There was not a shortage of news on the first day of the Cubs Caravan. As the team moves closer to the annual convention this weekend, Theo Epstein addressed several of the hot topics surrounding his team … including the Matt Garza rumors and Kerry Wood.
The Cubs also announced a move to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Paul Maholm Jeff Bianchi was claimed off waivers by the Brewers … the Cubs claimed him off waivers in December from the Kansas City Royals.
Here’s the update including more on Matt Garza, Kerry Wood and quotes from Theo Epstein …
Theo Epstein addressed the Matt Garza rumors and indicated he would talk to Garza about the rumors during the convention.
Several teams have inquired about Garza’s availability this off-season but Epstein stated they are not shopping him and the media has made more about the trade talks than have actually taken place.
“Let’s try to downplay this. I can truly say more has happened in the media with this than has happened in reality. It has not been an everyday (thing). There’s no attempt to shop him every day. As we do with all our players, we’re kind of weighing all our options to see what’s best for the Cubs.”
Epstein said the Cubs are weighing all of their options. They think highly of Garza and believe he is a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. With that said, Epstein admitted that “sometimes it makes sense to way your option and see if you can put yourself in a better position for the long haul.”
Theo Epstein added that they are looking forward to Matt Garza being on the mound for the Cubs during the upcoming season.
The Cubs are hopeful they can keep Kerry Wood and many feel now that Wood will re-sign with the Cubs prior to the kickoff of the Cubs Convention on Friday night.
A report earlier in the week suggested Wood’s days with the Cubs were likely over. Jed Hoyer addressed the report and stated the Cubs offered Wood a substantial raise over the $1.5 million he was paid last season. Wood would like to be paid closer to market value for his services this year.
According to David Kaplan, the Cubs reached out to Wood on Tuesday night in an attempt to keep him in the organization.
The Cubs off-season program in Mesa has been renamed. What was once known as ‘Camp Colvin‘ is now called ‘Camp Bussy‘ after the Cubs’ strength and conditioning coach, Tim Buss.
Tony Campana has been working out at ‘Camp Bussy‘ and put on ten pounds of muscle. Campana focused on building his upper body strength. Several players have been out in Mesa working with Tim Buss this off-season.
Cubs Rookie Development Program
Theo Epstein is planning on introducing a rookie development program for the Cubs similar to the one he created for the Red Sox.
“When you have a lot of young players at the big-league level, often times you forget just how new they are to this whole thing — professional baseball, the responsibility that comes with it, the importance of representing the organization the right way (and) being a good teammate. Organizations that just assume that they’ll figure it out on their own make a big mistake. We’re going to teach them what’s it’s like to be a big-leaguer, set the expectations for them and give them tools on how to meet those expectations, everything from how to deal with the media to how to say ‘no’ to people off-the-field that want things from them.”
“It’s how to properly handle themselves in the hotel or out on the town. It’s an important part. You can’t make assumptions that guys know how to handle themselves. You need to work with them. You want an organization that projects the right image. To make a positive impact on the community, you have to work to get it. The players are the ones who are going to dictate how that goes. We need to support them every step of the way.”
Quotes from Theo
From Jordan Bernfield:
“I think it’s important to be open with the fans about what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, what the plan is. I think if you do that, and you’re true to your word, and you’re not trying to hide the ball, I think they’ll get in on the ground floor and come along for the ride. I just urge everyone to stay on board. When we do win, it’s going to mean a lot more to everyone whose been on the ground floor and been through the ups and downs, got to know these young players, see them come through the minor league system, watch them take their lumps a little bit at the big leagues and ultimately triumph. It means so much more if you’re along for the journey. The journey’s really what it’s all about.”
“Baseball organizations are made up of human beings. They’re just not robots who put up numbers. They’re not commodities. I know I refer to a player as an asset. That’s business speak. That’s not what I believe. They’re human beings. You can get a lot better just by getting to know guys and putting them in a position to succeed and allowing them to get to know you a little bit and building, I think, a real spirit of the organization of unity and teamwork.”
News, Notes and Rumors
Randy Wells is expecting another competitive spring with the pitching options Dale Sveum will have to choose from for his rotation. Wells would prefer to start but is willing to pitch out of the pen if that is what the Cubs need him to do.
James Russell indicated he was shocked when he found out Sean Marshall had been traded … but said he wants to step into the eighth inning left specialist role this season.
Dale Sveum will wear no. 33 this season … and Dave McKay, no. 39.
According to David Kaplan, after the Cubs sign Kerry Wood their next move should be to see what pieces they can add at below market prices.
According to David Kaplan, the Matt Garza trade talks are ongoing.
Dale Sveum said that Alfonso Soriano is the Cubs’ left fielder but admitted sometimes players have to be taken out for defensive replacements.
The Cubs paid recently signed Yasiel Balaguert a $400,000 signing bonus and right-hander Carlos Martinez a $250,000 signing bonus.
The 27th Annual Cubs Convention kicks off in just one day.
Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.
Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO