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

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