Cubs Pitchers and Catchers Report to Fitch Park

Charley Steiner once said, “There is something liberating about those magical words, pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.” The off-season is over … the Cubs’ baseball season officially begins today.

FitchEntrance-10While a majority of the pitchers and catchers on the Cubs’ Spring Training roster has already reported to Fitch Park, the mandatory reporting date is today. The players will take physicals and have meetings with the coaching staff on Monday with the first official on-field workout scheduled for Tuesday. Along with the pitchers and catchers that are already in camp, many of the position players have reported as well … report date for position players is February 16 with the first full squad workout scheduled for Monday, February 17.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are expected to meet with the media on Sunday to give their ‘State of the Cubs’ address prior to the official kickoff of camp. The Cubs will hold their annual organizational meetings Tuesday and Wednesday in the Phoenix area.

Two weeks from today, the Cubs will already have one Spring Training game under their belt and will be preparing for their final Cactus League opener at HoHoKam Park …

Carlos Marmol

Carlos Marmol is expected to be in camp on time and reportedly Marmol will arrive at Fitch Park on Sunday night. Marmol begins what is likely his final Spring Training with the Cubs after a rough off-season. Marmol was nearly dealt to the Angels for Dan Haren then saw the Cubs, who owe him $9.8 million for the third and final year of his contract, sign a closer to a two-year guaranteed contract.

Then the news surfaced about allegations of domestic violence against Marmol. The Cubs are treating the matter seriously. But news surfaced Friday that Marmol’s case had been sent to the Dominican Republic’s high court. Marmol’s lawyers have filed counter suits against the alleged victim of extortion and blackmail. Epstein said Friday that the Cubs believe Marmol is innocent and his lawyer said that he will be ready for the start of Spring Training.

From all indications the Cubs are still trying to trade Marmol and rumors have suggested they will likely do so during Spring Training as contending teams search for proven answers for the backend of their bullpen.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have recently said that Carlos Marmol is the Cubs’ closer.

Kyuji Fujikawa

According to a report from the Sun-Times, Kyuji Fujikawa has already put in three days worth of bullpen work at Fitch Park. Fujikawa met with the Chicago media and six members of the Japanese media on Saturday. Fujikawa arrived to Mesa a week early and is ready to close games for the Cubs if needed this season.

Fujikawa was glad to hear about the new rule that allows coaches to take interpreters to the mound during games but the Cubs have not said if they will take advantage of the new addition to the MLB Rule Book.

Jeff Samardzija

Details of the one-year, $2.64 million contract that Jeff Samardzija signed to avoid arbitration in January were released on Saturday. Samardzija agreed to a one-year deal that paid him the exact amount that he earned last year but it also includes $125,000 incentive package based on innings pitched. According to Carrie Muskat, Samardzija will earn an additional $25,000 for 180 innings, $25,000 for 185 innings, $25,000 for 190 innings, $25,000 for 195 innings and $25,000 for 200 innings pitched.

Chattin’ with Bruce Levine and Jesse Rogers

Mr. Talkin’ Baseball held his weekly chat Tuesday on ESPN Chicago and Jesse Rogers, the new Cubs beat reporter for ESPN Chicago, held his weekly chat on Friday … here are the highlights:

  • From the way Bruce Levine understands it, the Cubs and Tigers have not discussed a Rick Porcello for Carlos Marmol swap.
  • Levine thinks it is an open competition at third base this spring between Ian Stewart and Luis Valbuena … but if Stewart is healthy, he will start at third base for the Cubs on Opening Day.
  • Levine does not think the Cubs are interested in putting Travis Wood in the bullpen.
  • Speaking of the Cubs’ pen, Levine thinks Carlos Marmol will be traded by Opening Day. According to Levine, Marmol has tons of value out there. Levine thinks the Cubs would be willing to deal Marmol for young pitching talent and some left-handed bullpen help.
  • The Cubs worked long and hard trying to get Lonnie Chisenhall from the Indians or Mike Olt from Texas but neither team was interested in moving either player at this point.
  • Matt Garza’s previous injuries are a concern for the Cubs.
  • Chris Rusin is a possibility for the bullpen to join fellow southpaw, James Russell. Dontrelle Willis is a longshot to make the Cubs pen as a loogy.
  • Rogers thinks that the fifth spot in the rotation is Travis Wood’s job to lose.
  • Rogers does not see a way that Brett Jackson starts the year with the Cubs … but he thinks he will finish the season with the big league team.

Spring Training News Bites

Matt Garza threw his second official bullpen session on Saturday. Garza is reportedly pain free and is ahead of his typical off-season schedule.

The bunting tournament will return this spring but due to a lack of players, the front office will compete for a spot in the field of 64 … and Theo Epstein is expected to square off against Jed Hoyer in the first round.

Scott Feldman completed his first bullpen session on Saturday.

Reggie Golden is healthy and is one of the early arrivals to Spring Training. According to a report from Carrie Muskat, the Cubs’ number two pick in the 2010 draft is happy to be back after missing last year with a leg injury (hyperextended his knee in the seventh game of the year). Golden has been impressed with how Dale Sveum interacts with the young players and is looking forward to playing for him.

While the Cubs will not be a part of ESPN’s Spring Training coverage or previews, the 30 in 30 segments on the MLB Network begin on February 15 … and the first stop is the Chicago Cubs at Fitch Park.

Cubs Front Office Moves

The Cubs announced two changes to their front office on Thursday in the wake of Wally Hayward’s resignation. Alex Sugarman was promoted to Senior Vice President of Strategy and Development and Colin Faulkner’s role was officially expanded.

Alex Sugarman advised the Ricketts family during the sale of the team and was officially hired by the Cubs in 2010. Sugarman will play a key role in the Wrigley Field restoration project according to a report from Crain’s Chicago Business and in the team’s broadcast rights. The Cubs are currently under contract with WGN-TV through the 2014 season and with Comcast SportsNet through the 2019 season. The Ricketts family, as part of the purchase when they bought the team, owns a 20 percent stake in Comcast SportsNet.

Colin Faulkner will take on some of the responsibilities previously held by Wally Hayward. Among Faulkner’s new duties will be overseeing the Cubs’ corporate partnerships and managing the team’s relationship with W Partners, Wally Hayward’s new company.

Full Report from Crain’s Chicago Business

News and Notes

According to a report from ESPN Chicago, Jeff Samardzija is glad to see Major League Baseball to start testing for HGH.

The New York Mets are signing former Cubs to minor league deals this off-season. In addition to inking Marlon Byrd to a minor league contract, the Metropolitans recently signed both LaTroy Hawkins and Corey Patterson to minor league contracts.

Rich Hill signed on with the Cleveland Indians and his minor league contract includes a non-roster invite to big league camp. Former Cub, Robert Coello, signed a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Angels … and both Matt Tolbert and Joe Mather inked minor league deals with the Phillies that included non-roster invites to Spring Training.

Bill James said on MLB Network Radio that in his opinion the most important stats for pitchers are ERA, SO/BB ratio and the ability to consistently pitch the most innings. During the same interview, FanGraphs’ Dave Cameron said the pitchers’ stats he values the most are BB rate, SO rate, home run rates, number of hits in play and strand rate.

On September 24, 1985 one of the wildest games in Wrigley Field history took place. Chris Jaffe of the Hardball Times recapped the game between the Cubs and Expos.

Tickets for the Pearl Jam show on July 19 at Wrigley Field went on sale on Saturday morning … and became the fastest concert sell-out in the history of the old ballyard.

For those monitoring the mega-TV deals being signed throughout Major League Baseball, the Padres are the latest big league team to cash in on a new television contract. The Padres will receive $200 million in upfront money as part of the Fox Sports San Diego right deal with Dish Network. The new agreement between Fox Sports San Diego and Dish Network that was announced on Wednesday is valued at $1.2 billion over 30 years and the Padres own 20 percent of the regional sports network.

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Quote of the Day

"In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than you fear of failure." - Bill Cosby
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  • SuzyS

    Somehow Neil…even on slow news days, you manage to get out a great report…Thanks.
    Just read one of the best pieces I’ve seen on Mark Prior.
    If Prior and Wood could have kept healthy…How different it might have all been….http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20130207&content_id=41477950&c_id=mlb

  • Ripsnorter1

    If Ian Stewart is breathing, he wins the 3B job. A .199 Stewart is better than a .199 Valbuena, for both the glove and the power.

    • SuzyS

      Stewart is an X factor. He could bomb out…but then he could hit .250-.270 with 20 plus homers.
      He’s fighting for his major league career. He won’t get an opportunity to be a starter again if he doesn’t do it this year.
      3rd belongs to someone else next season…this is Stewart’s opportunity in the sun.

      • Brp921

        My gut tells me Stewart has a good year.

        • DWalker

          I’ve been optimistic on Stewart from the start. He should be a decent 3rd base in theory. That said, it comes down to if his injury was the issue or if his attitude/ability was the real issue. I am less confident now then I was at the end of the season his injury was the real problem. As far as Valbuena goes, I’ve never been hot on him, and despite his off season hot streak, I still am not hot on him. Until he shows he can hit at the ML level, he’s still the same guy we saw last year. I wish I could disagree on vitters as well, but he hasn’t so far looked like he’ll make it in the majors. I’ll be honest, I don’t look for this years 3rd base situation to be much better than last years.

    • bluekoolaidaholic

      Negative or not, Rip, you are spot on re: Vitters.

      I think it will be interesting to see how Stewart does. After Valbuena’s great improvement this off season, he will be breathing down Stewart’s neck. IMHO Stewart is in the same situation as Vitters. Time to perform, no more excuses.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Padres got $200 million up front on their TV deal? I just heard Chase Headley say, “I’ll take all of that for my contract!”

  • Ripsnorter1

    Speaking of Padres, they are moving the fences in at Petco. Too bad for Clayton Richard. His career Petco ERA = 2.82….everywhere else…..5.05.

  • Ripsnorter1

    The Cubs efforts to get Olt or Chisenhall for 3B is full proof that they have ZERO hope for Vitters.

    BTW….at this point, Vitters hasn’t the power for 3B, 1B, LF or RF. He hasn’t the glove for CF or 2B or SS. He isn’t a catcher. He doesn’t have the glove to beat out a Luis Valbuena as a utility infielder. He’s not a pitcher. He doesn’t hit for enough average and power to be a DH somewhere.

    What does that leave?

    Nothing.

    • Tony_Hall

      Rip, you must have taken the a double negativity dose this weekend….you have been in rare form.

      Why are you spending so much time beating up on Vitters? He won’t be back unless he improves in Iowa or has a Colvinesque spring training.

      Olt and Chisenhall are better players than Vitters, that is why they have been trying to trade for them.

      I don’t think they have zero hope for Vitters, as much as they have little confidence he can fill 3B this year or even in the future. His D needs a lot of work to stay at 3B and the guys behind him are going to push him out if he doesn’t move up. He needs a very good spring to change that are his role with the Cubs is going to be as a bench player that play 3B/1B/LF.

      • Ripsnorter1

        It’s Spring Training. I’m gearing up for the season.

        • Tony_Hall

          Remember practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.

          Glad to see you getting in your daily reps!

          • Ripsnorter1

            LOL

            How’s that Kool-Aid tasting so far? I’ve had a few doses myself this past winter. It’s amazing what 10 degrees below zero will do to your mind….

            I am so-o-o-o-o-o-o looking forward to ST games starting! We CCOers will have a great year watching the Cubs!

          • Tony_Hall

            I get all the kool-aide comments, but I am not predicting a playoff appearance this year. I am just completely on board with the path they are taking to rebuild this franchise from the ground up. The lower floors are all done, at the A ball levels, here’s to hoping we can say the same thing about AA after this year.

            But I do believe this team can be competitive for awhile this year, or at least I hope they can be for much longer than last year when it was about a week…maybe.

  • Tony_Hall

    We wait all winter, debating the move, the non-moves, the rumors, discussing who is done and is just starting.

    We discuss whose working out, and who is playing in winter ball.

    We want to know why there is no activity, then, complain about the moves that are made.

    We debate why are they not adding this guy to make this year better versus building the foundation for sustained success to have a team that every single year has a chance to make the playoffs and compete for a World Series?

    We go back and forth, and repeat our discussions over and over, trying to rationalize our point of view, or sometimes, even see it from a different perspective.

    We do all of this to get through winter, and what a winter we have had.

    Now the discussion turns to practices and soon to spring training games.

    How good is that prospect, we keep hearing about? Now we get to see him next to big leaguers.

    Is that veteran done, or does he have one more season under the son, to shine and show that he’s still a ballplayer?

    How is that player recovering from injury? Will he be available on Opening Day!

    This player is really in shape, but what happen to him?

    Hope is everywhere and why not, every team starts the season 0-0. Real games will decide who is good,
    who is close, and who needs to rebuild or keep rebuilding. How will the Cubs finish the year, no one really knows, but one thing is for sure, if this is “The Year”, then we will all be cheering and rooting our
    team all the way.

    The best part of pitchers and catchers reporting to camp, officially…we are one day closer to seeing our Boys in Blue, playing on the green grass at Wrigley.

    It’s time to start practicing…

  • redlarczykg

    One of the biggest pot holes on the Cubs beyond 3rd Base, is another effective lefty in the bullpen. I still can’t get over the loss of Jeff Beliveue. I can’t see Rusin or Raley filliing the roll and as mentioned above I guess Travis Woods is not being considered.

    Maybe a trade or a scrape heep pickup, but I’m just wondering on this dark rainy day what the Cubs brain trust have up their sleve? Any free agent who I don’t know about?
    ,

    • Tony_Hall

      You can’t get over losing Jeff Beliveau….

      Besides for 40 man guys Rusin and Raley as potential options for another lefty in the pen and the long shot of Willis. (really long), there is also Hisanori Takahashi as an option.

      Keep in mind, there is nothing that says they have to have even 1 lefty, let alone 2 in the bullpen at all times.

      But maybe this will help you get over Beliveau

      2012 WHIP 1.868 with the Cubs

      2012 WHIP 1.409 in Iowa

      Lots of k’s but a really high WHIP once he started facing higher level batters.

      • Ray Ray

        If you are judging Beliveau by Whip lets do the same with the other lefties they kept.

        Chris Rusin 1.652 Whip with Cubs

        1.418 with Iowa

        Brooks Raley 1.808 Whip with Cubs

        1.402 with Iowa

        Travis Wood 1.563 Whip 2011 with Louisville

        1.427 Whip with Iowa in 2012

        • Tony_Hall

          I don’t believe Rusin or Raley to be around for a long time, just fillers. Once they move one of them to the bullpen, we should see their WHIPs come down.

          I also love how you chose the most negative way to portray Wood, who had a 1.199 WHIP last year at the major league level, which would seem so much more relevant than picking out his mnor league stats.

          • Ray Ray

            Exactly. Wood was not written off by you but Beliveau is??? And, you failed to mention Beliveau only pitched 17 innings with Cubs. Do you see how small sample sizes are misleading?

          • Tony_Hall

            I don’t believe I wrote off Beliveau, he was released and is gone. I am just not too worried about losing him.

            Wood performed at 1.199 level at the major league level. He has some ability.

          • redlarczykg

            Tony,

            I respect your insights as a regular on this site, but as mentioned above Jeff had a very limited time in the show and yes, he choked.

            But his five year over all record in the minors had an era of 2.86. pitched 314 in.- hits 244 – so 407 – walks 140 with a WHIP of 1.22.

            I hope we don’t miss him, but I do believe we will. Only time will tell…time Cub management didn’t give him.

          • Tony_Hall

            Absolutely we could miss him. You never know when something could click for a player and the potential they have shown comes out. Sometimes it is a change of scenary, a new coach, etc that brings it out. That is why the rules on the 40 man and how long you can control a player in the minors are in place, so that guys can not be buried in a system forever.

            But keep in mind he performed well through AA in 2011, then was poor even in AAA last year.

  • Ripsnorter1

    If we are worrying over LHP in the bullpen, Travis Wood isn’t going back to AAA Iowa.–he’s out of options. He’s sticking with the big club, and into the bullpen he goes if he can’t beat out Feldman, Baker and Villaneuva.

    Starting Five:
    Garza
    Samardzija
    Jackson
    Baker/Feldman’Villaneuva/Wood

    • Tony_Hall

      I think if all are healthy the rotation is:

      Garza
      Samardzija
      Jackson
      Baker
      Wood

      But I believe they will DL Baker to start the year and Feldman will get his spot. Villanueva is in the bullpen, and if he gets a shot this year it will be later in the year.

  • Tony_Hall

    I guess we will now see if any other team out there will use a 40 man roster spot on Campana….

    To me this was about timing and they are trying to sneak him through when everyone has their 40 mans set for ST.

  • Ray Ray

    Goodbye Tony Campana.

    • Tony_Hall

      He’s not gone yet, he may clear waivers and end up in Iowa.

  • http://theboardridersuite.wordpress.com/ Theboardrider

    Great news about Golden! I’ve always liked him and if he stays healthy could be a starter down the line.