Day Three of Cubs Camp: PFPs, Jeff Samardzija and Long Term Contracts

Pitchers and catchers officially took the field for the first time on Tuesday at Fitch Park. The pitchers began their PFP (pitchers fielding practice) drills and reportedly, Matt Garza’s first toss to first base of the season was a successful one.

Jeff Samardzija discussed his reasons for not signing a long term extension with the media and Edwin Jackson talked about where he was during the Cubs-Nationals brawl last September.

Reportedly it was a rather cool first day of practice but the forecast has warmer days ahead for the Cubs as they prepare for the Cactus League opener against the Angels in Tempe … which is just 10 days away.

Jeff Samardzija

Jeff Samardzija is a good example of how quickly things can change in professional sports. Samardzija was hanging on to his baseball career by a thread a year ago and now he is in line to take the ball on Opening Day in Pittsburgh. Samardzija is coming off a solid first year as a big league starter … and an even better second half.

Samardzija posted a 6-8 record in his first 17 starts with a 4.71 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP (100 strikeouts, 37 walks and 101 hits allowed in 101 1/3 innings). Samardzija was inconsistent at best but seemed to learn how to pitch as the year wore on. Samardzija has credited the coaching staff with teaching him certain aspects of pitching. Before being shutdown, Samardzija was 3-5 over his last 11 starts with a 2.58 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP (80 strikeouts, 19 walks and 56 hits allowed in 73 1/3 innings). Teams hit just .210 against him compared to .260 in his first 17 outings … and anyone that watched him pitch could see a difference.

Rumors surfaced in early December that the Cubs were working on a long term extension with Samardzija and were very close to extending his contract. The talks cooled and Samardzija decided to take just the one year contract (his first year of arbitration eligibility) for the same amount he made last year ($2.64 million) but with a $125,000 incentives package based on innings pitched.

Samardzija said during the convention that the two sides discussed a long term deal but he decided to wait and pointed out that he and the Cubs’ front office have three years to work something out.

According to multiple reports on Tuesday, the Cubs and Samardzija discussed parameters of a five-year contract extension but Samardzija did not feel like it made much sense to sign an extension without even pitching a full year as a starter. Samardzija acknowledged that he wants to remain a Cub and knows that he and the team are on the same page.

Samardzija did not rule out discussing an extension during the season. He does not feel the negotiations would be a distraction because he can “multi-task” but admitted that those discussions are so far on the backburner that it’s not even an issue.

Samardzija from the Tribune:

“We were talking, and we both have the same interest in mind. We both want me to be here and both want me to be part of this team for a long time. When we feel like we’re on the same page with that, we’ll get it done. That was offseason talk. That’s what happened at the end of the year. It’s early right now. I still haven’t proven myself to where I want to be as a player. I was happy last year but I don’t want to stay there. I want to improve and get better. The more I show them that, the more comfortable they’ll be with getting a deal done. It’s not even close to the front burner now. It’s so far on the back (burner) it’s not even an issue. The fact we have a common ground … it makes you feel good. Now it’s just a little bantering back and forth.”

Jeff Samardzija is under team control through the 2015 season and likes what he has seen from the team this winter.

“They very easily could’ve gone in a different direction. They could’ve not spent any money and put us in the same spot. Obviously we’re excited to see what they’re doing and we’re excited to get this thing going and see how all these pieces are going to fit together.”

Kerry Wood

Kerry Wood reported to Spring Training on Tuesday but not as a pitcher but as an instructor. Less than a year after retiring from baseball, Wood was back in Mesa on Tuesday helping with pitchers fielding practice … Wood caught balls at first base.

According to a report from the Tribune, Dale Sveum is glad that Wood is in camp and said he will bring his “knowledge and experience for the young players to watch.” Wood is expected to be in and out of camp this spring. Wood talked to the players the Cubs brought in for the Rookie Development program last month.

Kerry Wood will likely be “around” the entire season according to the Tribune … and told ESPN Chicago he has no plans at making a comeback.

Spring Training News Bites

The Cubs organizational meetings kicked off on Tuesday in the Phoenix area. The Cubs’ brass is meeting with all of their minor league personnel and scouts to go over ‘The Cubs Way’ to make sure everyone is on the same page with the Cubs’ new manual on how the game will be taught throughout the organization.

According to a report from ESPN Chicago, Dale Sveum said Tuesday that the ball was coming out of Travis Wood’s hand much better than it did last spring. Travis Wood knows he is fighting for a spot in the rotation … and is the only southpaw competing for a spot in the rotation according to the Tribune.

Dale Sveum said that Scott Baker will be “babied” as he recovers from Tommy John surgery last April. Sveum would not put a timetable on when Baker will be ready. Scott Baker was one of the pitchers that threw a bullpen session on Tuesday.

According to ESPN Chicago, Scott Feldman “likely has an inside track for a spot” in the Cubs rotation.

Carlos Villanueva sees himself as a starter but admitted he is a team guy and is willing to do whatever the Cubs need him to do. Villanueva decided to sign with the Cubs because of his relationship with Dale Sveum from their days together in Milwaukee … and said at the end choosing to sign with the Cubs was an easy decision.

Matt Garza, Edwin Jackson, Jeff Samardzija and Carlos Marmol are among the pitchers scheduled to throw on Wednesday.

According to a report from Comcast SportsNet, Edwin Jackson will be in the middle of it all for the Cubs.

Kyuji Fujikawa would like his first name pronounced “Q-Jay” instead of “Q-Gee.”

News and Notes

According to a report from Jonah Keri, the Cubs have two of the worst contracts in baseball on their books … Carlos Marmol and Alfonso Soriano. The Cubs owe Marmol $9.8 million in the third and final year of his contract and Soriano will be paid $18 million per season over the remaining two years of his eight-year contract. It is pretty easy to guess which contract tops Grantland’s list of the worst contract in baseball.

According to Paul Sullivan, Carlos Zambrano may play in Japan or Taiwan if he cannot get a Major League deal.

One more note on the large contract that was handed out to Michael Bournaccording to Jon Heyman, Bourn’s four-year, $48 million deal is the largest guaranteed contract ever handed out to a player that has never hit 10 home runs in a single year or slugged .400 in a single year, and the vesting option is very attainable that would run the deal up to five years and $60 million.

BuntTourney2013And last, but not least … the field is marked and ready for the 2013 Cubs Bunting Tournament


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Quote of the Day

"Never let the fear of striking out get in your way of playing the game." – Babe Ruth

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  • paulcatanese

    Good article Neil.
    IMO, Shark has made a excellent push towards opening day starter.
    Congratulations to Garza learning that first base is to his left and about 60 feet away:)

  • GaryLeeT

    Kyuji Fujikawa would like his first name pronounced “Q-Jay” instead of “Q-Gee.”
    OK Cuegee, whatever you say.

    • bluekoolaidaholic

      I thought it was K-eye-you-gee but you know he will be Foodgie

      • Theboardrider

        If the guy prefers that his name be pronounced correctly I don’t think that is too much to ask.

        • paulcatanese

          Thats okay, and mine is pronounced
          Cat-a-knees, if he can pronounce mine,I will do the same for him:)
          Actually Japanese names are fairly easy to pronounce in comparison to names from the other parts of the world, and there should not be a problem.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Zambrano is done as a ML pitcher, imo.

    • Ray Ray

      Z would fit right in this year. Scott Feldman career whip 1.417 along with the aforementioned Ejax with his 1.438 career whip

      • Ripsnorter1

        I wonder if that Jackson signing won’t appear on the list of most bloated contracts next year.

        • DWalker

          Next year his will likely appear on the list of best bargain contracts at the rate contracts are balloning.

          • Ripsnorter1

            Yes, they are ballooning. IN-credibly.

    • calicub

      He could sport a name change too!

      From Big Z to Big ‘Zilla

      • paulcatanese

        He will cause a shortage of Kobe beef as well.

    • daverj

      Where are the posts saying how the Cubs got screwed on the Z trade and should have kept him until his value was higher???

  • Ripsnorter1

    It was good to see Theo had not, 1, not 2, but 3–THREE!!– of the worst 15 contracts in all of MLB on his ledger. Coming in at #14–even ahead of Albert Pujols, Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Marmol–was Mr. Adrian Gonzalez. The new GM of Boston really robbed LA in dumping this player and his unwieldly contract.

    #7 belongs to Theo’s signing of John Lackey.

    But the #2 worst contract of all belongs to Theo’s signing of Mr. Carl Crawford, esquire. Only the Alex Rodriguez deal is worse.

    These facts would seem to point to Mr. Theo Epstein as have an even worse track record than Mr. Jim Hendry, former Cubs GM.

    • Theboardrider

      Rip I think it’s been established that Crawford and Gonzo were both decisions mandated by ownership. At least that’s what I heard. I’m sure that Epstein didn’t fight real hard against but who knows what would have happened if he was given free reign to do as he pleased. That was definitely not the case in his final years in Boston, a point which led to the severing of that relationship.

    • Ray Ray

      Shhhhhhhhh! Lets keep that a secret. Theo has done and will do no wrong! I knew it would be minutes before people blamed ownership but Hendry came out recently and said it was ownership responsible for the Soriano contract but of course not a peep of that. Theo is the best!!!!

      • daverj

        It’s been well known since the Soriano signing that the direction for the signing came from ownership (who were trying to boost the value of the team prior to a sale) and not Hendry. What did he say recently?

    • beefromals

      Theo is overrated, Henry wanted Billy all along, and Theo is also on the verge of having his 2nd 1st round pick since 2006(thru 2011) BUST while with Boston

      • calicub

        Yeah a guy who won 2 world series, made it to the playoffs 6/10 years during his tenure and developed several solid, high-caliber mlb players is certainly a bust.

        During that time the only other team to EQUAL those feats was the Cards who also made 6 appearances in the post season from 2002 – 2011.

        Nay say all you want but atleast look at the whole picture

        • 07GreyDigger

          Here here. I don’t know why everyone’s dumping on Theo in YEAR ONE of his tenure. Sure, some things didn’t work out in Boston, but is it possible he learned a few things during his time there?

          Sure, everything he does will not be perfect, but at least they have a clear plan of how they want to accomplish things and how they want to develop young guys. The last administration barely played any rookies and when they did they never gave them a fair shake.

          Yes, they lost 100 games last year, but at least they have more minor league depth than they did before and don’t have to constantly throw money around and see what sticks.

  • Theboardrider

    I really think we dodged a bullet by avoiding Bourn…

    • Ray Ray

      Dodged a bullet? I will make sure to point out his stats over the next several years. He is a bargain at 4 and 48. You are a saber metrics guy as you said. Look at his WAR the last 4 years. We got DEJesus!!!!!

      • calicub

        Round 2? Seriously?

        • Ray Ray

          Lol. No way! I just had to address that “dodged a bullet” comment.

          • Theboardrider

            I would expect nothing less Ray. I don’t know whether to say I hope you are right or not. It won’t have any impact on the Cubs either way. I’ve always heard that Bourn is a good guy though so I guess for that reason I will go ahead and say I hope you are…:)

      • SuzyS

        RayRay, Bourn is just NOT a good gamble….His game is ALL in his legs and he’s on the wrong side of 30. He’s not a power threat…that’s why he only signed for 12 mil per instead of 20 mil per year.
        No matter what, you just can’t ignore that.

        • Ray Ray

          Suzy, I don’t want to get into this all again but you are helping my cause. He only signed for 12 mil for 4 years. He just turned 30, 2 months ago. For that length of time and money it is a no brainer. If he was at 5 years plus at 75 mil plus then your point is valid.But my point is that the Cubs are lacking a leadoff hitter and CF. Will BJAX ever develop into an everyday CF? I am not so sure. Even if he does they still need corner outfield help and he can be moved there until Almora is ready to replace Bourn in 3 to 4 years.

  • calicub

    So is the entire front office competing for the last two spots in the bunt tourney or is it just theo and Jed?

    • Cubs4ever

      Someone might have to show Theo and Jed how to grip a bat.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Theo’s Drafts 2006-2011….

    2006 BoSox #1 pick Jason Place

    2006 Compensation Pick Daniel Bard

    2007 No #1 Pick….supplemental Picks…Ryan Dent (no ML player as of yet) and Nick Hagadone (1.618 WHIP for Cleveland)

    2008 #1 Casey Kelly….2-3…6.21 ERA for Jed Hoyer’s San Diego Padres in 2012.

    2009…Reymond Fuentes…SS….AA=.218 BA for 2012….302 slug

    2010….Kolbrin Vitek….3B in AA in 2012….1 HR…13 RBI…..244 hitter in 205 AB

    2011….Blake Swihart C….A Greenville, SC….7 HR…53 RBI….262….slug.395

    That is the top picks of Mr. Theo Epstein for 2006-2011.

    • Vivid_Reality

      Its not all about the first round, lots of top picks flame out. He drafted some pretty good players during his tenure in Boston. The big three are Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Jonathan Papelbon. Lets see, that’s a better second baseman, centerfielder, and closer than we currently have on our roster. Matter of fact, those three are better than any drafted player we currently have. Anyone can cherry pick.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Cherry pick? Not me. That was his #1 draft from 2006-2011, or 6 years in a row. I didn’t leave anyone out.

    • SuzyS

      Rip, respectfully…you’re still ignoring the ownership Theo had to work with along with low draft positioning.
      I really don’t understand the Theo hatred. I’m not in love with Theo…but I do believe in giving the guy a fair shake.
      Crawford and Agon would have been signed by anyone…and I think they both will rebound this year.
      Lackey is problematic…but again…where does John Henry figure into all this with a young Theo?
      Either way, Theo seems to be a lot sharper than JH.
      At least he did not have dinner with Milton Bradley.

  • Neil

    Just a reminder that I receive notifications with the emails for everyone that leaves a comment on the site. I leave the site open for everyone to comment due to my stance on freedom of speech, despite what I have been told directly.

    With that said, there are a few individuals that are logging on under different screen names and if it does not stop I will be forced to make it where only registered Disqus users can comment on the site.

    I appreciate and I am grateful for all of the comments
    that are made on the site. But there are a
    couple of individuals that have apparently made it their mission to be as negative as possible on this site and using multiple screen names will no longer be permitted.