Cubs Off-Season Kicks into Gear

The Cubs off-season picked up a little steam when news surfaced that the team had a low-level, informal discussion with Ryan Dempster about a possible return to the North Side of Chicago. The Cubs down played the discussion. Dempster is a free agent and is expected to sign a multi-year contract.

The Cubs announced Thursday the hiring of Anthony Iapoce as a special assistant to the GM for player development. Iopace spent the last three seasons as the minor league hitting coordinator for the Toronto Blue Jays. Anthony Iapoce will serve as the Cubs’ minor league hitting coordinator and contribute to other projects within the organization.

The Cubs announced Thursday that pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training on February 9 with the first on field workout scheduled for February 10.

Ryan Dempster
The unexpected news surfaced Thursday that the Cubs had a low-level, informal discussion with Ryan Dempster about a possible return. Dempster was finally dealt to Texas at the deadline after turning down a trade to Atlanta. The messy trade deadline saga with Dempster alienated some of the fan base and appeared to irritate the front office at the time.

Jed Hoyer said there are no hard feelings between the team and Dempster over what went down in July that would prevent the Cubs from bringing him back. Hoyer added there is mutual respect on both sides.

After the initial report surfaced from Carrie Muskat, the report was confirmed but it appears that it was a preliminary discussion between the team and Dempster.

Pitching, Pitching and More Pitching
The Cubs are looking to add at least two starting pitchers this off-season. According to a report from the Tribune, the Cubs “have spoken with representatives of several potential free agents, including Ryan Dempster, though it’s likely Dempster will be seeking a longer term deal that the Cubs are willing to touch.”

According to the Tribune, the Cubs “will have to convince any pitcher it’s in his best interest to come to a team in a rebuilding mode” unless the Cubs pull off a trade for a pitcher, like the Angels’ Dan Haren. Hoyer refused to discuss Haren with the Tribune but said “a one-year rental is a possibility for the Cubs.”

The Cubs could look at signing a pitcher like Brandon McCarthy to a one-year contract.

News and Notes
The Cubs confirmed that Javier Baez has a non-displaced fracture of the tip of his right thumb. Baez is expected to be ready to go when Spring Training begins. The injury occurred off the field in some sort of celebratory high-five according to multiple reports. Baez tried to play through the injury before leaving last Saturday’s game in the sixth inning.

According to a report from AZ Central, a proposed deal that would have allowed Arizona State University to share a new Chicago Cubs stadium in Mesa is dead. The report indicated ASU broke off talks with the Cubs.

Matt Garza remains on schedule to have another scan on his elbow this month according to a report from the Sun-Times. If all goes well, Garza is expected to begin a throwing program, The Cubs are still optimistic he will be at full strength when Spring Training begins on February 10.

According to a report from Bruce Levine, Dan Plesac will interview for the Cubs’ broadcast job next week. Eric Karros is also expected to receive an interview for the job to replace Bob Brenly in the Cubs’ booth.

Nick Struck made adjustments to his delivery during the season and he’s refining them in the AFL according to a report from the Tribune.

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Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax