Baseball is Better … and Other Cubs News, Notes and Rumors

With the first month of the New Year dwindling down, Spring Training is not far away. Pitchers and catchers officially report to Fitch Park in less than a month (February 18) … and the Cubs front office still has a lot of work to do.

The Cubs have one arbitration eligible player that is unsigned for next season … and it is the best starter on Dale Sveum’s staff, Matt Garza. As it turns out, the arbitration figure Garza filed Tuesday was higher than the $10.255 million that was reported. Garza actually submitted a $12.5 million figure and the Cubs filed a $7.95 million number. Garza earned $5.95 million in his first season with the Cubs.

Over the last seven days there have been three minor league contracts that have been leaked to the mainstream media. The Cubs signed Alfredo Amezaga, Jason Jaramillo and Rodrigo Lopez to one-year minor league contracts that include non-roster invitations to big league camp. Lopez will receive $900,000 if he makes the team and will be paid $235,000 if he pitches in the minors during the upcoming season. Justin Berg also received a non-roster invite to Spring Training but the right-hander is recovering from Tommy John surgery and will likely not be ready to pitch in a month.

The Cubs are expected to announce the complete list of non-roster invites to big league camp next week. And speaking of Spring Training, the Cubs released their broadcast schedule for the upcoming Cactus League.

While opening a discussion for all the different ways that “Baseball Is Better“, here’s the update …

Minor League Deals
The Cubs have signed three players to minor league contracts that include non-roster invitations to Spring Training.

The Cubs agreed to a one-year minor league deal with Alfredo Amezaga last week. Amezaga hit .182/.247/.195/.442 last year in 40 big league games … 20 with the Marlins and 20 with the Rockies.

Alfredo Amezaga’s Page on Baseball-Reference

Jason Jaramillo will spend the spring competing with Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger to back-up Geovany Soto. Jaramillo dealt with injuries a year ago and played in just 23 games for the Pirates … .326/.356/.395/.751 with three doubles.

Jason Jaramillo’s Page on Baseball-Reference

During the Winter Meetings Theo Epstein said he wanted to bring back Rodrigo Lopez to provide depth for the rotation. Lopez inked a minor league deal with that includes a non-roster invite to Spring Training. Lopez signed a split contract … $900,000 for 2012 if he’s on the big league roster and $235,000 if he stays in the minors for the year.

Jim Hendry traded for Lopez last season and gave the Braves a young pitcher for him (Ryan Buchter). Lopez was 6-6 in 26 games, 13 starts, with a 4.42 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP for Mike Quade.

Rodrigo Lopez’s Page on Baseball-Reference

The Cubs have also invited Justin Berg to big league camp … but he is still recovering from Tommy John surgery.

The Cubs are expected to announce the list of non-roster invites next week. Brett Jackson and Trey McNutt should be among those on the list.

Baseball Is Better …
The Cubs’ new ad campaign is built around Theo Epstein’s introductory press conference … Baseball Is Better. The ads were created by The Brooklyn Brothers, a New York City agency.

Baseball Is Better … When the Cubs Win.

Yoenis Cespedes
The Cubs are very interested in signing Yoenis Cespedes and are expected to be in the middle of the bidding for the Cuban outfielder once he can sign with a big league team. Cespedes has started hitting after a slow start in the Dominican Winter League … and launched his first home run Wednesday night.

Geraldo Concepcion
Geraldo Concepcion has been declared a free agent and is free to negotiate a contract with any Major League team. The left-hander established residency in Mexico Tuesday after defecting from Cuba in June of 2011. The 18-year old is currently working out in the Dominican Republic.

The Cubs are one of many teams that have shown interest in Geraldo Concepcion this winter.

Cubs Spring Broadcast Schedule
The Cubs announced the full broadcast schedule for the upcoming Cactus League games. 30 of the Cubs’ 35 spring games will either be broadcast on television, radio or Internet radio … and the other five will likely be available through the opposition’s broadcast either on the Internet or XM Radio.

Pat Hughes and Keith Moreland will call three of the first four games with the first game on 720 WGN being aired on Monday, March 5. Hughes and Moreland will also stay in Arizona to call the games on March 6 and March 7.

The first televised game will be carried by WGN on March 10. WGN will televise four games and Comcast SportsNet will broadcast two more … the first coming on March 22.

The remaining Cubs’ broadcasts will be on the Internet. For the second spring in row, Len Kasper will join Smokies’ play-by-play man, Mick Gillispie, for a majority of the 20 games broadcast on Cubs.com.

The Cubs kick off the 2012 Cactus League schedule on Sunday, March 4 against the Oakland A’s at HoHoKam Park.

Click Here for Complete Spring Broadcast Schedule

News, Notes and Rumors
Marlon Byrd has dropped 40 pounds this off-season due his new martial arts workout called Muay Thai and a major change to his diet. Byrd discovered he is allergic to milk and wheat and is very close to having celiac disease.

Brett Jackson is getting ready for ‘The Show’.

Bruce Levine questioned if Alfonso Soriano would be a good fit with the Tigers.

Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it.

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Quote of the Day

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