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

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.

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Quote of the Day

"You can’t sit on a lead and kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game." - Earl Weaver