The Roster, Renovations, Theo Epstein … and Other Cubs News and Notes on the Eve of Opening Day

Spring Training is over and before long it will become a distant memory. Now the real work begins.

The Cubs still have decisions that must be made with the roster. The Cubs active roster currently consists of 31 players and must be trimmed to 25 by Wednesday afternoon. The Cubs have made several announcements over the last week but none of those moves have been made official.

Joe Mather and Blake DeWitt have been told they made the Opening Day roster. The Cubs will have to create at least one spot on the 40-man roster in order to add both Mather and DeWitt. One spot could have already been opened up if Frankie De La Cruz has been outrighted to the minors as reported.

Rodrigo Lopez, Manny Corpas and possibly Shawn Camp could round out the bullpen, if so the Cubs will have to open up three more spots on the big league roster. Lendy Castillo, the Cubs’ Rule 5 pick, is on the 40-man roster and the Cubs must make a decision on whether to keep him or offer him back to the Phillies. Then there is Casey Coleman and Tony Campana. Both players have been told they will begin the season with the Iowa Cubs but neither player has been officially optioned down to Triple-A.

There is at least one wild card in the roster scenario … according to multiple reports, the Cubs are trying to trade for a southpaw that would give Dale Sveum one more lefty, to go along with James Russell, in the pen.

As the Cubs prepare for the start of the season, here is the final update before every pitch and every inning counts …

City in Final Stages of Deal for Wrigley Field Renovation
According to multiple reports Tuesday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said that he is in the final stages of negotiating a deal with the team to pave the way for the renovation of Wrigley Field.

According to the Sun-Times, “the mayor refused to say whether he found a way to help subsidize renovation of the iconic ball park without signing on to a Cubs’ plan he once called a non-starter forfeiting 35 years’ worth of amusement tax growth.

For the first time, the mayor demanded that the Cubs invest their own money in the stadium instead of pumping $200 million into the construction of the so-called triangle building adjacent to Wrigley.

Full Report from the Sun-Times

Bryan LaHair
The Cubs’ first baseman has been on the shelf since last Friday with a back injury. The Cubs have been saying for several days that the injury is not serious and will not land LaHair on the DL … but he could miss Opening Day.

Bryan LaHair will be re-evaluated Wednesday at Wrigley Field and his status for Opening Day will be determined at that point. Dale Sveum said Tuesday that LaHair should be in the lineup no later than the weekend … the Cubs open the season Thursday, have a scheduled day off Friday, then finish the three-game series with the Nationals on Saturday and Sunday.

Theo Epstein
The Cubs President of Baseball Operations addressed several topics with the media on the final day of Spring Training at HoHoKam Park.

Theo Epstein said the Cubs’ system lacks impact talent and the organization needs more talent. Epstein admitted the Cubs have a “number of interesting guys, especially at the lower levels, but every organization has a number of interesting guys at the lower level.

Epstein also addressed that noise from the fan base and or the media will not affect how they go about building an organization with sustained success.

From the Tribune:

“I can go ahead and write your stories for you now if you want. At some point you’re going to wake up and write about ‘Oh, the honeymoon is over. We’re not seeing enough progress.’ I don’t know when that’s going to be. It might be two years from now, it might be three years from now, it might be two months from now, it might be two weeks from now. But because progress as an organization isn’t linear, that’s coming, and we just don’t let it bother us. I think it’s important to just focus on what we’re doing internally and understand that everything outside is really, no offense, just noise. Whether it comes from (the media) or even comes from some fans who are deservedly upset at a given point, it’s really just noise and if we let it affect our decision-making, shame on us.”

“So as (Bill) Parcells said, ‘If you listen to the fans in the stands, pretty soon you’ll be sitting with them.’ Don’t take that the wrong way. I care more than anything what our fans think. But I also operate with the belief that ultimately the only way to make them happy is to be able to provide for them baseball in October on a consistent basis, and a World Series championship eventually. Any time they’re frustrated, or there’s negative feedback, it’s just a reminder to me of what the ultimate goal is.”

Baseball, Video Tape and the Cubs
According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, the Cubs have installed cameras in their minor league stadiums that the front office will be able to watch in real-time on the Web from anywhere on a laptop.

The new regime is in the process of revamping the Cubs video system and trying to make sure they get a lot more video on their minor and major league players. The Cubs “have also distributed video cameras to their amateur and international scouts to use each time they go to a game.” The scouts will now be juggling a radar gun, a video camera and their reports … and all of the information gathered can be entered into their Bloomberg computer system.

Full report from Comcast SportsNet: Cubs Breaking It All Down on Video

Minor League Rosters
Three of the Cubs’ top four minor league teams have announced their Opening Day rosters this week.

The Cubs’ minor league teams kick off their seasons Thursday, April 5.

News and Notes
On Thursday, Dale Sveum will officially become the third manager Starlin Castro has played for during his three seasons in the big leagues.

Alfonso Soriano’s defense is getting special attention according to the Sun-Times.

Bill Murray will sing the Seventh Inning Stretch on Opening Day.

According to Bruce Levine, numerous teams are still pursuing Marlon Byrd. The Cubs are looking for a quality left-handed pitcher for their bullpen.

Well, there’s the update … it’s almost time to PLAY BALL!

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Quote of the Day

"You try to get that game out of your mind, but it never leaves you." - Cool Papa Bell
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  • Ripsnorter1

    Now here’s something that Theo and I agree upon:

    Theo Epstein said the Cubs’ system lacks impact talent and the organization needs more talent. Epstein admitted the Cubs have a “number of interesting guys, especially at the lower levels, but every organization has a number of interesting guys at the lower level.” 

    “Prospects are just suspects until they prove something at the ML level.”

    • cubtex

      I think they have 2 potential impact guys who are close in Rizzo and BJax. The pitching is the biggest glaring hole. One of my many issues with Theo is that he has done nothing to improve the team for 2012 or 2013 yet. Rizzo is the only player who can be penciled in as a starter for 2013 who he aquired.

      • Scott

        Except for Volstad, who is starting now.

        And if a horrible 2011 season and starting 2012 in AAA means that you can pencil in starting in 2013, you can say that Travis Wood will be another person who was acquired.

        • cubtex

          With Travis Wood coming off a terrible year last year in the minors….he is not anywhere near being penciled in. Volstad is starting now….but if he has another year like last year…..this could be his last as well.

          • Scott

            And Rizzo comming off of a year where he failed at the ML level and is in the minors automatically has him penciled in for next year?

            I agree that he is the future first baseman for the Cubs, but I don’t see why criteria used for one prospect cannot be used for another prospect.

            I guess I’m just not as quick to be pessimistic on guys as some other people are.  With Wood, I would prefer to look at him as someone with a lot of potential after we was able to put up a 3.51 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and .222 average against his rookie year.  I think the potential is there.

          • wrigleylover

            And if Volstad continues to pitch like he did in Sept last year it will be the first of many as a Cub

          • cubtex

            remember how good Casey Coleman looked in Sept 2010 as well:) You shouldn’t judge September for pitchers since they are pitching against a lot of callup players and teams that are out of it.

      • Dorasaga

        I don’t know. BJ looks like uncomfortable dealing with ML pitching. Time will tell who really adjusted and improved, then ready to STAY.

        Epstein needs to grow as many high-ceiling farmhands as he can right now, so the probability of prospects on track then ready increases.

        That’s why I had no problem with his signing of a Cuban or three. The Cubs always had a glaring hole in this organization: Refusal of a systematic progress. That includes a minor league philosophy to Development, an evaluation-way on FA, and so on…

        JHendry did a good job for what he got, inheriting the MacPhail Way of a small front-office and an evaluation system full of old-schools. Any successful and winning org. need those talents in their office, but as parts, not whole.

        JHendry was too much into his parts, so he ended up with Soriano, Marlon Byrd, and Carpenter. Fair enough for an Orioles or Pirates, too bad for Chicago and 103 years.

    • John_CC

       It’s a great quote, the “every organization has a number of interesting guys at the lower level”.

  • cubs1967

    here’s your starting 1st baseman on opening day:

    once released; paid 3 times a rookie; super-sublike derosa: Blake Dewitt……………

    some would call this foreshadowing…..

    • Scott

      Have you seen somewhere in writing that DeWitt will be the starting first baseman tomorrow?

      As of right now, I don’t even see that he is on the 40-man roster, let alone the 25-man roster.

      (And just as a point of reference, saying he makes 3 times a rookie is an exaggeration….)

      • RickinMSP

        I think ’67 is probably right on this one.  LaHair is hurt and Strasburg is on the hill so Baker won’t start and multiple reports say Dewitt has made the opening day roster.  Unless LaHair can play it’s Dewitt by default.

        • cubtex

          You would think that his back might have been an issue all spring. He had 61 AB’s this spring and didn’t hit not 1HR. That’s a lot of at bats for not hitting a long ball. All LaHair has to do is hold down the fort till the end of June……but who knows if he can even do that.

        • Scott

          If reports are correct, Mather could be the guy as well.  I wasn’t saying that he was wrong, I just was looking for something in writing that said that DeWitt would definitely be the guy if LaHair is out for tomorrow.

          And there will probably be a lot of player movement today as teams finalize their rosters.  Who knows what might happen.  Until DeWitt is actually put on the roster, it is hard to say is is the guy by default – at least in my opinion.

  • paulcatanese

    Back issues are a major problem for a player,play one day and not be able to move for three or four in between. As DeWitt is on the roster, I see that he will play first against RH pitchers at least.
    The problem here is of course his glove,experience,height,whatever, you name it and he does not fit over at first.
    If any confidence is to be instilled at this point, forget it.
    But then Theo dosen’t listen to what others say or think, he is on a one way mission, his way.
    Well he better be right, if he thinks the fan base won’t be upset with waiting three or even four more years for a winner, not even a World Series, just a winner, top 1-2-or-3 finish.
    Right now I see a suspect infield throwing to a suspect first baseman, dosent lead to a lot of confidence.

    • Ripsnorter1

      Don’t forget, Paul, that DeWitt hits LHP better than RHP. If they platonn DeWitt, they ought to bat him only against LHP. 

      He’s one of those “inside-out” guys. 

    • cubtex

      You are correct. Back issues are a major problem expecially for a power hitter. He went 61 AB’s this spring without a homer? That should tell you something.

      • paulcatanese

        The other issue here is the Cubs have gone to great length to sign a number of players to “stockpile” and the first seemingly “crisis” they have (LaHair) they would cover it with DeWitt?
        If in fact he does cover over at first does not sit well at developing a roster, and someone dropped the ball.
        And the first day of the season?
        It appears that the most important cogs in the Cubs roster are going to be DeWitt and Baker, wow, that makes my day.
        They just might as well move Soriono over there, I think he can field just as well, (and he’s bad), but I believe would be an improvement, he can hop a lot higher.

        • cubtex

          this team is not constructed well at all. 2 right hand hitters as the 4th and 5th outfielders. Bad defensive players in Baker and DeWitt as infield depth. Very bad bench.

          • Theboardrider

            It’s a work in progress.  Theo had very little to work with when he came in…

        • cubs1967

          either JH was a genius becuz he already had these guys OR theo is as dumb as JH for keeping them……..either way this 2012 team is NO different than the JH teams….NOR is anything set up for 2013……..just a bunch of talk…….cockiness and BS about a pitching staff as good an anyon’es or how the team should be highly competitive…….

          someone wake me up ……..this is the nightmare for the last 103 yrs…….

          there’s always……..wait till next year

          • Theboardrider

            He can’t just make other teams take players off our hands.  He’s got to work deals and be patient.  As do we fans…

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Also, the past 103 years have nothing to do with Theo.  He’s brand new on this job.  5 months and counting…

          • gocubs

             What part of a re-building do you not understand?  Is it turning short
            term assets into long term assets, signing low cost, high upside, team
            controlled players, rerouting mlb payroll into development, scouting,
            drafting?  What is it?  They are not “ALL IN” this year…they have said
            over and over and over again, they will always try to win, but will not
            sacrifice the future for the short term. 

    • Steve Rock-Vegas

      So what interaction have you had with Theo that lead you to believe it’s always “his way” or no way?  I didn’t realize you knew him so well.  Or are you just referring to what you read on blogs, fish wrappers, and other reliable garbage?

      • cubtex

        You are an angry man Stevie! Are you related to Theo? You are very sensitive to anyone who says anything slightly negative to your boy.

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          I think Steve has is just stating that a lot of negativity has boiled up in 5 months and it’s pretty ridiculous.  Maybe he is a bit more aggressive in stating it but I don’t think he’s saying anything that many of us would disagree with. 

        • John_CC

           Look in the mirror, cubtex.  And get serious, your self-righteous indignation is condescending and obnoxious too. 

          • cubtex

            Don’t read my posts :)

          • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

            Sometimes you say things worth reading.  But you don’t have to attack anyone that disagrees with you.  Or say stuff like “don’t read my posts.”  We’re all on the same side here…

          • cubtex

            He called me obnoxious. OK…I have been called worse :) Don’t read it then. He has a choice is all I am saying. How is that attacking?

      • paulcatanese

        No, I am reffering to his post above that Neil posted, you just read it differently. He as much as admited that he dosent take what others say seriously, does that mean his way or not?

  • Ripsnorter1

    I, too, think LaHair will not start opening day due to his back. Here’s a thought:

    Maybe Jed will just DL him right off the bat to open up a roster spot for……Amezaga!  LOL…..now there’s a power bat for you!

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Paul Sullivan: Lendy Castillo on wall. looks like he’s in. http://twitpic.com/95ljta

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Keith Law: Cubs claim Luis Valbuena.

    • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil
    • Chadaudio

      What? Luis is out of minor league options… he’ll have to start on the big league team?

      Probably a trade then?… Or, is LaHair more hurt then we thought… or is DeWitt worse the the Cubs thought?

      • Carmelo

        What if we now trade Valbuena to Phillies. to keep Castillo–

      • cubs1967

        we are rebuilding…………just start rizzo and bjax and bring back wellington castillo and give the fans some hope…….
        STOP the retreads of dewitt-baker-reed-mather-camp-corpas–byrd——blah=blah-blah…..the W-L record does not matter……..

        • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

          Mather has earned a spot on this team!  I vehemently disagree with anyone who says he doesn’t deserve a shot. 

          Byrd won’t be here past the trade deadline.  I like that Theo isn’t just completely giving up and giving veterans away to other teams.  We need to be as competitive as possible without mortgaging the future.  That’s what I see happening.  

    • Ripsnorter1

      GOOD ACQUISTION!

      He’s a .193 hitter!

      • Tony_Hall

        He batted over 300 last year at AAA, but go ahead and take his avg from 2010.  He’s a utility IF, LH bat, with a little pop in his bat.

        • Chadaudio

          I think he can run a little bit too.

          Curious how they are going to make room on the roster for this guy though.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From Paul Sullivan: Castillo, Camp, Lopez all here.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From ESPN Chicago: Camp and Lendy Castillo in the clubhouse. No Corpas. Nothing official yet.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From ESPN Chicago: Campana here. Says he doesn’t know about his status yet.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From ESPN Chicago: Camp and Castillo make 6-man bullpen says Jed.

    • Chadaudio

      Huh.  Guess they will make another move again in couple weeks… figure they can’t last long with a 6 man bullpen.

      • cubtex

        I think you are right. Vostad,Mahom and Shark probably won’t go to far into their starts. Bullpen can get overworked early

        • Chadaudio

          Six man bullpen:1) Marmol
          2) Wood
          3) Russell
          4) Castillo
          5) Camp

          Who is the sixth? Corpas? Dolis?

          • Cloycub13

            Dolis is my guess

          • Ripsnorter1

            Guess again! You watch!

            DOWN BOY! GO DOWN, BOY!

            It’s a YOUTH movement! Haw haw!

          • cubtex

            Check this out….

            Kerry Wood- 34 with injury history. Good chance he will be on DL at some point this year.

            Shawn Camp- 36 years of age

            Lendy Castillo- Pitched in A ball last year. 0 innings MLB experience

            Rafael Dolis- 24 years of age. 1 inning mlb experience.

            It will be interesting to see how Sveum juggles these 4 to get to Marmol. I am sure we will see plenty of movement with the bullpen all year. Corpas, De La Cruz, R Wells, R Lopez should be on speed dial. :) 

          • Ripsnorter1

            And remember: that’s a six man bullpen. Juggling will be a  must!

          • cubtex

            Exactly!

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    ‏ INF Luis Valbuena claimed off waivers. Will make roster. Only 11-man pitching staff to start. 

    • cubtex

      Neil….maybe you or Tom could answer this. What does Valbuena give them that Cardenas or Edgar Gonzalez couldn’t. My guess is that Valbuena is a better glove and can play SS better than Cardenas. I liked what I saw from Cardenas this spring and thought they could use his lefthand bat more on the bench. Your thoughts?

      • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

        I think you are on the right track.

        Valbuena gives the Cubs a true backup for Castro at short. He has a good glove. I like Cardenas as well but as a second baseman only. Edgar Gonzalez does not give them the range they are looking for at short.

        • cubtex

          thanks. that is what I was thinking

        • Tom U

          I agree. Valbuena’s defensive stats across the board are better than DeWitt’s. 

          While DeWitt is the better hitter, its not by a wide margin. Since DeWitt can be sent down, I can see that happening or him asking for his release.

          • Chadaudio

            I don’t know, I think they already told DeWitt that he was going to be on the roster… Although that move may make sense – I would be surprised if they did it.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    From the Trib:Cubs claim Cleve IF Luis Valbuena off
    waivers. Lopez will not start season but will be called up quickly.
    Six-man bullpen for now.

  • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

    ‏Frankie De La Cruz outrighted. Team
    will go with 14 position players, 11 pitchers on Opening Day

  • Ripsnorter1

    WOW!

    I just read that Cubs’ tickets for April 11 or 12 for a mere $2 per ticket.

    Why wouldn’t you watch the Brewers and Aram?

    • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

      Interesting…I like that move.  Until we see if the Cubs will have any success that’s probably about what tickets should cost.  

      • Ripsnorter1

        Get ‘em off StubHub!

  • Tom U

    Matt Loosen is listed as the opening day starter for Daytona, while Nick Struck is listed for Tennessee.

  • Anthony

    “We need more talent; we lack impact talent,” Epstein said. “We have a number of interesting guys, especially at the lower levels, but every organization has a number of interesting guys at the lower level.”
    “We need some more impact talent, and we need some guys who have ability and can break through,” Epstein said. “It would be really nice to get a breakthrough player this year and have somebody move from that interesting prospect category to that potentially impact category. So we’ll see. There’s a lot of work to do.”

    lol lol lol

    Hey, how about BOS 2006 #1, general scout take was huge hitch, and 2010 still has many scratching their collective noggins

    One mans gem is several mens synthetic

    Expert more IFA’s before the due date