carma so I sure don’t want it to bounce back and bite the Cubs. I knowyou don’t mean it that way,but you are right,it does increase the Cubs chances.

      • Gary J

        To me this is karma going back in the other direction – I have a buddy who is a Cards fan that hammered me relentlessly when both Wood and Prior went down as our front of our rotation when we were the front runners in the division. I’m sure I’m not the only person this happened to.

        But I agree with you guys – it’s not how I would wish it to play out. The old cliche is that injuries are a part of the game though. The Cubs have had their fair share over the last few years… Wood and Prior… Soriano getting the knee issues right after we signed him and robbing him of his speed on the bases… Rami being on the DL several times (unlucky with the shoulder thing).

        It happens.

        • paulcatanese

          You know Gary I got the same thing when I was living in Chicago from all the White Sox fans as I lived on the far south side,so I understnd.One good thing,you have taught me how to spell karma,not carma. On current issues I did notice that Soriono was swinging the bat a lot better the last half of the year,he wasn’t chasing as much. If they get off to a good start, maybe?

          • Gary J

            Speaking of karma – anyone else read the article on the Reds and comments about Wainwright that popped up in the twitter feed????

            http://bit.ly/idYdWW

            Holy cow – talk about classless – if I read tomorrow that Jonny Gomes got hit in the head by a flying bat I wouldn’t be surprised.

            What he said is worse than stealing Jobu’s rum – and it’s very bad to steal Jobu’s rum….. very bad.

          • paulcatanese

            Gary,read it agree,the guy should be in theNFL as a linebacker standing over the QB after crushing him and jumping around and pointing to the sky,totaly classless.

  • cc002600

    Also on Wainwright. Think about this for second. Recovery time for TJ surgery is usually about 18 months, which means he would miss the next 2 seasons, not just this year. Wow !!!

  • Calicub

    hopefully colvin getting reps in at first bar will get him more playing time in the trust season. Platoon with fuko in thend first hajj when fuko if hot then find marlon a day off then sori in left and finally pena at first. This could give colvin.give days a week plus keep the hot hand with fuko also getting about five starts

    • Calicub

      Lots of errors I appologize I’m on my phone

      • paulcatanese

        Ha,ifyou think you made mistakes, you haven’t read any of my posts, and I don’t have a phone.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    DO NOT CLICK ON THE LINK IN THE RIGHT SPORTS CRACKLE POP.
    Cubs have an interesting marketing….
    It was trying to put malware on my computer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    Very good article talks about the big picture for the Cardinals for this year and years to come it’s not very encouraging if you are a cardinals fan! I love it. Not that Wainwright got hurt but that this year and beyond looks dismal for the Cardinals according to Ken Rosenthal……. http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/Adam-Wainwright-injury-St-Louis-Cardinals-tommy-john-possible-022311

    • Woggins1

      Type your comment here.Patrick, a Cardinal decline really does not surprise me….It’s no mistake that the Reds are rising and the Cards
      chances are looking less likely…It’s all in having a good GM…(Walt Jockity)…along with health and a little luck.
      Same reason our season would be a success as a .500 team…(Jim Hendry)
      The Cubs are still no better in the long run with Wainright gone…the goal is not just the division….it’s to win the World Series…and (in a down year) be like Boston was last year…on a consistant basis.

      That takes long term vision and a shrewd GM…Hendry cannot be accused of either.

      • Patrick_Schaefer

        The Cardinals farm is bare. Carpenter is getting up there, the team has an option on him for next year but with a bad farm and pujols possibly leaving, he could be traded for prospects if the cards are out of it. Wainright is out for awhile an his option may not be picked up!

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    I think that both Braden Looper and Todd Wellemeyer do really have a good chance to be starters this year. Just not for the Cubs, But the Cardinals will be looking for starting pitching since Wainwright is sidelined, Maybe we can trade them Carlos Silva lol.

    • paulcatanese

      I would like to agree with you Patrick,but what was the last trade St Louis made with the Cubs? Wasn’t it Miles? And Silva Bullet won’t bring all that much. Like the idea of Looper and Wellemeyer though.

      • Patrick_Schaefer

        I was joking about Silva! The Cards will be looking for pitching though if either Looper or Wellemeyer are cut one of them might get picked up by St. Louis.

  • The Maven

    As a long time critic of Derek Lee, this news does not surpirse me.

    • fryegye

      As a long time supporter of DLee, this news does not surprise me. DLee too often rode the “I’m always a slow starter” train. You say a thing often enough and loud enough and eventually you will always believe it.

      I’ll still miss DLee, but for some unjustified reason, I think Pena on a make good contract will make really good.

      • The Maven

        Vive La Differance!

    • paulcatanese

      I agree from watching him last year, no-one had a bigger hole in his swing. I wasn’t a long time critic of Lee,but I sure became a permanent one last year.

  • Patrick_Schaefer

    http://chicago.cubs.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110223&content_id=16713354&vkey=news_chc&c_id=chc

    Perez is in the batting cages early and late this spring to work with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo. He will swing a heavy bat from the left to build up strength and sometimes swing a fungo to be more precise.

    Hopefully it pays off cause we need his speed and defense.