Weekend Update … Cubs Working Toward the Start of Camp

The last week of the Cubs’ off-season will be filled with decisions and meetings leading up to players’ physicals on Friday and the first official on field workouts of the spring in six days.

The Cubs organizational meetings will take place Wednesday and Thursday prior to pitchers and catchers reporting Saturday to Fitch Park. The Cubs still have work to do with the roster. They have not officially announced the signing of Gerardo Concepcion. If the reports are accurate and Concepcion agreed to a big league contract he should be in camp next weekend with the other pitchers and catchers on the 40-man roster. Adding the southpaw to the big league roster will require a corresponding roster move to clear a spot for him.

The Cubs are still in the mix for Yoenis Cespedes and are very interested in Jorge Soler, who has yet to establish residency in the Dominican Republic. Plus, the Cubs are still looking to add pitching depth according to Chris Bosio.

With six days before pitchers and catchers report, here is the update …

Chris Bosio on Talkin’ Baseball
The Cubs new pitching coach (third pitching coach for the Cubs in three seasons) joined Bruce Levine and Fred Huebner Saturday morning on ESPN 1000.

Chris Bosio sounded upbeat as he prepares for the start of his first camp as the Cubs’ pitching coach. The key for the Cubs’ pitching staff is to be prepared and not to leave any stone unturned. Bosio indicated that he will prepare his pitchers with a combination of scouting reports as well as statistical information but at the same time he must prepare them on the mental side of the game.

The mental side of pitching is extremely important. Bosio has to instill mental toughness with each of his pitchers and teach them how to work through the days in which they do not have their best stuff. Another key is the ability to refocus and shorten innings after mistakes and errors … each pitcher has to be prepared for every possible situation and do the best they can to control the situation while they are on the mound.

Bosio wants his staff to be tough, driven, treat every pitch as a battle and dictate the tempo of a game.

The Cubs’ front office has done a good job with building depth in the pitching staff and other areas this off-season but Chris Bosio does not think Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are done adding pitching. The Cubs did not have the inventory last year when injuries hit and it is important to have as much inventory as possible.

Pete Vuckovich had a big influence on Chris Bosio and he spoke highly of him during his interview on Talkin’ Baseball. Bosio spent two winters with Vuckovich (at the urging of Vuckovich) when he broke into the big leagues. Bosio admitted he was hesitant at first because spending two off-seasons in Wisconsin was not appealing to him at the time. Vuckovich stressed to Bosio that baseball is a commitment and it is important to play your best every day, every game. Bosio described Vuckovich as a kind person but extremely strong minded and tough … the two pitchers hit it off right away.

Chris Bosio said that he will be working pitchers a lot in the stretch when camp begins … and not in the windup. Unless they are going to pitch a no-hitter everyday, pitchers work more in the stretch. It is important for a pitcher to have as much command working from the stretch as they do from the windup.

Chris Bosio sounded ready and eager for camp to begin.

Jed Hoyer on ESPN 1000
Jed Hoyer was on The Carmen, Jurko and Harry Show last Thursday afternoon. The comments the Cubs’ GM made about Alfonso Soriano, Matt Garza and Carlos Marmol made the headlines but those were not the only topics that were discussed.

Jed Hoyer addressed the Cubs’ first base situation and stated once again that Bryan LaHair has “earned the right to start the season” as the Cubs’ first baseman … the keywords, “start the season.” Anthony Rizzo will begin the year in Iowa but he is not far away from the majors according to Hoyer. He admitted (again) that he rushed Rizzo to the big leagues last year and it hurt his development.

During the same interview, Hoyer discussed how the changes in the CBA will impact the Cubs in future drafts and signing international players. Hoyer explained when they were in Boston and San Diego they could spend over slot to sign the better players and outbid on international free agents. With the changes, baseball has been turned into a scouting contest.

The Cubs are in good hands with Jason McLeod, Tim Wilken and their talent evaluators according to Hoyer. It is much more important now to make the right evaluations when they are scouting players, there is simply less room for mistakes when projecting on how players will perform moving forward.

Yoenis Cespedes
The Cuban outfielder visited with the Miami Marlins earlier in the week and is back in the Dominican Republic. The Marlins are seen as the frontrunner (now) to sign Yoenis Cespedes … but don’t count out the Cubs.

Jed Hoyer discussed Cespedes during his interview Thursday on ESPN 1000. The media reports of the Marlins and Cubs being the top two teams in the Cespedes derby are inaccurate. According to Hoyer at least a half dozen to a dozen teams are in the mix for Cespedes. Hoyer admitted that the Cubs have done their due diligence with him.

While Bruce Levine agrees that the Marlins and Cubs are the top two teams, he said not to count out the White Sox. Levine sees the top four teams in the Cespedes derby being the Marlins (1), Cubs (2), White Sox (3) and Tigers (4). Cespedes figures to sign a contract worth between $40 and $60 million.

Ozzie Guillen said he and ten other “guys” with the Marlins went to the Dominican Republic to see Cespedes. Guillen has liked what he’s seen but the large financial commitment makes Guillen nervous. Cespedes has the tools but how he will be able to handle the majors is the main question for Guillen.

Yoenis Cespedes has not received an unblocking license from the OFAC. Cespedes can agree to terms with a team but he cannot sign or report to Spring Training before receiving the unblocking license.

News and Notes
During his interview on Talkin’ Baseball (ESPN 1000), Chris Bosio spoke highly of Rick Sutcliffe and is looking forward to picking his brain when Sutcliffe gets to camp.

According to Bruce Levine (Talkin’ Baseball/ESPN 1000), Brett Jackson appears to be on the same track as Anthony Rizzo. Jackson could be called up early in the season (May/June) but his call-up could depend on how Marlon Byrd and/or Dave Sappelt are playing at the time.

The Cubs are still very interested in signing Jorge Soler. According to Bruce Levine, even if the Cubs sign Yoenis Cespedes they will still go after Soler … but if they do not sign Cespedes they will go a little harder after Soler.

MLB Fan Cave
Brian Pasnik, a Cubs’ fan, is one of the finalists in the MLB Fan Cave contest and is asking Cubs’ fans for their vote.

Click Here to Watch Brian Pasnik’s video and vote for him to spend the season watching all 2,430 games in the Fan Cave.

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

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  • Ripsnorter1

    Hoyer basically confirmed that Soriano was untradeable this past off-season. 

    He also is signalling that Marmol is going to be dealt soon as possible, and that he’d love to dump Garza. 

    Cubs’ fans should start considering who might be the next closer.
    Samardzija?

    • Steve Rock_Vegas

      Did he also “signal” to you that he’s trying to push TJax on the Bosox for Theo comp and rush Rizzo to bigs as quickly as possible, even if he’s not ready?  Just curious, since your “signals” appear so in tune with reality!

    • Tony_Hall

      Hoyer didn’t confirm Soriano’s untradability, it was all of the teams, in MLB that none of them were interested, even when it was known the Cubs were only looking for someone to pay $9M of his contract.  

      I don’t know where you got that he is signaling Marmol will be dealt as soon as possible, what I heard was he was talking about player being accountable, and that 10 blown saves was unacceptable, and he will have to do better.

      And please tell me where you saw that Hoyer would “love to dump Garza”.  If they wanted to dump Garza, he would be gone.  He is still here, because no team is willing to part with their demands, demands you don’t make for players you want to dump.  They want to extend him, and I hope they do.

  • SuzyS

    The Ozzie note on Cespedes was interesting.  I trust his judgement on talent…he has excellent baseball knowledge.
    Last Monday, I went to my traditional Marquette/DePaul basketball game at the Rosemont…and was very surprised to see Ozzie and his son sitting courtside.  (Along with another guy that kind of looked like an older version of Ozzie)…Does he have a big brother???
    Much as my love for the Cubs far outweighs the White Sox…Chicago is still going to miss Ozzie.

    • paulcatanese

      I agree with you Suzy, Ozzie being where he is at, if Cespedes were anywhere near what he thought would be a success, he would have not said what he did.
      He is correct in the assumption that Cespedes is a risk for the amount of money he is probably going to get.
      He seems to realize that it may backfire.

  • SuzyS

    Much as I understand what the Cubs are doing…and agree with the basic concept…it is going to be really, really hard to watch the reality
    of a tear down.  I’m trying to brace myself.
    One thought going through my mind that might help others….
    Consider the entire 2012 season as Spring Training …designed solely to see who makes the team 2013 and beyond.
    With that in mind, it might be really interesting.

    • ChadAudio

      I like that…  It’s a spring training year.

  • cubs1967

    if BJax hits .350 in ST; he starts.  Not sure why anyone would worry about Byrd; who team theo has FAILED to trade or the crappy reds trade with Saffelt……who?…….who cares?……..
    Rizzo has already proven he cannot hit MLB pitching……..which makes that trade such a massive gamble………as Cashner has PROVEN he could get MLB hitters out.

    Saffelt??………really………..geez.

    • The Maven

      Sorry cubs1967, here’s the line on Cashner

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/c/cashnan01.shtml 

      As you can see, he’s only 2-6 with a 4.29 ERA and 1.415 WHIP

      Sappelt

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=sappel001dav 

      has a career average of .309 with 82 stolen bases in 4 minor league seasons. He’s only had 104 AB’s at the major league level.

      Rizzo

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=rizzo-001ant 

      has batted .296 with 64 home runs in 5 seasons in the minors. He also has had only 128 AB’s in the majors.

      In short, none of these players have PROVEN nor DISPROVED anything.

      • cubs1967

        Saffelt has proven he’ not BjAx so should not be in the way.
        Rizzo proved he’s a career .151 hitter to date.

        those were my points………..and proven.

        • Tony_Hall

          Ok, since it is a proven fact that Rizzo is only been a 150 hitter in his 128 major league AB’s, he should be just cut and kicked out of baseball, he’s a proven failure.

          Wait a minute, we are more concerned with future production…I thought once a player had had proven to be bad, we disregard any good and cast them aside…ok, I guess we can let him go to Iowa and get another chance, seen he’s only 22 and already overcome Hodgkins lymphoma and all, he might become a useful major league player.

        • daverj

          What did Sandberg do in his first 128 major league at-bats?   I’m not sure how to look that up, but from my memory it was pretty bad.  Making judgments on any player based on such a small sample size makes no sense.

          • Tony_Hall

            On May 9th, 1982, Sandberg was hitting 198/220/281/501 with 2 Hr’s (both in the same game) and playing 3B.

            Good thing that talent evaluators can see talent, without looking at stats all the time. 

          • daverj

            Hopefully Rizzo will turn out to be as “bad” a player as Sandberg.

          • Brp921

            If I’m remembering right Sandberg went 0 for 19 before getting his first hit for the Cubs.

        • Steve_Rock-Vegas

          He’s PROVED he’s a career .151 hitter? What career are you referring to?  The 128 ml AB’s? And although Saffelt doens’t thrill me either, how can you say he’s proven he’s no Bjax, what’s he PROVEN so far? I remember not to long ago the Bjax we all couldn’t wait to see is now in Milwaukee floundering his major league career, remember me (C. Patterson)? Bjax, although I pray is the answer, hasn’t proven jack yet and neither has Saffelt.  What’s to even compare so far? 

        • Steve_Rock-Vegas

          And one other comment, the only thing Cashner has PROVEN is that he knows how to get hurt.  When he’s pitched he’s proven he’s young, with supposed potential, but undelivered as of yet.  2-6 with a 4.29 ERA does not prove he knows how to get hitters out. I’d say he’s the next Mark Prior if he’s lucky….

        • brett

          sappelt

    • Thebearsays

       I recall a young pitcher the Cubs brought up once in September, he went 2-4, then went 6-14 the next year in his first full season, thus ‘proving’ he couldn’t get major league hitters out. He was such a stiff the Cubs had to recently retire his # in a ceremony featuring him and Fergie Jenkins.

      • Anthony

        you made a great post

        It says so much without many words

        Should remind folks about the terms patience, knee-jerkin, panic, adjustment, quick-to-judge, myopia, and talent for the game all at the same time.

        By the way, fake scout journalists prospects lists are garbage, right T?

    • Tony_Hall

      If BJax hits or doesn’t hit, he will start…in Iowa.  For a team, that the difference in their season is not going to be whether BJax plays 100 or 160 games, it makes no sense to start his clock, prior to his Super 2 status passing.  It buys an extra year prior to arbitration and free agency.

      • gary3411

        Does it speed up free agency process too? I thought Super-2 just meant an extra year of arbitration, but still 6 until free agency? Maybe I’m wrong.

        • Tony_Hall

          Absolutely.  6 years to FA, so if he plays all of 2012, he would be a FA after 2017, by waiting until late May/June, you gain 2018, along with no Super 2 status after 2014.

          • Thebearsays

             Thanks for the clarification, Tony!

      • Tom U

        In just looking at the schedule, June 1 will mark 125 days left in the season. That means that depending on what the League and the union agree on, the Super 2 date can be around a week after that. 

        Mark down Monday, June 11 as the possible Brett Jackson call-up. It should be after the Super 2 date and the Cubs have an off-day. Another possibility is June 21, another off-day and the team will play on the road the next day. The Cubs have a habit of breaking in rookies away from Wrigley.

    • gary3411

      when Cashner was the age of Rizzo (21, when he was in the majors last year), Cashner was getting LIT UP by single-A hitters. Yea and Cashner’s whip is 1.42 in the majors, that’s pretty bad and usually equals a long man out of the pen.

    • John_CC

      That’s funny…a “career” .151 hitter… in one cup of coffee at age 22! LOL

      O, and you must have forgotten already, but your other point was that Cashner has PROVEN he can get MLB hitters out.  Yes, he can, but his “career” WHIP and ERA also show that he puts far too many men on base and gives up too many runs…basically he’s a PROVEN #4 starter! Sweet!

  • paulcatanese

    If Chris Bosio is baseing the pitchers getting ready to pitch from the stretch more than the windup, he must have got the idea from last years staff, but then again last year there was no reason to pitch from the stretch as most of the hits were home runs or triples.

    • ChadAudio

      LOL. Zing!!

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    I would like to remind everyone to be respectful of each other. If you cannot engage in a conversation without doing so, saying nothing is always the right decision. 

    • SuzyS

      Thanks, Neil

      • Tedtop16

        Neil:
        Thanks for removing the sleezy comment made to SuzyS. There is no need for those types of comments.

      • Thebearsays

         Thanks from me, also…I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who flagged that.

  • paulcatanese

    I agree that Bosio should pick the brain of Rick Sutclffe when he shows up in ST.
    That brings up a point that I know very little of Bosio other than I had read that he was a close friend of Svenum. And he is the third pitching coach in the last couple of years.
    Watching what Theo and his bunch of merry men has been interesting with some of the moves they have made. It brings back the thought of the Cubs and the College of Coaches, and I am sure some mistakes have been made here also.
    I am willing to wait until they take the field for any real judgement of Theo and group and see how it works out. Giving them the benefit of the doubt is what I am relegated to do.
    I didn’t have to do that at all with JH and Q as it was so predictable and easy to figure out what they were or not doing.
    Should have an idea what direction the Cubs are headed for in three or four more weeks, hope all of this works out for the Cubs, as a lot of the posters on here believe it will and join them in wishing the Cubs well from here on out.

  • Anthony

    If the Cubs want to sign Cirqe’ de Soler, then treat it like a pre-2012 CBA draft type deal. Give him a 1st round bonus and a standard minor league contract after that.

    Anything else would be considered OVER-spending and force the Club to make future decisions on the basis of having to play this guy somewhere down the road regardless of his results, which has a trickle-down effect towards other players and their opportunities, or lack of them.

    Just go back and follow the Epstein signing of former CJNT SS Iglesias, and how he was (forced) fast-tracked to AAA and a cup of coffee.

    Iglesias can play defensive SS now better than most in MLB, but his bat is way behind, but I still would play him on my team, but

    Cherington at this point won’t, and that is mainly because the Red Sox are contenders, and ChiC is not, currently.

    Theo has overpaid for IFA’s, and will probably puke over crazy monies once again

    • daverj

      Anthony – Soler should get more than the pre-2012 CBA 1st round draft guys.  He’s a free agent … those guys were not.  Soler can negotiate with all major league teams … 1st round draft picks can negotiate with only one team.  If the 1st round draft picks the last few years were free agents, the top guys would command $20+ million … and that is what Soler will get.