Two Days to the Start of Cubs Camp

Two days until pitchers and catchers officially report to Fitch Park

The Cubs organizational meetings began Wednesday. The annual meetings were pushed back from early November until this week due to the front office changes. The meetings are expected to conclude Thursday.

Players are making their way to Mesa and have been working out before camp officially begins Saturday. Pitchers and catchers will undergo physicals Friday and are slated to be on the field Saturday.

The Cubs have not made an official announcement about the signing of Gerardo Concepcion. If the reports are accurate, the Cubs will have to create a spot on the 40-man roster in order to sign Concepcion.

In other news, the compensation for Theo Epstein is expected to be announced this week … and if the Padres are going to receive a player as compensation for allowing Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod out of their contracts, that announcement should be made in the coming days as well.

Here’s the update … Jorge Soler
With Yoenis Cespedes off the market, the next hot international prospect is Jorge Soler. The Cubs are in the mix but nowhere near signing Soler as the Tribune reported Monday night.

The Cubs are one of several teams interested in Jorge Soler. Reportedly the Red Sox, Yankees, Phillies, Marlins, Orioles and Blue Jays have shown interest … and there are probably several unknown teams that will get involved once Soler establishes residency in the Dominican Republic.

Alex Anthopoulos, along with several other members of the Blue Jays’ front office, worked out Soler (and three other Cuban players) at their Dominican complex Wednesday morning. Soler is scheduled to work out for the Orioles this weekend.

Soler is expected to be expensive and could actually top the $27.5 million that the Tribune thought the Cubs had agreed to pay him.

According to a report from Ken Rosenthal, Jorge Soler might not sign for as much as Cespedes (four years, $36 million) but he is expected to top the $15.5 million that Cuban outfielder Leonys Martin received from the Texas Rangers … Martin signed a five-year contract worth $15.5 million in May of 2011.

Anthony Rizzo on XM Radio
Anthony Rizzo joined Jim Memolo and Todd Hollandsworth during First Pitch (MLB Network Radio/XM Radio) Wednesday morning. Rizzo sounded upbeat as he prepares for his first Spring Training with the Chicago Cubs.

Anthony Rizzo is leaving Sunday for Arizona.

The belief that Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod have shown in Rizzo has helped him a lot. Rizzo thinks he will be able to handle changing teams and the pressure associated with being a top prospect in an organization better than he did last year. He feels he is better prepared this spring after going through what he did with the Padres.

Rizzo said the key is to remember this is the same game that he played when he was a kid. No matter where he is (minors or majors) he has to prepare the same and go through the same daily routine. He has to slow the game down the best he can and remember to have fun.

Last year Rizzo put the pressure on himself to “be the man” and he admitted he tried to leave an impression on everyone that saw him play.

Rizzo plans on going to Spring Training and opening the eyes of the Cubs’ brass. He would like to make it hard for them to send him to minor league camp. He acknowledged that he must not get ahead of himself like he did last year and take it one day at a time.

As for his goals this spring, Rizzo would like to work the kinks out, concentrate on working counts and spend time on his defense.

The Cubs Convention left an impression on Rizzo. He admitted he now knows how important the Cubs are to a lot of people. Rizzo described the convention as “awesome” and he loves the city.

“The only big thing I want to do in that city is win a World Series, Anthony Rizzo said. I’m just going to go in, play my game and have fun.”

Anthony Rizzo was impressive to listen to once again. For a 22-year old to be as focused as he comes off is refreshing.

Building Through the Draft
FanGraphs ran an article that ranked all 30 big league teams at drafting and developing talent over the last decade starting with the 2002 draft.

FanGraphs ranked the teams by total accumulated WAR and included the average WAR per homegrown player.

The Boston Red Sox topped the list with the Chicago Cubs ranked 27th out of the 30 teams.

Here is what FanGraphs had to say about the Chicago Cubs:

If the Astros have only developed one stud player since the 2002 Draft, the Chicago Cubs have developed no one significant. They have been relatively successful at drafting and developing minor role players — Tony Campana, Rich Hill, Darwin Barney, Tyler Colvin, etc — but the homegrown talent is lacking star power. The best the Cubs have done is Sean Marshall, who found success as a dominant set-up man — which, while nice, has little overall value for creating a homegrown core to build around. Perhaps the 2005 Draft personifies the Cubs’ developmental success over the past decade. The 2005 Draft saw one Chicago Cub draftee make the big leagues (thus far), and that was left-handed reliever Donnie Veal, who pitched 16.1 innings for the Pirates in 2009 and compiled a 7.16 ERA. The system suffered yet another blow prior to the 2011 season, when they sent Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee, and company to Tampa Bay for Matt Garza.

FanGraphs – Building Through the Draft: Best of the Best
FanGraphs – Building Through the Draft: Worst of the Worst

News and Notes
According to a report from Carrie Muskat, the Cubs are waiting to see if Blake DeWitt clears waivers. DeWitt was DFA’d on February 6 and if he is unclaimed the Cubs could re-sign him to a minor league contract that includes an invite to big league camp.

The Cubs released minor league right-handed pitcher Robinson Lopez. The Cubs acquired Lopez from the Atlanta Braves in the Derrek Lee deal back in 2010.

Tim Sheridan posted a good report on Jeff Beliveau … with pics of the southpaw from Fitch Park.

The Cubs were rumored to be interested in a reunion with Ramon Ortiz, but the veteran right-hander signed a minor league deal with Giants that was announced Wednesday. Ortiz received a non-roster invite to Giants camp.

Long-time Astros’ announcer Milo Hamilton has decided to call it a career after the 2012 season. Hamilton’s most famous call dates back to 1974 when Hank Aaron hit home run number 715 to pass Babe Ruth on the All-Time Home Run list. Hamilton called Cubs’ games from 1980-1984 and did not leave on the best terms with Harry Caray.

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

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO


  • http://twitter.com/Golfnut70Bob OttawaBob

    test

  • Tony_Hall

    Here is an ESPN Insider article that is done by Jim Bowden, Buster Olney and Keith Law.  The Cubs rank 13th for future rankings.  

    http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/7574220/mlb-future-power-rankings-2012-nos-20-11 

    This was based on a point system and in different categories.

    The Cubs received the following points.

    Finances 25 of 30
    Management 27 of 30
    Mobility 20 of 30
    Minors 11 of 30
    Current team 6 of 30

    Their overall score was 51.9 of 100 to rank 13th

    Here’s the info on the Cubs.

    The lowdown
    There isn’t much talent on the North Side right now, but there is still reason to be excited. The Cubs just brought in a group of execs (led by team president Theo Epstein) who helped the Red Sox break their 86-year title drought, and Epstein & Co. have already begun the process of shedding the dead weight on the Cubs’ roster. Based on how well Epstein was able to build a farm system when he was Boston’s GM, it’s easy to foresee success in Chicago, particularly since the Ricketts family will give him money to spend once the team is ready to compete. Don’t expect a miracle in 2012, but this team is already on track for success. – Buster Olney

    The next step
    How do Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer replicate the development machine that produced Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury and Kevin Youkilis? Stay the course and don’t deviate with free agents until they’re ready to win. Fans will need patience. – Jim Bowden

  • Tony_Hall

    Seems like Fangraphs lists the Red Sox as the best of the best, in the building through the draft articles that Neil linked in the article.

    “With Theo Epstein at the helm, the Red Sox became one of the most-effectively run organizations in Major League Baseball, and that extended to the draft.  ”

    • Steve Rock_Vegas

      I wonder if he built the Red Sox to “lose big on the cheap” also, like he is with the Cubs as some have suggested to my amazement :)

      • cubtex

        No….they lost on huge dough the last several years in Boston!

        • John_CC

           So losing “big on the cheap” is a punishable offense, and now losing “on huge dough” is also a crime (even after winning TWO championships in a decade)…I wonder what the happy medium is? 

          • cubtex

            Yankees won the world series in 96,98,99,2000 and 2009. Do you think Cashman will be safe if they don’t win a championship in the next 4 years? Of course not. Spending that type of dough….they expect to win and should win! Just like Theo was expected to win in Boston spending that type of dough.

          • John_CC

             Again, you ignore nuance and reality. 

            There can only be one winner.  The Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Cubs…all big spenders only one can win.  Are the mid-market GMs safer in their jobs when they do not win because they don’t have the top payrolls? 

            Isn’t everyone “expected” to win at some point in a major league, professional sport?  Of course Epstein expected his teams in Boston to win. I certainly hope he expects his Cubs teams to win.

            What the hell was your point anyway? 

          • cubtex

            Again…you choose to ignore facts and worship boy blunder. The Red Sox and Yankees have outspent EVERYONE by a landslide over the last decade. If I was the owner spending that type of money…..I expect to have an advantage over EVERY team. Quit using this 2 championship defense for boy blunder. As I have said many times….he should have won more than 2 with the unlimited payroll he had.

          • daverj

            Cubtex – Don’t you think it’s a bit premature to give Theo the nickname “boy blunder”?  As you know, I like what he’s done so far given the options and current roster available to him.  My view will likely change, however, if he doesn’t (A) sign at least 1 top tier starting pitcher next offseason and (B) either lock up Garza long term or sign a second high end starting pitcher next offseason.  I just think that whether you agree or disagree with the moves he had made this offseason, it’s premature to state that he’s earned the nickname “blunder”.

          • cubtex

            Fair point. I don’t share your pleasure with alot of his moves. I like the Rizzo deal, Marshall trade and Maholm signing….but not the DeJesus signing or Stewart trade. He didn’t address 2B(Barney is not a starter) and the bench as currently assembled is very very weak. He deserves a a honeymoon period but he hasn’t done anything out of the ordinary….imo

          • John_CC

             To re-post, from Fangraphs:

            “With Theo Epstein at the helm, the Red Sox became one of the
            most-effectively run organizations in Major League Baseball, and that
            extended to the draft.  ”

            Keep up your “boy blunder” routine. You sound like a foolish whiner.

          • cubtex

            To repost from reality…..since 2002 the Red Sox paroll totalled $1,298,199,929 or approximately 130 mil a year under boy genius. The Cubs were $1,053,702,094 or approximately 105 mil per year. Not even close! The only team to spend more….the only team is the Yankees. They should have won several world series spending that dough!

    • cubtex

      Fangraphs also listed Garza as the 16th best starter in all of baseball as well. You didn’t want to believe that……but I am sure you do about Theo :)

      • cubtex

        Fangraphs MLB pitching leader 2011. 1. Halladay 2. Sabathia 3. Verlander 4. Kershaw 5. Lee 6. Haren 7. Cj Wilson 8. Weaver 9. Fister 10. Hernandez 11. Bumgarner 12. Cain 13. GARZA with. 5.0 WAR. SO If you believe that article…..consider they ranked these pichers in order as well :)

      • John_CC

         So according to your logic, either the Red Sox or Yankees should have been playing either the Cubs or Mets in every World Series for the past decade. They being the largest payroll teams in the league.

        Once again, out of those 4 teams, between 2002 and 2011, the Red Sox and Cardinals are the only two teams with multiple championships. The Yankees with one in two tries.

        Your argument is just silly.  Why do you have so much animosity against Epstein because he was given a large payroll to work with?  It is an irrational critique of the job Epstein has done. I know we just went over this, but only one other team has two championships over the past decade. And aside from the Yankees domination of the 90s, there are only three other franchises in the past 25 years with two World Series wins within a ten year period: the Blue Jays’ back to back wins (92-93), the Marlins (03 & 97), the Twins (87 & 91).  It is not an easy feat to achieve, with money or not!

        • Tony_Hall

          Winning a World Series takes a very good team that has a little luck.  If you could buy it, the Top 5 payrolls would be the only teams to ever win.

          2 World Series Championships in 10 years is pretty good, and I would be ecstatic if the Cubs won just once in the next 10 years, 2 would be the icing on the cake.

          • John_CC

             Exactly.  Just spending money doesn’t guarantee anything. Look no further than the Cubs, who have nothing but division titles to show for it. Luck is always a factor.  And a shrewd eye for talent helps too.

          • SuzyS

            I want the icing Tony

      • Tony_Hall

        Touche! 

        You know how I rank Garza, I feel more in the 25-35 range, which is still a pretty good MLB pitcher.

        I also think #1 is always arguable, but that Theo would be Top 5 :)

  • Tom U

    I’m sorry to steal Neil’s thunder, but Bryan LaHair was just named Winter Player of the Year by Baseball America. 

    However, the CCO was ahead of BA, as was reported last week.
    http://chicagocubsonline.com/archives/2012/02/cubsminors20612.php

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

      Thanks for posting Tom … You were ahead of them on LaHair.

  • Josh Man

    While the potential of Rizzo does excite me, and I too am impressed when listening to him, I am most looking forward to Brian LaHair getting a chance. I’ve got a good feeling about him, and think he can be an important piece for us not only now, but also in the future.

    Living in Texas I go to a lot of Ranger games, and LaHair reminds me a lot of Nellie Cruz. A lot of people thought he was a AAAA type hitter, then he became an All Star.

    • Anthony

      Hope Bryan does well

    • Anthony

      This is a nice article that expresses sport-related things I believe in. I don’t believe in AAAA players, I don’t believe in Top Prospect lists, and I don’t really care about draft position and its relationship to talent, tools, desire, heart, mental toughness, and the ability to persevere. Many times, they are wrong.

      Reminds me a little of LaHair, and his forthcoming opportunity with the Cubs.

      Reilly wrote the piece

      http://espn.go.com/espn/story/_/id/7574087/overlooking-jeremy-lin

  • paulcatanese

    Just a hunch, but I feel that Selig will favor the Red Sox with the compensation issue for Theo.

    • JimBo_C

      Paul,
      My hunch is that the delay in adding the teenage Cuban pitcher to the 40-man roster is because the Epstein compensation is part of the roster.

    • cubtex

      Agreed

  • guest
  • paulcatanese

    Can’t wait for the next week, when all the rumors will come into view and evaluations can be seen first hand.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

     Hall of Famer Gary Carter passed away earlier today. I always enjoyed watching him play the game.

    • paulcatanese

      Agree Neil, indeed sad news, too young and too soon.

    • SuzyS

      Sad news on Carter…I liked him also.
      Neil…Do waivers take longer in the offseason…or is it just my imagination??? Seems to me like the Blake DeWitt thing is taking forever.

      • John_CC

         Sad for sure, he was so young.

        But I have to say that I always loathed that guy, as a competitive opponent that always seemed to beat up on the Cubs.

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

         Suzy, no the waiver period is the same length … just everything seems longer during the off-season. They should know by now and announce tomorrow.

    • RickinMSP

      I must have been about 9 years old when I watched Carter play the outfield during the 1975 All-Star Game and for whatever reason kids have for deciding they like a player, I did Carter.  I liked Carter enough that I tried to change my loyalty to the Expos for a bit, but couldn’t quite pull it off.  Carter was one of my boyhood heroes and though he never knew me, he made my childhood a little better.  I will miss him.

  • Tony_Hall

    Interesting article on the hidden value of framing a pitch.

    http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/post/_/id/20884/what-jose-molina-brings-to-the-rays 

    Inside that article is a link to another article

    http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=15093 

    This article give a breakdown of how many runs each catcher has saved or cost his team over the last 5 years.

    Jose Molina is the leader at 73 runs.

    Soto is 10th at 24 runs.

    Ironically our “defensive” minded catcher the last few years – Koyie Hill is really low and cost his teams 25 runs.