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.

BaseballIsBetter.jpg

BaseballIsBetter1.jpg

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.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the things you did." - Mark Twain

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  • Tuki790

    Soriano to the tiger even if we get a washing machine it’ll be worth it

    • Smcneil

      The washing machine doesn’t have to be in running condition either.

      • 43hopping

        Then it would be a fair trade since Soriano doen’t run either.

        • cmschube

          HIYYOOOOO

  • Tony_Hall

    I always love hearing about a player, turning it up a notch, and getting in better shape for the coming season.  For Marlon Byrd to drop 40 pounds, wow that’s a lot, shows he is extremely dedicated to having a good year, extending his career, and improving his health.

    Now, I know the other side of this is, how did a professional baseball player have 40 pounds to lose.  Good question and if you want to look at the negative side there it is, but I will say kudos to Marlon, for the off-season, and here’s to hoping it helps him take pitches, in crucial situations, instead of swing at the first pitch, as long as it is near the plate.

    • Dorasaga

      As a believer of responsible lifestyle through good diet and a fan of Thai spices, I’m very proud of Byrd, his Muay Thai, and practice to remove milk from hurting him.

  • Tony_Hall

    I am looking forward to seeing Brett Jackson play everyday.  I know the business side of the game will make us wait until June, baring a great ST, but you have to like what we have seen and heard about him so far.  Good, hard-nosed player, that wants to play baseball, refreshing to see.

  • Tony_Hall

    I know everyone thinks that the Tigers are a perfect fit for Soriano, but there are still options available that they can sign for a 1 year deal, for less money, and will give them more than a 289 OBP.   

    I know, he should hit 20+ bombs, but Victor Martinez, hit 330/380/470/850  versus Soriano’s 244/289/469/759.  VMart is not replaceable, obviously, but they just don’t need to take on a 3 year commitment to replace VMart in the lineup for 2012.

    I just wish they would…or anyone else.

    • cubs1967

      he’s not going to detroit.  damon-pena-guererro are all better fits. vmart is a 1 yr injury. sori is a 3 yr problem.

      everyone on this site nees to realize he’s staying, bat him cleanup “build up” his RBI total and hope to trade him next offseason when he only has 2 yrs left.

      byrd should be the OF team Theo is trying to trade; he has value and has 1 yr left……even if cubs eat 3M of 6.5M owed; maybe a 2b position would fit well.(and saves 3M for rickets family………to be later part of the wrigley renovation cuz it’s never gonna pass without the family putting in some moola).

      reed-saffelt-campana can play CF if bjax is not ready out of ST…….and if he is……..saffelt or campy welcome to iowa.

      • Tony_Hall

        So, we agree then that Soriano is not going to Detroit…we actually agree on something.

        • cubs1967

          yep…..if stewart does decent…meaning around .250-.260 with 18-23 homers…..keep him around for 2013.  vitters may be suited for LF in 2013…….
          THEN Sori needs to go………he’ll be in the way so either trade him or just release him…..
          BUT for 2012……hope he stays healthy, bat him clean up (the only player who could; Lahair is not gonna hit more than 15 HR and Rizzo could be up sooner than later). and “inflate” his RBI chances…and totals and try again next offseason.  6-8M for 2 yrs might be feasible for a team after 2012.
          if BJax is ready during ST……….then Bryd is really the one in the way…….if the Nats sign Fielder……they could be a qausi contender for wildcard in 2012…….especially if extended uncle bud adds a 5th team for ’12(no final answer yet)……SO Byrd would be perfect for that team for 1 yr………Harper won’t be MLB ready…..at least not until July.  Cubs eat maybe 3M(it still saved 3.5M),,,,,,,and let Reed be BJax’s righy platoon when needed.

          • Tony_Hall

            Mark this day down…I think I actually agree with everything you just wrote.

          • daverj

            Well said. Perhaps the first time you and I have agreed this offseason.

          • SuzyS

            Cubs1967…What you say makes a lot of sense…But if the Cubs can’t trade Sori then I think they will in fact release him during the 2012 season…and try to restructure his contract perhaps over a longer term that does not impact the team payroll quite as much as 18million per season does…If Ricketts is willing to eat 15 million to dump Sori…it’s not to far to eat the whole thing from there.

  • Javbed

    Despite Sorianos bad contract and declining baseball skills he is still a major league ballplayer and arguably the team’s biggest offensive threat after Castro.

    Would you want Soriano the baseball player on your team? Probably not. But from all accounts he’s a solid guy in the twilight of his career who scored a monster contract.

    If he stays and produces and the Cubs play competitive ball this summer I hope all of you who have been trashing the guy keep it down cuz you will probably be the first ones praising the front office for holding on to him.

    Give the guy a break. I know he’s a millionaire and ‘losing it’ as a ballplayer but all this negative energy about wanting him out is getting old.

    My 2 cents.

    Go Cubs and Long Live Baseball

    • Anthony

      I don’t think anyone is angry with Soriano, the man. They may be angry at the Clown who offered the stupid contract, because any half-decent baseball guy knows “the legs are first to go”, and that tool was what made Soriano special in the past.

      • cubtex

        You’re right!!!! What kind of GM would give a long term contract to a speed guy, outbid every team by 15 mil for a Japanese pitcher in a blind bid, and give a long term contract to a pitcher who had awful numbers at Fenway Park……Wait a minute…….I think this guy is our current GM. :)

        • cc002600

          oh yea. That’s right. The same guy who won 2 World series is the last 8 years ??????

          Oh yea. THAT guy.

          • cubtex

            Yea…the same guy who abandoned ship on the Red Sox and screwed them with all those bad contracts and now they can’t make any moves because of the luxury tax…..Yea…that guy hahaha

          • Tony_Hall

            And all they have from his era are 2 World Series Championships.

            I sure hope he ruins our beloved Cubs franchise that way :)

          • cubtex

            Haha. You sure wear that out :) As I said he screwed the Red Sox and got out just like the captain of that Italian cruise ship :) They are now behind the Yankees and the Rays.

          • Tony_Hall

            And you wear out bad mouthing him.

            Since 2003

            Red Sox 2 
            Cardinals 2

            1 each 
            White Sox
            Phillies
            Yankees
            Giants
            Marlins

            Seems like they aren’t trailing anyone…where it counts, in their Theo era.

          • cubtex

            John Lackey. Dice K. Carl Crawford. No………not many gm’s have whiffed as bad as that. :)

          • Tony_Hall

            Dice K had some good years before injuries.  Lackey had some great years before injuries.

            Crawford is a bust yet, let’s see how he does this year.

            And yet he was still the GM when they won 2 World Series Championships.  Can’t take those away, no matter how much you bad mouth him.

          • Tony_Hall

            Alfonso Soriano, Milton Bradley, Carlos Pena, Cliff Floyd, Jacque Jones, need I go on. 

          • cc002600

            Wouldn’t count on it. Yanks are getting REAL old…..and you talk about Red sox bad contracts ?? are you kidding me ??  Look at yanks…

            How ‘s that AROD contract looking ??  LOL

            Burnett ??
            Jeter ??

            Please.

          • cc002600

            oh please stop bringing up those little things like World championships. 

            The haters on here are more concerned about how he saddled them with bad contracts. 

            Funny, but I wasn’t aware that other GM’s NEVER make any bad moves. It must be just that Theo guy, who won the 2 of the last 8 WS. What a bum.

            LOL

          • cc002600

            Oh, you mean the GM who had his team winning 90+ games every year ?

            And just wondering, how many
            other GM’s around can say they won 2 of the last 8 WS ??

            It won’t take you long to count to ZERO !!!!

            Gee, he must be terrible.

            LOL

          • cubtex

            Hahahaha. I touched a nerve. Yea #2 payroll in all baseball during his tenure. John Lackey wasted year. Carl Crawford now out. Dice K out. How much money has this guy wasted? Be real! Now they are handcuffed because of him. They have no RF. They have a weak back end of the rotation….all because of Boy Wonderless. And by the way….A GM should win 2 WS with the 2nd highest payroll in baseball under his guidance :)

          • Tony_Hall

            1st highest payroll in the same time period.
            Yankees

            1 WS 
            Championship

            So much for thoughts on what a GM should win with a high payroll.

          • cubtex

            So you believe a high payroll doesn’t help? Is that what you are saying?

          • Tony_Hall

            Of course it does, but it doesn’t guarantee anything.  And just because you have one of the highest payrolls, doesn’t mean you “should” win…like you always say it does.  Many high payroll teams, have bad years.

          • cubtex

            Over 10 years with the Red Sox payroll under Theo….it’s as close to a guarantee as you can get. Have a good weekend!

          • cc002600

            I wasn’t aware that spending big dough guarantees WS rings.

            I must have missed that memo.

            and so did Brian Cashman.

            and Ned colleti. 

            and Hendry.

            and Mets GM

            LOL

          • cc002600

            WHO CARES ??

            Did they win ???

    • Tony_Hall

      And this wasn’t any of us on here.

      RT @The_Heckler Records reveal Alfonso Soriano actually named Wally Whiff, age 58 http://t.co/bXB61SIO less than a minute ago 

      • Javbed

        Haha, nice! okay okay I was jus sayin …

        Long live baseball

    • GaryLeeT

       There is a long list of why I hate Soriano the player, but stating that he will refuse to sign off on a trade, unless he goes to a contender, tells me all I need to know about Soriano the man. If he stays it will not because the front office held on to him, it’s because they could not get rid of him. He better accept any trade the Cubs are able to orchestrate, because if he’s here this season, the boos will rain down on him like never before. And rightly so.

      • daverj

        Why should he accept any trade unless it’s the right situation for him? It’s his right to say “no” and I wouldn’t lose any respect for him if he declined a trade. I don’t like soriano as a player, but there is nothing I’ve heard or read about him that would make me question what kind of man he is.

        • Tony_Hall

          One reason is even he has to know he can extend his playing days, if he goes to the AL, where he can DH.  Just because he is guaranteed to be paid for 3 more years, doesn’t mean he will actually get to play 3 more years.  

        • GaryLeeT

          Becuase it’s the right thing to do for the tieam. I know, a dead and burried concept. So he’ll do what’s best for Soriano. However, the ones paying his salary are well within their rights to voice their displeasure  the “conventional” way. 

          • ChadAudio

            I agree with daverj.  His contract allows Soriano to make the decision.  That’s why he signed this contract.  There is no reason to boo him because of the contract the Cubs gave him.

          • GaryLeeT

             You boo him because he did not live up to the contract he signed. It’s not like I am alone on this sentiment. There are plenty of other voices at Wrigley to back up my position, even if they are not here.

          • Chadaudio

            It was never in debate that you and plenty of others deem it appropriate to boo Fonsie… that’s your take. I just disagree.

      • Anthony

        dead legs are tough to deal with without the Juice

        Timing is everything, except for Alfonzie, and the cream and clear

        Who ever was the Ignor amus on his contract better be retired, feeling lucky from the dodged bullet

  • notcubbiewubbie

    best news of the day pena signs with rays another jim hendry loser tailights.

    • J Daniel

      And they got Cub prospects!

  • RynoTiger

    Nice job by the Rays GM to get Carlos Pena for about $2.5 million less after coming off of a slightly better performance for the Cubs than he did the Rays in 2010. Pena’s deal is reported to be about $7.25 million. 

    And it makes you chuckle that Hendry gave him $10million after coming off of a slightly lesser performance with Tampa.

    • John_CC

      Un-Be-LIEV-able!!  As Ronnie would say.

    • J Daniel

      Yes, you just have to laugh!!!

    • ChadAudio

      Doesn’t the Pena deal reflect the market change from this year compared to last year?
      Meaning, Pena was worth more last year because the 1B free agent market was better (for firstbasemen) then it is this year.  I think the only options laster year were the usual, Adam LaRoche, Aubrey Huff, Ty Wiggington, etc… Compare that to this year, where Prince Fielder still hasn’t signed.
      I may not remember this correctly but I think Pena, for that amount, probably wasn’t that inflated when the Cubs paid it… it was probably a fair price for the market at the time.

      • cubtex

        100% accurate statement. The market changes year to year based on supply and demand. Look at Madson. The Reds got a bargain because of the other closers took the jobs away from the teams who would pay top dollars for a closer. What Matt Garza was worth last year changes this year. Very accurate statement and common sense.

  • paulcatanese

    40 lbs is a lot to lose since last October for anyone let alone an athlete. I would hope it doese’t lead to further complications.
    Most Doctors would support what I just posted.
    If done in a healthy manner, he will certainly benefit. Even though I would like to see him gone, I applaud the effort(if healthy).

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    … And the Cubs get another draft pick with Pena signing with the Rays. That’s two sandwich picks … One for Aramis and one for Pena.

  • paulcatanese

    The Pena signing with Tampa is good news for him. I know the Cubs will miss his glove, but not the strikeouts.
    He did have a decent year (for him) last year and should be happy in Tampa, I wish him well, glad he found a home that wasn’t in Chicago.

    • ChadAudio

      Well said Paul.

    • cubtex

      I know you will miss him Paul :)

      • paulcatanese

        Absolutly, don’t know what I will do with all the posters I have. :)

        • cubtex

          Haha

        • Anthony

          paul, would love to share more

  • matthew8510
  • jw

    Cespedes home run..the swing has a little bit of Albert in it…looks like a frame that can deliver power…can he manage movement and speed and how smart a hitter is he?

    • paulcatanese

      JW, don’t really know the answer to you’re question, but with the media coverage, I am sure we will find out. They seem to be covering almost every pitch and at bat that he has.
      I expect that soon we will all know what he had for breakfast.

      • jw

        I doubt we’ll know if he had any juice with it.

        • Anthony

          Centipede may be a good man, or a bad man, we don’t know

          It is real tough incognito

          • jw

            In American baseball all that matters is you don’t get caught until you’ve got the villa. And most fans don’t care if you have bragging rights over the rivals

  • Cory

    Baseball is better without Z throwing a fit

  • Breeden

    Baseball is better when you don’t have to mortgage your home for a ticket.

    • Anthony

      follow the American minors like I do, don’t give a hootcrap about the foreigners

      If these clowns running MLB teams are so disenchanted with our US guys, then piiiis on it all, and just sign all the f”in Cubans

      dragged f”in back in

    • Cory

      Indeed sir

  • Anthony

    PROCLAMATION:

    Sign every frickin foreign born player and cut all the white and black kids born in this country called the USA. They ain’t worth Shiiit compared to denizens of the Barrios, where they breed cattle and seek gold, in the form of a Centipede or a Dr. Faustus Carmona.

    Then, they ask many of you to pay to watch all your money leave the county.

    Fuuuuuuuck professional baseball, and stop the fruuuuckinin system from getting any worse.

    On a lighter note, sign Cespedes, Sole””””, and every other injected piece of shiiiiiiit from across the pond……………….

    Who has the Tylenol?

    Abolish the MLB Draft, what purpose does it serve?

    Everyone of these guys have a snowballs chance in HEK

    I hate the game I once loved.

    • Cory

      Damn bro, how do u really feel??

      • Anthony

        let down, and betrayed, obviously

        • Cory

          I hear ya man, just tryin to lighten it up a bit

    • Tony_Hall

      Dude…there is no reason to use that language on this site. 

      Why do you torture yourself…everyday, like this, anyway?  You hate, seemingly, everything about major league baseball.

      • Coolpdxcubsfan

        Dr. Hall, Dr. Hall, paging Dr. Hall.
        Patient Anthony losing it in blog
        Emergency optirectomy needed

      • ottawabob

        Lots of anger on here tonight!!……..must be the heavy snowfall today.

    • RynoTiger

      hmm…Xenophobia?