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.
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 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.