An Even Flow of Cubs Information

The Cubs kick off their 2013 Cactus League schedule in exactly one month, February 23 against an Angels’ split squad in Tempe, and pitchers and catchers officially report to Fitch Park in 18 days … baseball is just around the corner.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer still have work to do with their roster. The Cubs have yet to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Carlos Villanueva, who reportedly agreed to terms on a two-year, $10 million contract on December 20. The Cubs indicated during the convention they would be making the official announcement on Villanueva very soon. Multiple reports have suggested that the Cubs would still like to add an outfielder to the mix and there could be other options available, like Chris Carpenter, as other teams around the league continue to tweak their rosters.

The Cubs should also announce in the near future the remaining players that will be in big league camp on non-roster invitations. Dale Sveum said that there will be 64 players in camp this spring which would leave eight players from the organization that will receive non-roster invites.

Chattin’ with Bruce Levine

Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his weekly chat on ESPN Chicago, here are the highlights …

  • Levine thinks Matt Garza could be the Cubs’ Opening Day starter … if he’s built up enough innings in Spring Training and is ready to pitch in the cold in Pittsburgh.
  • Trading Starlin Castro for Justin Upton would be a lateral move according to Levine and he would not deal Castro with the hope that Javier Baez will be able to take his place. Levine said that “most baseball people believe Castro will hit 25-30 homers per season in the very near future.”
  • The last time the Cubs and Phillies discussed a deal for Alfonso Soriano was in November … and have not spoken about it since Philadelphia acquired Ben Revere. (Note: Levine has been very consistent with this report and has said countless times that one of the pitchers the Cubs and Phillies discussed went to Minnesota in the Ben Revere trade)
  • According to Levine, Ian Stewart was not honest with the Cubs about his injury last year and there were people in the organization that wondered why Stewart left the team after he went on the DL.
  • The Cubs $300 million restoration plan for Wrigley Field will not affect the Cubs payroll.
  • The Rick Porcello rumor remains just that, a rumor. Levine said if the Tigers were interested in any of the Cubs’ relievers a deal could be worked out … but that has not been the case.
  • Levine does not think Matt Garza would bring back the same group of young players that he would have at the trade deadline last year … plus two straight years of elbow and forearm injuries have lowered his value. Levine thinks the best case scenario would be for Garza to be healthy and pitch well in Spring Training and the Cubs sign him to a long-term extension toward the end of spring or early in the season.
  • As for who will be traded first … Garza, Carlos Marmol or Alfonso Soriano, Levine thinks Marmol will be dealt in Spring Training once teams realize they need help in the pen.

Alfonso Soriano, Scott Hairston and the Outfield

It looks like the Cubs lost a possible landing spot for Alfonso Soriano on Tuesday when the Phillies signed Delmon Young to a one-year, $750,000 contract to play right field. The contract includes an incentive package worth an additional $3.5 million. If healthy, the Phillies expect Young to play right field with John Mayberry Jr, Darin Ruf, Laynce Nix and Domonic Brown competing for a spot in left field. The Phillies indicated that Young could start the year on the DL due to off-season ankle surgery.

The Cubs said over the weekend that they were happy with Alfonso Soriano and that he was the Cubs’ left fielder.

There is mutual interest between the Cubs and Scott Hairston … and the Phillies were also in the mix for Hairston but apparently not at the two-year, $8 million asking price. According to Comcast SportsNet, the Cubs continue to court Scott Hairston.

Chris Carpenter

The Boston Red Sox designated Chris Carpenter for assignment on Tuesday to make room on the 40-man roster for Mike Napoli. Carpenter was considered the main piece of the compensation package sent to Boston for Theo Epstein.

Carpenter was sent to Boston on February 21, 2012 but began the season on the DL after undergoing surgery to remove a bone spur in his right elbow. Carpenter picked up his first big league win on September 14 in Toronto and was 1-0 in eight games for the Red Sox with a 9.00 ERA and a 2.83 WHIP (two strikeouts and 10 walks in six innings). Carpenter was 1-0 in 21 games, four starts, in four stops in the Sox system last year with a 2.08 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP.

Aaron Kurcz was the other player sent to Boston in the Theo Epstein compensation saga. Kurcz posted a 3-4 record in 29 games with a 3.04 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP (72 strikeouts and 27 walks in 50 1/3 innings).

Chris Carpenter has value and it will be interesting to see if a team tries to make a deal for the hard-throwing right-hander … according to a report from Bruce Levine, the Cubs are interested in a reunion with Carpenter if he is put on waivers.

Scott Baker

Scott Baker is nine months removed from Tommy John surgery and said during the convention that he thinks he will be ready to start the season on the active roster. Baker had surgery last April and began mound progression a few weeks ago according to Comcast SportsNet. Baker is not sure how much the Cubs will let him participate early on in Spring Training but he is hoping they will not hold him back too much.

According to the report from Comcast SportsNet, Baker would be open to staying with the Cubs if he fits the team’s long-term plans.

News, Notes and Rumors

Ken Rosenthal connected David Price to the Cubs through new Minor League Pitching Coordinator, Derek Johnson. Johnson was Price’s pitching coach at Vanderbilt. Rosenthal admitted that his “conspiracy theory” was a stretch considering Price is not eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season.

While David Price could be a stretch, Derek Johnson was the pitching coach for two relievers in the Cubs’ system … Casey Weathers and Jensen Lewis.

Kyle Farnsworth has narrowed his decision to two teams according to a report from Jerry Crasnick … and one of the teams is the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Tigers are still trying to move Rick Porcello according to Danny Knobler.

The Dodgers’ new TV deal just keeps getting better and better. According to multiple reports on Tuesday, the Dodgers and Time Warner have reached an agreement to create a Dodgers TV Network that could be worth $7-$8 billion dollars.

The Cubs still have several years remaining on their current TV deals with WGN (runs through the 2014 season) and Comcast SportsNet (runs through the 2019 season). Comcast SportsNet pays the Cubs $500,000 per game for their telecasts.

… And in case anyone missed the “hints” sent out by the Cubs and Pearl Jam, Eddie Vedder and Company will be playing at Wrigley Field this year.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

Quote of the Day

"Baseball, just a game as simple as a ball and a bat. Yet, as complex as the American spirit it symbolizes." - Ernie Harwell
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  • Tom U

    Leones de Escogido won their second straight DWL titke to go to the Caribbean World Series.

  • SuzyS

    It’s going to be interesting to see what type of moves the Cubs make in the next couple of weeks.
    There’s very little “fluff” on the 40 man roster just now.
    If the Cubs are interested in Hairston AND Carpenter…along with Villanueva…that’s 3 changes to the 40 man roster.
    Whom do you trade/dfa to make room for the three?
    I have no clue…but Campana might not survive.

    • Brp921

      I can’t imagine Boston putting Carpenter on waivers with all the fuss about the Theo compensation. If the Cubs were to pick him back up Boston would look like big losers on that deal. You never know though, they need to do what’s best for their team.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Raymond-Robert-Koenig/1295439291 Raymond Robert Koenig

        The Red Sox are big losers no matter how they’re looked at.

        • Brp921

          Good one :)

    • calicub

      Your right suzy, as i see it if the cubs do in fact add another OF’r T.Camp is gone, much to my chagrin. But who goes for Villanueva and possibly Carpenter?

      Its gotta be:

      Lendy Castillo –

      who would give him a 40 man spot? with the quality of guys being dfa’d at this point in the offseason (Carpenter being just one example) i’d think a team would save a spot for someone with more experience/potential than he seems to bring.

      or one of:

      Rusin/Raley – One or both of these guys is almost irrelevant at this point to the big club in that they are at the bottom, or close to it in terms of sp depth. (garza, shark, jackson, baker, feldman, baker, villanueva, wood, Raley, Rusin, Bowden, Cabrera) I see raley getting picked up before rusin though and Bowden and Cabrera sticking around, Bowden b/c of the BoSox connection and Cabrera because they singled him out as someone they had their eye on.

      As for another OF’r, how about Scotty Pods (Posednik)? I’d take Campana any day, but they seem insistent about adding more depth out there. He adds decent defense can play all OF positions, would replace some of the speed lost by campana, and can still hit, as evidenced by last year…

      • mutantbeast

        Scotty is a slower version of Campana, another LH hitter, and cant play CF all that well anymore. Cubs need a RH bat that can play CF. Right now, Hairston is likely the only option barring a trade.

      • Shawon O’Meter

        Scotty Pods is shot. He is a liability in the field these days. Excellent story who’s time is now long past.

        • calicub

          well if the twitter is right we needn’t discuss it any more as that position seems to be filled!

  • Mac
    • calicub

      Thanks for the share Mac. The cubs former ownership certainly put the Ricketts between a rock and hard place. 20 years of restrictions from rooftops, untenable contracts, locked in tv contracts (despite being lucrative, the cubs would be better off with their own network but i digrees), and a pattern of rolling over and taking it when the community says no. What i don’t understand is how a neighborhood built around a ballpark that has been around and in use for almost 100 years, expects the ball club to live around their needs. (ironically similar to the bad feelings in the town i went to college where resentment was aimed at students who flooded the town during the year even though the school had been there some ten years before its incorporation but anyway..) People didn’t move to wrigleyville expecting to be free from the inconvienence 80+ games a year would bring. In fact i can imagine for a large share of that community, Wrigley WAS the drawing factor of that neighborhood. Feels good to vent!

      FInally i don’t get why all these reactions talk about the cubs wanting more concerts at the ball park, but from what i understand they just said they hope to curtail public events like concerts in order to maintain the quality and pristine nature of the new field.

      Did i miss something?

      • Rational Logic

        Excellent points made. I don’t understand how people can be upset, when changes like this are inevitable. Fans and the community should understand this was bound to happen and focus on what is actually going on, and how great the changes will be. It is going to bring in a lot of money to both the Cubs, Ricketts, and businesses in the area.

        I’m 25 and have a group of friends working to invest in a multi-family 2-4 apartment building in Chicago, and Wrigleyville just jumped to the top of our list considering the investment going into the community that the community won’t have to pay for! (Any investors? haha)

        As another side note, I also work for a bank who is part of the syndicate to lend the Rickett’s the money needed for the acquisition. There is a lot of language about using the funds to build in the real estate surrounding Wrigley and give the community and area a much needed face lift. I loved it then, and love it now.

        I, for one, am glad to actually have a savvy business end to the operation and help the organization continue to grow in other ways than the product on the field. I know there was a lot of fear that the Ricketts were purely in this for the business end and wanted Wrigley field as a real estate investment to produce cash flow (they are) but I think they’ve done an excellent job in bringing in the right people to help build a strong on-field product (Epstein & Hoyer & McLeod). I’m excited as I’ve ever been as a Chicago resident, Cubs Fan, and dare I say it…investor!

    • triple

      Thanks for posting that link. I gotta say that I really agree with how the FO is handling this renovations situation. Hopefully the city bows out and lets the Cubs do what they need for the ballpark. I really hate to say it, but at this point, if it doesn’t go the way it needs to go to make the changes and add to the facilities which will help build a better ballclub and increase revenue, I really wouldn’t mind if it came down to the Cubs deciding to build a new ball park somewhere else in Chicago (I know that is so SACRILEGIOUS), because as soon as that threat is made, all the Wrigleyville residents will probably, all of a sudden, be okay with 50 night games and the extra hoopla that comes with the Cubs when they realize how much their property value will go down. And if it did go to measures as drastic as that, they could basically build a replica of the ballpark somewhere else and include the best state of the art facilities instead of what they have to work with in the current location.

  • Mac
    • Rational Logic

      Those Chicago politicians sure know their way around finances. Historically shrewd.

  • Wiscago

    Anyone else think of Portillos every time Porcello is mentioned? Man I’m hungry for some Wrigley dogs.

    • Tony_Hall

      We need a Portillo’s to come to Rockford….we either have to drive to Sycamore or go to the one just west of Woodfield.

      • Cubs4ever

        They need alot of things in Rockford :)

        • Tony_Hall

          I agree, I live north of Rockford, but if any place close to me is going to get a Portillos, it will be right off 90 in Rockford.

      • Tom U

        Why would you need a Portillo’s when you already have a Cheddar’s?

        • Tony_Hall

          Cheddar’s has been gone a long time.

          As with all restaurants, we remember desserts. They took a big chocolate chip cookie, topped it with ice cream, whip cream and fudge…

          • Tom U

            That’s too bad. They also had a great cheddar cheese soup. I hadn’t been out that way since my daughter was taking dance lessons in Machesney Park

      • Henry

        tony, I am in Rockford once a week! Portillos would be great! I have never been in a beef a roo. Are they any good?

        • Tony_Hall

          Henry – Just had beef a roo tonight!

          They are good, just not Portillo’s. I could go for an Italian Beef and fries.

      • DWalker

        I work not far from the Sycamore one, I swear we have meetings at our office just cause everyone wants to go to Portillos. I always heard Portillo’s had almost opened a rockford location and then the mayors office got a hand in it and when it was all over with, Dick said there would probably never be one in Rockford. Thats too bad, cause I wish they would expand west. and yes to the original question and mark me down for a bacon cheese burger.

  • Tom U

    I just posted a picture album of the 9-1-12 Peoria game on the CCO Facebook page http://tinyurl.com/a3f4x7c

  • SuzyS
    • paulcatanese

      Seems as though I have seen that scenerio somewhere before.
      At any rate, unless they repaint the whole stadium
      and get rid of some of the plants(and scoreboard)
      I would pass, completely, on any purchase.
      Has to be the ugliest ballpark ever.

      • SuzyS

        Agreed.

  • Tom U

    A picture of Tony Campana in Venezuela

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/BBU1oqACEAEW-79.jpg:large

  • Tom U

    Here’s a link to a live stream feed of game 1 in the VWL championships.

    http://new.livestream.com/LVBP/events/1826797

    Carlos Zambrano starts for Magallanes, Luis Valbuena batting 5th for Lara