Day Four of Cubs Camp: Who’s Backing Up Rizzo and All Eyes on the Throwing Sessions

Three-fifths of the Cubs projected rotation and a majority of the backend of the pen completed bullpen sessions at Fitch Park on Wednesday.

Jeff Samardzija, Matt Garza, Edwin Jackson, Shawn Camp, Carlos Marmol and James Russell threw off the practice mounds on Wednesday with Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Jason McLeod, Dale Sveum and Chris Bosio in attendance for the sessions.

According to multiple reports, Jeff Samardzija was in midseason form and threw an impressive bullpen while Edwin Jackson was throwing at about 80 percent. As for Matt Garza, he is still working his way back from the stress reaction injury.

Dale Sveum was happy with the way all three pitchers threw the ball on Wednesday and he is glad to have three power arms at the top of his rotation that have a chance to throw a no-hitter every time they take the mound.

Who (Else) is on First?

Who will back up Anthony Rizzo this season? Rizzo is the only first baseman on the Cubs’ roster with the way it is currently constructed … and the Cubs’ pan on addressing that problem this spring.

Welington Castillo and Dioner Navarro will see time at first base when the spring games begin. And while Steve Clevenger can fill in as well, he does not figure to break camp with the big league team. That is one of the reasons that Brent Lillibridge has an excellent shot of being with the Cubs on Opening Day in Pittsburgh.

Lillibridge can play all of the positions in the infield and outfield and is a right-handed bat that could hit leadoff against lefties. According to multiple reports on Wednesday, Lillibridge will also see time at first base this spring.

The Tribune reported that Ian Stewart is another possibility for a backup at first base.

With Anthony Rizzo leaving camp to play with Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic, the Cubs will have plenty of time to look at different backup options at first base.

Scott Hairston

The Cubs’ newest outfielder reported to Fitch Park on Wednesday; put on a Cubs’ hat for the first time and was issued No. 21. Scott Hairston said he will enjoy wearing the number while he can because he thinks the Cubs will eventually retire the number. Hairston grew up a White Sox fan because of his father but said he enjoyed watching Sammy Sosa “do his thing” when he would go watch games at Wrigley Field.

Hairston grew up in Naperville and is the third Hairston to play for the Cubs.

According to a report from the Tribune, the Cubs had real interest in signing him and while he was happy both New York teams pursued him, the Cubs wanted him the most.

Scott Hairston is projected to platoon with Nate Schierholtz in right field and according to the Sun-Times, Hairston could see time in centerfield and in left and he is capable of playing second base if needed.

Tony Campana

According to a report from Bruce Levine, the White Sox put in a claim on Tony Campana last August but the Cubs pulled him back and the two teams could not work out a deal. It is common practice for teams to put just about their entire roster on waivers in August in order to gauge which team or teams may have interest in their players … and sometimes the interest shown in August can lead to trades in the winter.

According to Levine’s sources, the Cubs and White Sox had not discussed Campana as of Wednesday.

The Cubs designated Campana for assignment on February 10 and have 10 days to trade him. If Campana is not dealt, he will go on waivers and if he remains unclaimed the Cubs have the option to re-signing him to a minor league contract.

Cubs Add Two Saturday Night Games to 2013 Schedule

FOX released their broadcast schedule for the upcoming season on Tuesday. FOX’s 24-week schedule begins on April 6 and the primetime coverage begins on May 25.

2013 Cubs Games on FOX: Cubs vs. Giants on April 13 (11:30am CDT); Diamondbacks vs. Cubs on June 1 (6:00pm CDT); Cubs vs. Mariners on June 29 (6:00pm CDT); Cubs vs. Cardinals on July 13 (6:00pm CDT); Cubs vs. Dodgers on August 3 (2:30pm CDT); Cubs vs. Brewers on September 7 (11:30am CDT)

The games against Arizona and St. Louis are both at Wrigley Field.

Spring Training News Bites

Rick Sutcliffe was involved in the Cubs’ organizational meetings and apparently came away impressed. Sutcliffe tweeted, “Amazing the upgrade in talent in just one year!”

Tim Sheridan had a chance to speak with Theo Epstein on Wednesday while watching the workouts at Fitch Park.

Jesse Rogers spoke with Dioner Navarro on Wednesday morning. The Cubs’ backstop told Rogers, “Who wouldn’t want to play for the Cubs? I have a good history of going to bad teams and trying to turn them around a little bit. That’s one of my goals this year.”

Darwin Barney is hoping to establish himself this season as one of the best second basemen in the league by becoming more of an all-around player according to a report from the Tribune. Barney is looking to improve his offense while maintaining his Gold Glove performance in the field. Barney made a few tweaks to his mechanics in order to help him be more consistent at the plate.

All is good between Edwin Jackson and Steve Clevenger according to a report from the Sun-Times.

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer will square off in the first round of the bunting tournament on Saturday … the media relations staff and several of the clubhouse crew will also face off to determine the final spot in the field of 64. Anyone in the Cubs’ front office with pro ball experience is not allowed to compete for the final spot, which takes Jason McLeod out of the tournament. The 2013 bunting tournament will begin after all of the position players are in camp.

Carlos Villanueva sees the Cubs going to the next level according to a report from Comcast SportsNet. Villanueva was on the Brewers’ team that Dale Sveum took over at the end of the 2008 season and according to Villanueva, “every single person in that clubhouse wanted him back to manage the next year.”

According to a report from Carrie Muskat, give Dale Sveum an assist with Brent Lillibridge deciding to sign a minor league contract with the Cubs.

Scott Hairston joins the likes of Jason Marquis, Tyler Colvin, Milton Bradley and Andy Sonnanstine as players than have worn No. 21 since Sammy Sosa was traded to the Baltimore Orioles.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

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  • Tony_Hall

    Are teams and front offices judged by their failures or their successes?

    Depends on if you look at the glass as half-full or half-empty I guess.

    There is more failure in baseball than any other sport. Make outs in 60% of your AB’s and they send you to the All-Star Game.

    Try that in other sports…throw 60% incompletions in football, miss 60% of your shots in basketball, and you won’t be playing long.

    So are franchises and front offices judged by the talent that never makes it or the talent that does make it?

    Well once again, in baseball more players fail to make the majors then make it.

    Football, most draft picks make their team their rookie year.

    Basketball their draft picks make the team immediately.

    Baseball, well they select a lot more players every year and most fail to ever make the major league roster.

    So when a team wins the World Series, do they have failed draft picks? YES

    So when a team wins the World Series, do they have failed 1st rounders? YES

    So when a team wins the World Series, do they have successes from their system? YES

    So when a team wins the World Series, what success rate do those teams have on their draft picks? My guess would be well less than 5%, if not much lower.

    With so much failure on the best teams it would lead me to believe we should focus on the success stories. Teams are built with the guys that make the majors, not judged on who didn’t make it. It takes many failed players to get one player to the majors.

    There are 750 guys on major league rosters, yet over 1200 players get drafted every year. Plus many more sign as an undrafted player.

    Most teams have 6 levels plus Dominican teams totaling over 5000 players that are on a teams roster.

    Yet every year only 50 players play in the World Series.

    I would conclude that if you want to show failure of any front office, it should be easy to do. But I judge a team as successful, by making the playoffs consistently and ultimately winning a World Series.

    • alsbeefsand

      The issue mentioned yesterday was Theo 1st pick failures. You know, the first guy picked, still taken by Theo even though most every other analyst, evaluator/scout had brought up the warts and flaws, yet he still made those choices.
      Your comments about the number of talented players floating around in the minors who will never make a MLB roster has more to do with 1) MLB evaluators will never admit being wrong about a player they gave boatloads of money too upfront, and the system is clogged with many of these “misjudgements”, and 2) to cover their behinds, they flood the system hoping to strike lightning in a bottle so they can say things like “we saw it, nobody else did, that makes us great talent evaluators”, and 3) the game has become more global so the pool of talent, which includes grooming international kids, aka FARM, as in Cattle Call
      Ripsnort said it best yesterday when he blew up the Red Sox 06-11 1st picks of the draft by Theo
      And to add, and the Cubs roster is a good example, these experts rather roster a proven below-average experienced player every year versus putting some kids out there to see what they can do………..REASON
      They are afraid. Wouldn’t any astute baseball fan “pardon” the GM for trying a kid with upside versus plugging back in Mr. .223 lifetime hitter who in a good year may give you .240 or so?
      Wallow in mediocrity, and the Cubs are not the ones guilty of being afraid to display young players they drafted based on their judgements and beliefs……….Fear of failure I suppose

      • paulcatanese

        Like you’re post, great example of opposite opinions. Tony is correct and you are correct.

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

          Well said Paul.

      • Ray Ray

        Well said!

      • Tony_Hall

        Success of 1st round picks in baseball is no sure thing, especially as you get to the later part of the 1st round, like the Red Sox picked most years. As Cub fans, we know this all too well, that even picking in the beginning of the 1st round is no sure thing either.

        So I found someone who did the research on this subject. It is from another Cubs blog, and I don’t normally post links for other Cubs blogs on here, but it’s not like there are lots of people who have spent the huge amount of time to research this topic.

        http://viewfromthebleachers.com/blog/2012/08/23/success-rate-of-mlb-draft-picks-by-slot/

        In this article it breaks down the draft and shows the chance to find a successful player in the drafts 1st round.

        Pick 1-5 – 48%
        Pick 6-10 – 39%
        Pick 11-15 – 36%
        Pick 16-20 – 24%
        Pick 21-25 – 21%
        Pick 26-30 – 10%

        As you can see the success rate is drastically different based on what part of the draft’s 1st round you pick in.

        Also, it is just human nature to give a player you have picked, traded for, etc more chances than another player, but to say that MLB Evaluators “NEVER” admit to a failed player that they paid big money to is just completely wrong. Has a team stuck with someone far too long that ended up never making it, of course teams have. But if you invested millions in one player and near nothing in another, you are going to give your investment in the one every opportunity to succeed, whereas the one you have little invested, you will cut if you need a spot. Are their players who don’t get drafted near the top of the draft who make it to the majors…every year this happens.

        • Ray Ray

          Thanks for posting those stats.
          2009 Brett Jackson was the 31st pick. If he develops into a starting of one day that was a great pick.
          2008 Andrew Cashner was the 19th pick who was a very good pick and was turned into Anthony Rizzo.

        • DWalker

          wow, I knew there was a difference from early to late picks, but I had no idea it was that big of a gap even within the top 30 picks, let alone where that puts the sandwich picks and 2nd rounders. Really is not such thing as a sure thing, but I guess even half a chance is pushing it.

  • calicub

    Just saw that Dave sappelt posted a “sexist” twitt about women drivers a few weeks back… I suppose that explains canceling his account.

    Also BJAX’s new stance looks like the polar opposite of what it was just a few months ago and somewhat reminded me of Rizzos. Really shows what people have said about him and his work ethic

  • 07GreyDigger

    The Cubs did right by Tony Campana and did him a favor by DFAing him. He’s sure to catch on with another team and possibly a contender.

    For those of you upset about his release, just wait a year for Matt Szczur who is the same player who gets on base better.

    • paulcatanese

      Agree with the first paragraph,and am not upset about his DFA, he didn’t get the playing time. One cannot prove themselves with in and out of the lineup and then sit for half a season.
      If I were Campana, I would get a lighter,shorter bat and just swing away period, and forget about bunts, he has nothing to lose.
      But disagree on the speed of Matt Szczur, who may be a better baserunner as far as a lead, jump, etc.
      But he does not have the same speed as Campana.
      Again though as you say, he will hit better,then again, he hasn’t tried it out at the Major League level or even AAA, so jurie’s out of that one. I like him, an ex-football player converted to the right sport, thats in his favor.