Cubs Move One Step Closer to Spring Training

Pitchers and catchers do not officially report to Fitch Park until next Sunday but the Cubs loaded the equipment truck on Friday destined for Mesa.

The Cubs announced six players from the system will join the big league team in camp this spring. Javier Baez will spend his spring with the Major League team but the Cubs have no plans to rush Baez to the majors. Baez figures to begin the year with the Daytona Cubs and is expected to see a majority of his playing time at shortstop, with a little third base mixed in according to the Tribune. Baez just turned 20 in December and has not played a full season of pro ball.

The Cubs received good news from Matt Garza on Friday. Garza completed his first bullpen session of the spring, right on schedule.

It is Groundhog Day, pitchers and catchers report in eight days and the Cubs kick off their 2013 Cactus League schedule in just 21 days …

Matt Garza

During the convention, Matt Garza said he was on track to throw his first bullpen session of the spring on February 1 … and Garza did just that on Friday. Garza tweeted that he completed his first pen of the spring on Friday and said he was happy to be back on the bump.

The Cubs avoided arbitration with Garza on the Thursday before the convention began and will pay the right-hander $10.25 million this season. There have been rumblings that the Cubs could decide to sign Garza to an extension after he proves he is healthy in the spring. Questions have surfaced if the Cubs would be better off with Garza on the team and moving forward with a trio of Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson and Garza at the top of the rotation than trading him for a smaller package than they would have received last July.

Matt Garza was 5-7 in 18 starts last season with a 3.91 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP before being shut down in July and spending the remainder of the year on the DL.

Kane County Cougars – Meet the Cubs

The Cubs new Class-A affiliate, the Kane County Cougars, hosted a ‘Meet the Cubs’ event on Friday night. Jason McLeod, Brandon Hyde and Cougars’ manager, Mark Johnson, were on hand and fielded several questions. The Daily Herald’s Bruce Miles tweeted several notes from Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.

  • Jason McLeod would not commit on which players would start the season with the Cougars, but let Albert Almora’s name slip out when answering the question.
  • When asked which player is a darkhorse in the Cubs’ system, Austin Reed was the name thrown out. Reed is the brother of White Sox closer, Addison Reed, and was selected by the Cubs in the 12th round of the 2010 draft. Reed posted a 5-8 record in 38 games, all out of the pen, last year for the Peoria Chiefs with a 3.65 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP (49 strikeouts, 24 walks and 67 hits allowed in 61 2/3 innings).
  • Brandon Hyde said Dan Vogelbach is more athletic than meets the eye but outfield is not in near future plans.
  • Jason McLeod said Javier Baez is more advanced at shortstop than Starlin Castro was at the same age. Baez turned 20 on December 1.
  • McLeod also said the Cubs are not in the process of rushing guys.
  • Mark Johnson was very complimentary of Dan Vogelbach. Johnson said Vogelbach was the best teammate you could ever have at Boise and both Vogelbach and Albert Almora “are team captains all the way to the big leagues.”
  • Brandon Hyde indicated that Albert Almora is a plus defender right now.

Non-Roster Invitees to Spring Training

The Cubs announced Friday that six players from the system will be in big league camp on non-roster invites. Javier Baez’s invitation was expected and he will likely spend a majority of the long Spring Training with the team. Baez was the most notable of the six players but another player to keep an eye on is catcher Rafael Lopez.

Rafael Lopez hit .279/.355/.394/.750 with 19 doubles, two triples and two home runs in 70 games last season over three levels of the Cubs’ system. Lopez played in 35 games for the D-Cubs and put together a .269/.338/.403 line with a .742 OPS and hit both of his home runs and 10 of his doubles in High-A.

The Cubs have officially invited 22 players to camp but two more could be announced soon. Dale Sveum said during the convention that they would have 64 players in camp this spring. And the other two players could be added once Lendy Castillo clears waivers and the signing of Scott Hairston is made official.

The following players will be in camp with the Cubs this spring:

Pitchers: Andrew Carpenter, Casey Coleman, Jaye Chapman, Dayan Diaz, Jensen Lewis, Blake Parker, Zach Putnam, Nick Struck, Hisanori Takahashi and Cory Wade

Catchers: J.C. Boscan, Michael Brenly and Rafael Lopez

Infielders: Javier Baez, Brent Lillibridge, Alberto Gonzalez, Edwin Maysonet and Brad Nelson

Outfielders: Brian Bogusevic, Johermyn Chavez and Darnell McDonald

News and Notes

Jim Hendry is his own toughest critic according to a report from the Sun-Times. Gordon Wittenmyer delivered an excellent report on the Cubs’ former GM … and in the article, Wittenmyer reported that according to one of his sources it was Crane Kenney that closed the deal to sign Alfonso Soriano.

The Mets signed Marlon Byrd to a minor league deal that included a non-roster invite to Spring Training. Byrd was traded to Boston last May then finished the year serving a 50-game suspension for testing positive to PEDs. Byrd is expected to compete for a job as the Mets’ fifth outfielder.

Chris Carpenter cleared waivers and was outrighted to the Red Sox’s Triple-A affiliate. There were rumblings when the Red Sox DFA’d Carpenter that the Cubs had interest in signing him if he cleared waivers. Carpenter was considered the big piece of the package that was sent to the Red Sox for Theo Epstein.

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  • Tom U

    Home team Mexico defeats Puerto Rico 3-0 to close out Day one of the Caribbean World Series

  • Aaron

    “Cubs and Northwestern to make major business announcement on Tuesday”

    This is just my opinion, but it’s likely not another football game, or they’d have no reason to delay the announcement.

    I would venture a guess that they could be using their school to research/develop a strategy for the Wrigley renovations…

    or, the more likely scenario that I see is they might be announcing plans to expand/renovate Rocky Miller Park (their baseball field), so the Cubs can play there during renovations for 2 years (in all likelihood).

    The other option, and one that I wish would happen (but is EXTREMELY unlikely) is that the Ricketts family finally stood up to Joseph Goebbels (aka Emmanuel), and told him to shove it, and their announcing plans to build a shared stadium in Evanston where Northwestern would use the field from February through May, and the teams would work around schedules. It would be a unique concept, and one that college teams have been using with minor league teams (typically Independent leagues) where they are able to generate even more revenue from sponsors, etc. during the college games. If the Cubs foot most of the bill, then they’d be able to split revenues for those games. Assuming Northwestern is willing to give land to the Cubs, it could be a great deal for everyone. The MLB season would really only interfere with college in April and part of August, and all of September.

    It’s a ridiculous idea, I know, but given the way Ald Tunney and Emmanuel have strong-armed the Cubs thus far, I’d say they really need to look into something like this, because with Chicago politics (for those of you on here that live in the area, you should know very well…I lived there too, so I know), it’s so corrupt that unless you play by their rules, give to their campaigns, and give in to the unions, you’re not going to get very far. There are lots of areas to the north side that would love to have the Cubs. Hell, even the Bears once looked at moving to the west suburbs (was it Hoffman Estates? can’t remember) because of Chicago politics.

    From the backwards way the city of Chicago is apparently siding with the rooftop owners who essentially steal the Cubs product to the night game restrictions, landmark restrictions, etc., I just think it’s time to move on. Look, I love Wrigleyville, and there is no questioning that it is a wonderful community area full of great restaurants, bars, and of course, whirly ball (one of the greatest games ever invented), but the fact is, you can somewhat recreate that neighborhood feel in another area, much like they are attempting to do with Wrigleyville West in Mesa. And it would come with less restrictions, because they would be in the driver’s seat.

    But I digress….the “major” announcement is probably something as little as choosing the same hot dog vendor. I just thought either of the latter two options would be intriguing.

    • Henry

      Aaron, I would prefer your Solution! Evanston has a thriving downtown area and would become a second Wrigleyville without the Cubs being held hostage by the neighborhood. We can only dream!

      • Aaron

        The thing I love about Evanston, is you still have train as an option to get there, much like the Wrigleyville area. That was always part of the attraction to me of going to Wrigley. And while I recognize the south side also has that, I didn’t want to risk my life taking the train down there…and neither did my parents want us to risk that, so almost by default we all became Cubs fans.

        I love Evanston…the Home Alone house and that whole neighborhood. It’s great. I don’t care too much for Chicago politics, and Evanston is a bit above that (not saying that it isn’t political at all, but hopefully you get my drift)

        • Henry

          The train is a great option. I still take the Howard L to Cubs games. Yes, Evanston is very political, however, you can set the ground rules much easier here than you can in Chicago. No landmark status, Nobody telling you how much advertising you can put in the ballpark.

    • Denio

      Aaron… Having left Chicago in 1973, I see the strong arm of politics in Chicago has only gotten worse..
      It would be great to see the Cubs tell the city to shove it and move to Evanston… But I remember in the early 70’s when the Bears were going to move in with Northwestern the local denizen’s didn’t want anything to do with them..
      If the Ricketts want to get the best deal with Chicago they will have to threaten to move and then the local’s will rise up against the city.
      Or the Mayor will send Vito and the boys to visit the Ricketts

    • calicub

      I think the mere bluff of exiting would put the City in its place.

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