One More Week Before Cubs Camp Begins

The countdown to pitchers and catchers officially reporting to Fitch Park has hit in the one week mark. In seven days pitchers and catchers will be on the field with the first official workout of the spring.

Several of the players are already in Mesa preparing for the start of Spring Training. The long off-season is almost over.

The Cubs annual organization meetings that are usually in early November will finally take place in the coming week. The meetings were pushed to February due to all of the changes with the front office. Jed Hoyer indicated that the Cubs Organizational Meetings will take place Wednesday (February 15) and Thursday (February 16) in Mesa prior to the players’ physicals on Friday (February 17) and the first on-the-field workouts on Saturday (February 18).

Here is the update …

Alfonso Soriano
During an interview Thursday afternoon on The Carmen, Jurko and Harry Show (ESPN 1000), Jed Hoyer said “it is unlikely Alfonso Soriano will start the season with another team.”

Rumors have suggested this off-season that the Cubs’ new regime has been shopping Soriano. At one point the Cubs had reportedly spoken to eight American League teams about Soriano. The Cubs left fielder downplayed the rumors during the Cubs Convention but stated he would not waive his no-trade clause unless it was the right situation for him and his family. Soriano would agree to leave the Cubs to play for a contending team.

Hoyer said Soriano has been working hard this off-season.

The Cubs would like him to get on base a little more … and to play better defense. They are hoping that if his conditioning and health is some better that would result in better play in the field.

Theo Epstein Compensation
Larry Lucchino joined Casey Stern and Jim Bowden during Inside Pitch (MLB Network Radio/XM Radio) Friday afternoon. Bowden led off the interview by asking what the latest was on the Theo Epstein compensation issue.

Lucchino refused to say where the issue stands other than it is in Bud Selig’s hands and they are expected a resolution soon. Lucchino added that the compensation should have been settled by now. The two teams tried to reach an agreement before getting the commissioner involved. Selig has been given the parameters of the discussions the Cubs and Red Sox had prior to asking him to resolve the situation. Lucchino then caught himself and said he should not say any more right now.

Lucchino finished the discussion on the compensation issue by stating that Theo Epstein is happy in Chicago and they are happy with Ben Cherington. It is time for the Red Sox to focus on the season ahead and more on from last year.

Carlos Marmol
This just in … Carlos Marmol’s 2011 season was unacceptable.

Jed Hoyer reiterated Carlos Marmol’s performance last year was not good and the Cubs’ GM said “there’s nothing more demoralizing to a baseball team that to win for two hours and forty-five minutes and then to lose in the last ten.”

Hoyer has been told that Marmol’s slider wasn’t the same last year and the Cubs are hoping there is something mechanical that can be corrected.

Keith Law and Cubs Prospects
ESPN’s Keith Law released his list of the top 100 prospects in the game as well as his top 10 prospects lists for each team. Three of the Cubs top prospects cracked Law’s list of the top 100 … Anthony Rizzo (36), Brett Jackson (89) and Javier Baez (95).

The top 10 prospects in the Cubs’ system according to Keith Law:

1. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
2. Brett Jackson, OF
3. Javier Baez, SS
4. Trey McNutt, RHP
5. Zach Cates, RHP
6. Welington Castillo, C
7. Dillon Maples, RHP
8. Josh Vitters, 3B
9. Reggie Golden, OF
10. Matt Szczur, OF

Keith Law has always been critical of the Cubs system and prospects … and the ranking of Brett Jackson as the 89th best prospect in the game is further proof.

News, Notes and a Rumor
Tim Sheridan posted photos from Friday’s workout at Fitch … for those that are not familiar with ‘Boys of Spring‘, take a minute and check out Tim’s fine work. It is a must read.

Jed Hoyer indicated Thursday that the Cubs would be talking to Matt Garza about being part of their future. Hoyer added the Cubs need more guys like Matt Garza and if they can “work something out we’ll certainly have those discussions” about a long-term contract.

Jed Hoyer is taking four days to drive to Spring Training … and his golden retriever will be his companion for the trip. Hoyer admitted this will probably be the only year he makes the journey prior to Spring Training.

According to Jon Heyman, Edgar Renteria would be a good fit for the Cubs, Brewers or Astros. Renteria has something left according to Heyman and will play in 2012.

WGN Radio Contest

WGNSongContest.jpg

WGN Radio has asked the CCO to help promote their latest contest … write the official WGN Radio Cubs Song for the 2012 season. For those baseball fans that are also musicians this could end up being your bring break.

All entries must be submitted by February 29, 2012.

Click here for more information and the official rules from WGN Radio.

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

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO

Quote of the Day

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." - John Quincy Adams

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  • Ripsnorter1

    Yeah, Jed, let’s get on Marmol like we did Zambrano. You know, as a precursor to dumping him for a handful of garbage.

    The Cubs dumped a good pitching coach for Mark Riggins–who is not a pitching coach. Marmol has a high maintenance delivery, and he needed Rothschild. 

    Maybe Jed will trade him for some failed, former #1 prospect that’s stuck in Single A or AA. Where’s Luis Montenez now, anyway? 
    ******************************************

    I don’t think Marmol’s problem was a lack of effort. I don’t think Marmol’s problem was steroids, a bottle of booze, or an arrogant laziness. Marmol’s problems were–in numerical order–an insane and totally incompetent manager,  a pitching coach who wasn’t a pitching coach, that was timed along with a new, too big, contract.

    Let’s call this exactly what it really is:DUMPING ANOTHER CONTRACT.

    Remember, the real goal is LOSING BIG ON THE CHEAP.

    Now I think they’ll deal Marmol in a deal similar to Zambrano’s, where the Cubs pay almost all of the contract to get that failed, former #1 pick.

    • Tony_Hall

      C’mon Man, you can’t be serious.

      Marmol was overweight when he arrived to camp.  that was before he was inflicted with Q and Riggins.  

      Yes Q was Qlueless and Riggins wasn’t a major league pitching coach.  I have said before and will say it again, Rothschild must have known how to keep Marmol’s arms and legs in the right spots and it showed in Marmol inconsistent season.  

      But to say they are trying to dump his salary is crazy.  They are saying he has to turn it around because 10 blown saves is unacceptable…isn’t it?

      The goal is not losing big on the cheap, that is just ridiculous, did you want all of the players back that are gone from last year, for 1 more run at a World Series with a team that was old and overpaid and put together by JH and  was out of contention by June 1 the last 2 years, while “going for it”.

    • mike1040

      I agree Rip, although I think the majority of Marmol’s problems were moron Quade. At least 5 of those blown saves were on mr. “clap your hands and smile” Once he was left in too long and his confidence was gone, then all the other struff started happening. and yes, Riggins was in the mix there too. He is an intense competitor and with proper support and management, a lights out closer. I hope he gets his mental stuff under control, then the other rest of it will follow.

    • Aaron

      Rip,

      Normally I don’t disagree with what you say, but c’mon man…Rothschild? Really?!?!?

      While I agree that Rothschild was a decent pitching coach…he just didn’t warrant the type of leeway and contract he was receiving. At one point, he actually “earned” more than the best pitching coach in the game…Dave Duncan.

      Fact is, most on this site (including myself) couldn’t wait until Rothschild was gone. The one problem with him being gone is that the Cubs went with an even worse pitching coach in Riggins.

      I said it earlier in Spring Training last year that the Cubs should’ve traded Marmol. Boy was I prophetic or what?!?!? I noted at the time (and got blasted for it by others on this site saying it was “too early” and it’s “just Spring Training), when I said his fastball was straighter, had far less velocity (90-92 mph at the time), and his slider had no bite whatsoever.

      Folks, the cases of Marmol and Zambrano….and Lee….and you could even make the case for Dempster, are why Jim Hendry was the biggest dunce of a GM I’ve ever seen.

      Marmol=maddeningly inconsistent mechanics, but had a few really good years. He should have traded him for a haul of prospects before he extended him…but that wasn’t his style…he preferred to build with veterans.

      Zambrano=coming off a season in which he punched a teammate, he was given a ridiculous contract. Would’ve been smarter to trade him at his peak value when the Cubs already knew even before that incident with Barrett that his behavior was combustible.

      Lee=prior to his career year with the Cubs, Lee was the poster-child of inconsistent play and was very representative of the type of player Hendry would go after. So rather than trade him in an otherwise completely lost season, he gave him a contract worthy of one of the best 1B in the game at the time. My assessment might be a little unfair, considering Lee had an otherworldly season for the Cubs in 2005, and there would’ve been universal cries of foul from Cubs Nation if they traded him, but facts are facts….he got the contract at age 30 (same as Soriano I might add), and while we’ll never really know what might’ve happened if he had not sustained the wrist injury, it was NOT prudent to sign a historically inconsistent 30 year old to a multi-year deal on a BAD team…the three most important words there are “inconsistent” and “bad team”. I can guarantee you that Team Theo wouldn’t have extended any of the players I just listed because of the circumstances surrounding each of their situations.

      In fact, the only players Hendry extended that Team Theo might’ve also extended would be Dempster (possibly, but not to that large of a deal), and ARAM (thought they might’ve traded him during his deal to get max value before he hit FA again)

      • John_CC

         I have been in favor of trading Marmol since last spring.  You can’t build around a closer. Well, you can, but it’s a silly waste.

    • gary3411

       Agree Tony, no doubt he was bigger when he showed up last year. I’d say it was very possible Marmol got his new contract and then went back home and sat on the couch for 4 months until spring training. I think that has just as good a possibility of his poor play as Riggins. But, in reality, could Marmol not remember all the things Rothschild had been telling him for the years beforehand? How could all of that gone out the window, why couldn’t the same things work that did before? It’s not like Rothschild had some magic system that he did without telling Marmol how it was being done or why it was being done to get him to throw strikes.

      Anyway, I’m not sure why this is a discussion about Marmol anyway. If you go buy walks, last year he had the best control since ’08! What was the real difference between 09-10 and ’11? It wasn’t walks, it was velocity! The reason for this is unknown, at least to my knowledge. How can you go from throwing consistently 95-98 and then be throwing 89-92? The best reason I can think of is lack of offseason preparation, strength, flexibility and conditioning. Guy’s were able to have their best batting average against him because they could sit on the slider without having to worry about a 97mph fastball coming at any time. When the difference between your fastball and slider is 4-7mph, opposing hitters don’t have to look for one or the other like they had to in previous years, they could look for one and adjust to the other much, much easier.

      Hopefully, Marmol realized to get a next contract, he can’t keep pitching like he did last year, and he works hard this offseason to prove he’s not done.

  • Tony_Hall

    The roster keeps turning over, and with every move brings mixed emotions from Cub fans everywhere.

    What are they trying to do at Clark and Addison?

    Turn over this roster, to get rid of the bad players is the first job.  Second, is to try and field a team that can be as competitive as possible for 2012, while not affecting the future years.  

    Winning in 2012 is not before building a better base for this teams future.

    So where is the roster at now that a few more moves have been made to this roster.

    Batters
    Outfield – Soriano, Byrd, DeJesus, Campana, R Johnson are the 5 incumbents with Sappelt and Mather looking to knock one out to claim a spot.  If the Cubs trade Soriano or Byrd, it could open up a starting job for B Jackson, who will be watched closely in spring training, to see if they should move quicker on a trade to open up a
    spot for him by opening day.  Both Soriano and Byrd will be gone by 2013 Opening Day.

    Infield – Lahair Stewart at the corners, with Castro and Barney up the middle.  Baker is the back-up to almost all positions, but the last infield spot will go to someone who can put Barney in the utility role he is better suited to play.  The favorite is Cardenas, if he can field enough, he has shown a good enough bat, at every level.  But Amezaga, E Gon, Tolbert, Scales will try to get the last spot
    as well, but all seem to be better suited for the back-up role as well.  

    Catchers – Soto and pick one, Castillo, Clevenger, Jaramillo  I would go with Castillo, as I feel the best way is to be catching the major league staff everyday, whether it is in bullpen sessions or a couple of games a week.  But he could very likely end up in Iowa to play everyday.  Soto will be gone by the trade deadline this year.

    Likely Opening Day Roster 

    C – Soto and Castillo or Jaramillo
    1B – LaHair
    2B – Barney, Cardenas, Baker
    SS – Castro
    3B – Stewart
    OF – Soriano, Byrd, DeJesus, R Johnson and Campana

    Brett Jackson will be up by June 1st and then you will see more of our guys from our system come up over the last 4 months of the season.

  • Tony_Hall

    The pitching staff for this year will have a different look.  No more Big Z  and his volatile outbursts but also no more thoughts, that the old Big Z will come back out and give us 2-3 months stretch of his good Big Z act.  Either way this pitching staff is now led by Garza.  As I am sure anyone who reads here knows, I don’t believe he is a staff ACE, nor do I think he will develop into one.  Most guys like Lincecum, Cain, Verlander, etc, you know it from the beginning, and they don’t often turn into an ACE down the road.  Now, Garza’s best season of his career should be over the next few years (while this team is rebuilding and the reason I never liked the trade) and until we bring up an up and coming ace from our system or buy one through FA or a trade, Garza is the guy.

    Dempster is in the rotation until he is traded. In an extreme situation, where he has a bad spring and is clearly beat out by 4 other guys for Spots 2-5 in the rotation, they could put him back in the bullpen as a way to get him to accept a trade.  Of course, the bullpen is also a way he could extend his career deeper into his 30’s and he has done a decent enough job of it in the past.

    That leaves 3 spots in the rotation and without 1 pitch being thrown in spring training games, I give the advantage to Maholm, Wood, Volstad and Wells as the final 4, with Wells being the odd man out and being the long man in the pen, unless they trade him.

    Now Samardzija will be given an opportunity in the spring to stretch out, but I don’t believe it is a true chance.   Castillo they have said they like him as a starter, which I just don’t see how that works this year, unless they do a small trade to keep him and be able to send him to the minors to start.

    Coleman, Sonnanstine, Cabrera, Lopez are the AAA teams rotation, with possibly Volstad or Wood, if Wells wins a spot in the rotation.

    The bullpen can be good this year, IF Marmol can go back to being the dominant force at the end of the game again.

    Marmol, Wood, Samardzija, Russell are for sure.

    One more lefty is likely to be Beliveau and Maine or Gaub could make the pen as well.  T Miller, is just being given a chance to showcase for other teams, and is insurance in case Beliveau, Maine and Gaub all need to go back to Iowa again.

    The other right options and front runners are Carpenter, Dolis and Mateo, with Weathers, Caridad and Corpas as long shots to start the year.

    Here is my prediction, as it stands right now.

    1 – Garza
    2 – Dempster
    3 – Maholm
    4 – Volstad (splitting the lefties)
    5 – Wood

    1 – Marmol
    2 – Wood
    3 – Samardzija
    4 – Russell
    5 – Beliveau
    6 – Mateo
    7 – Wells

    The chance it ends up just like this, is slim to none, but I believe this where it is at right now.

    I can’t wait for for Spring Training games to begin.

  • Tony_Hall

    Here is a Spanish blog that says to have info on Cespedes time with the Marlins.

    Most importantly is the $40M offer that he was given.

    http://networkedblogs.com/tOzVv 

    Sorry it’s in Spanish.

    • GaryLeeT

      It looks like the Marlins have him locked up. Another Cub’s fiend interest in a potential star. Although, in this case, I am glad the interest wasn’t real.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Tony, here’s the report translated:

      The
      Cuban player Yoennis Céspedes would have returned to the Dominican
      Republic with an offer from the Miami Marlins about $ 40 million dollars
      and has no immediate plans to meet with other major league teams.
      “Everything
      has been very positive and leaves with a proposal of about $ 40
      million,” [I] CaféFuerte [/ I] a source close to negotiations.
      The source added that the offer had been for six years.
      Cespedes
      surprisingly returned to Santo Domingo on Thursday night after a
      two-day visit to Miami, where he met with executives from the Marlins
      and heard proposals to join the local baseball franchise.
      [B] In Little Havana tour [/ B]
      Recorriido also performed for the Marlins stadium being built in Little Havana and said he would hit there.
      It
      was hoped that the trip will be leveraged to visit other sites of teams
      interested in his services for the upcoming season, but his agent, Adam
      Katz, suddenly announced that “there is nothing planned for now.”
      Katz
      confirmed [I] ESPN [/ I] that the meeting with the Marlins was a good
      meeting and noted that negotiations are continuing, but declined to
      discuss the figures of a possible contract.
      “We had a good game. They [the Marlins] made an impressive presentation. The discussions have been productive, but other teams as well, “Katz said.
      [B] coveted free agent [/ B]
      Cespedes was not mentioned when he came into contact with other teams interested in hiring you. In
      addition to the Marlins, the most likely sets and interest in Cuba are
      the Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland Indians and the Cubs
      and White Sox, both of Chicago.
      Cespedes,
      26, is the free agent has prompted closer monitoring in the stage of
      recruitment for next season, which begins in April. Right
      now is authorized by Major League Baseball franchises to meet with and
      listen to offers, but still lacks the Treasury Department authority to
      sign a professional contract.
      The
      player, who escaped from Cuba in the summer of 2011, he settled in the
      Dominican Republic and obtained residence in that country on January 25.
      Is expected to exceed Cespedes contract of fellow Aroldis Chapman, whom the Cincinnati Reds paid $ 30.25 for four seasons.
      Currently,
      Alexei Ramirez is the Cuban baseball player with the highest
      professional contract: $ 32.5 million contract with the Chicago White
      Sox.
      [B] Six teams interested in Garcia Adonis [/ B]
      Meanwhile,
      another old friend and fellow Cespedes Cuban youth teams, the Avilanian
      Adonis Garcia, became a free agent on Thursday and expects to sign a
      contract ponto majors.
      “We
      have six teams that were hoping to become a free agent to start
      negotiating,” said his representative, Carlos Perez, president of Miami
      Sports Consulting.
      [IMG] / images / adonisg-display.jpg [/ IMG]Adonis Garcia at all stars in the Caribbean Series.Perez did not name the teams, but said the Marlins were not among them.
      “They
      are like brothers, they play since they were young and would have been
      wonderful if they could play together on the Marlins, but that looks to
      be,” he said Perez.
      The
      businessman said Garcia is in Venezuela and will come to the United
      States upon receipt of the invitation of the franchises interested in
      his services.
      Garcia,
      a versatile 26-year-old plays in the infield and outfield, and has
      excelled as a power hitter in recent professional tournament. This winter he played in the Venezuelan League with the Magellan Navigators.
      And
      for him, the best card in the negotiations that are coming will be a
      spectacular performance at the recent Caribbean Series in the Dominican
      Republic attended as a reinforcement of the Aragua Tigers.
      Garcia
      was the cleanup hitter for the Tigers and averaged a whopping 364,
      earning him for inclusion in the All-Star Caribbean Series with another
      compatriot, LHP Raul Valdes, who competed with the champions Lions of
      the Chosen ( Dominican Republic).
      See also:
      Céspedes in Miami to negotiate with the Marlins [/ LINK]
      Caribbean, two Cubans in the All Stars [/ LINK]

      • Tony_Hall

        Thanks Neil, my 2 years of high school Spanish over 20 years ago, was just enough to understand $40M offer, but that was about it.

        • cubs1967

          really got to wonder what the marlins are thinking??…….how did the agent create leverage? he basically dropped centipede off at their door step and said “here ya go”. make me an offer so we can leave; which he did.
          i would of said” here’s 10M; good luck
          cubs need to say adios!!!……
          i hope the Soler kid has better representation and does have such tunnel vision.

          • gary3411

            It is odd, but maybe Cespedas after seeing Miami just said forget this leverage stuff, I am happy with 40 million and am playing for Miami, we are going home. Maybe when he made that video months ago, he was only expecting 10-20 million, now that everyone has talked him up and everything he saw that 40 offer and just said that’s enough for me why even talk to these other teams when I know I’m playing in Miami right now.

            Katz probably wasn’t happy about that, but he can’t make his client do anything.

            It’s anybody’s guess why they aren’t meeting with other teams, but we will find out I guess.

  • Anonymous47701

    I heard the Front Office was moving out of the ballpark, and into some kind of Bike Check Building, which I can’t seem to find on Flickr, Google Map or any place else. Could somebody bring up a picture as to it looks like?

    • cubtex

      I heard it has a big green wall in the back and the offices are painted red and blue :)

      • paulcatanese

        Not unusual for front office’s to be in another location, keeps the throwing of rotten eggs launched at them at a minumum.

        On a brighter note, I think team Theo see’s the Cubs as the same as the Giants num-nuts when they won the World Series with all the old guys and re-treads. One startling difference, the Giants had a pitching staff that produced and an All Star catcher.

        Theo will have a much harder time replacing the guys he is bringing in than if he did nothing but bring up guys in the system, the results may be better than what is forcast with this group.:)

        • gary3411

          Not sure I understand the comparison of Giants and Cubs? You think Theo doesn’t see the difference between their dominant homegrown starting staff and ours? That’s what he’s trying to create! Hopefully through the draft and international signings. We havn’t picked up any old guys, so not sure what you mean by that. We are piching up retreads because they are cheap with upside and allow us to save money and roster spots for the future. Stewart, Wood, Volstad, Maholm can all be cut after this season if they happened to fail, without ourselves being on the hook. The only 2 year commitment is Dejesus and its 2 measely years at a price cheap enough for Dejesus to be our 4th outfielder if better options emerge. And none of these guys are old, not sure where that came from?

          Did you want Marquez smith at 3rd?
          Ty Wright in RF?
          Rusin, Coleman and Wells our 3rd 4th and 5th pitchers?

          Vitters is not ready for the show.

          The one spot (1B) where we had a realistic man ready who tore it up last year at AAA and showed signs he can handle major league pitching at the end of last year, we filled from within with LaHair. Sitll no guarantee he can adjust for a full season though.

          Not trying to bash you, just really am curious what your ideas are for the guys from within that could fill the spots better. Jackson could be one, but it is much smarter to wait out his super-2 status and let him really make sure he’s ready when we have almost no chance of contending anyway

          Now that would be a 100 loss team if I ever seen one. And would be terrible from start to finish, and probably drop ticket sales significantly right away. With the retreads, there’s at least that hope that a few of them can turn it back around, also creating intrigue for fans. Ty Wright, Marques Smith and Chris Rusin are not intriguing.

          • paulcatanese

            Thats ok Gary, as each of us see this in a different way.
            Been waiting for Jackson for some time now and all I hear is his super-two status and save money in the long run. If he’s not ready by now. he never will be.
            I have not been impressed with the signings this year as 95% of them are based on a turn-around year or injuries. That doesent make for a competetive situation for me.
            They don’t really know how the guys they have in the minors would play out, but at least they have a clean slate when given the chance, and there is nothing to have to turn around to make it work.
            It may all be a moot point when spring training starts anyway, I would hope it works out with what you are saying, but see too many turn-arounds to happen for success.

      • Anonymous47701

        But where can it be found?

  • cubtex

    Zach Cates as the #5 prospect? I like his potential but cmon! Another example Keith Law trying to think he is smarter than everyone else.

  • paulcatanese

    Wow, the Marlins may have offered less than the 40 mil that was reported? Still time for the Cubs to jump on the bandwagon and offer
    a ridiculous amount for Cespedes, why?