Garza a Longshot for Opening Series, Castro’s Return Delayed and Other Cubs News Bits

The Cubs began the second week of their Cactus League schedule on Saturday with a 9-7 loss to the Giants, but before the game Dale Sveum provided updates on several of the players dealing with injuries.

Matt Garza threw from flat ground for the second time in three days on Saturday. Sveum said Garza felt fine afterwards but admitted that Garza being ready to pitch during the opening series in Pittsburgh is “probably a longshot.”

Starlin Castro was expected back in the lineup on Monday, but his return has been delayed. An MRI on Castro’s left hamstring revealed some inflammation. Sveum mentioned that Castro is not feeling any affects from the injury, and Castro took batting practice on Saturday. The Cubs are planning on holding him out of spring games for three-four more days (Tuesday or Wednesday) … but one report has Castro missing a week.

Ian Stewart

Dale Sveum discussed Ian Stewart’s status on Saturday … and it does not sound like Stewart will be back in the lineup for quite a while.

Stewart is not recovering from his strained quad as quickly as anticipated. Reports on Thursday indicated that Stewart would be swinging a bat within a week and could play in games within two weeks. Dale Sveum did not sound as positive and said Saturday that Stewart would not play in a game until mid-March, at the earliest, now.

The Cubs have a decision to make with Ian Stewart. Stewart signed a non-guaranteed $2 million contract in the off-season. The Cubs can cut ties with Stewart prior to Opening Day without being on the hook for the entire contract, the same as any arbitration eligible player.

The first deadline for Ian Stewart is March 16. If the Cubs cut him by March 16, they owe Stewart 1/6 of his contract or $333,000. If the Cubs decide they want to see him play before making a decision, they can cut him prior to Opening Day and it would cost them 1/4 of his contract, or $500,000.

Gordon Wittenmyer caught up with Stewart on Saturday, and he didn’t seem worried about the possibility of having to pull off a two-week rampage in order to make the roster. Stewart told Wittenmyer that he figured he would have to play a lot this spring anyway, and feels like he will have time to make the team.

Wittenmyer pointed out that Stewart “has a little compensating to do this spring to overcome the perception that he was too willing to spend the rest of the season at home once he got permission to leave the team to be with his pregnant wife following midseason wrist surgery.” Wittenmyer also reported not to “discount the potential incentive for sending a message to the rest of a mostly young team and expectations and accountability in their efforts to supposedly change the culture of the team.”

Cubs News Bits

Scott Baker threw live BP on Friday and reportedly everything went well. Baker is scheduled to throw one more live BP and if that session goes well the next step in his rehab process would be a simulated game. If Baker continues to progress, he could pitch in a Cactus League game in the near future.

Matt Garza with have another long-toss session on Monday. The Cubs think Matt Garza will need five Cactus League starts in order to be ready for the regular season.

Carlos Villanueva explained why he signed with the Cubs.

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  • Ripsnorter1

    Ian Stewart….

    Sveum is on his case, and perhaps those two don’t like each other. Certainly Stewart has reason to dislike Sveum. The boss calling you out before others is never a pleasant thing. I am sure Sveum is torched that he has a player that likes to dog it.

    But I doubt whether Stewart is worried in the least. Perhaps he’s the passive-aggressive type. If he gets cut, he makes one of twenty other ML teams just because there is a dearth of 3B talent these days. (Calling Stewart and his .199 BA a “talent” is something of a stretch I know, but the next Cub option is Valbeuna and Vitters, so you get my drift).

    • cubs1967

      careful Rip; lots of Stewart lovers on this site; they don’t understand how the stewart/valbuena combo makes Jed look like a fool. (jed being the gm of 2 teams; last place and 101 loss teams).

      player X: OPS of 2 yrs: .627 and .464. WAR of 0.0 a -0.8. Cost 2M. Do you keep him? NO!

      those are stewarts stats for last 2 yrs. the stewart who won’t play till mid-march. cut him by the 16th and save 1.67M

      as theo said in david haugh’s article last week; there were mistakes in 2011; meaning the marshall and colvin/lamaheiu trades not to mention losing flaherty.

      guess the minors were better than they thought.

      go cubs go……..we’re just chillin’ till 2016.

      • Brp921

        I’m glad you know what us “Stewart supporters” understand and what we don’t. One thing I understand is that Stewart is our only shot at having a decent hitting third baseman, unless Junior Lake magically blossoms into an every day MLB player in the next thirty days. So go ahead and DFA him and save the two million the Cubs aren’t going anywhere this year anyway and then complain some more about losing.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jason-Penrod/700030874 Jason Penrod

          Is it just me… Or don’t you think it’s a bad sign from the beginning when Stewart was one of the last to show up at camp and obviously came in unprepared. I think if I was on the bubble to make the team I would have been on the first plane to Arizona. And I would have showed up in great shape and ready to play. Instead he probably slacked off all winter, showed up out of shape, and he wonders why he got hurt. They should have cut him right when he showed up on the last possible day. He obviously isn’t mature enough to realize what he has going for himself. He had a starting 3B job all wrapped up, and we can all see how much he really cares. I say sit him on the bench even after he gets healthy, wait until every team locks up their 25 man roster, and then release him late enough to where he won’t be picked up by another team. Maybe it might knock some sense into him and get his career on track.

          • Brp921

            Sure I thought about the put of shape theory, though he did practice with Carew in the off season. Also he’s not the only guy to get hurt in spring training. Was Garza and Some of the other guys to get hurt not doing their off season workouts? I don’t know and that’s not my point. My point is simply…Who are you going to play there if not Stewart?

          • Ripsnorter1

            Your point is well taken. Stewart is not a good option, but he’s better than Valbuena and Vitters, or Lillebridge.

            When PECOTA judged the Cubs to be capable of 77 wins, they must have been drinking the Kool-Aid like any ordinary Cub fan. But it won’t happen with Valbuena at 3B, Garza missing starts along with Scott Baker, and Chris Volstad’s replacement: Scott Feldman.

            2013 could look amazingly a lot like 2012.

          • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

            If it makes you feel any better, no one thought Baker would be ready to go by Opening Day.

        • cubs1967

          “decent hitting”? define that?
          stewart’s best year with 25 dingers resulted in a .228 avg. you consider that decent?……
          supposedly ove the hill ARam hit .300 last year with 75 plus XBH and a .900 OPS.

          • Brp921

            25 home runs is decent. .228 avg would not be decent. 80 RBI’s would be decent. I think it is worth it at this point to see if Stewart can duplicate those numbers and improve on the avg this year if he’s healthy. We have enough invested in him with what we gave up in players. Whats another couple million to a big market team. Evenif he doesn’t improve his avg he’s better than the alternative. Do you want to watch Valbuena for 162 games at third base?

          • Tony_Hall

            ARAM wasn’t over the hill, he wasn’t worth signing for 4 years at the money it would take to sign him. He had a very good year last year in Milwaukee.

          • cubs1967

            um……..he signed for 3.

          • Tony_Hall

            That’s fine, but the Cubs would have had to sign him for 4 years to keep him from testing free agency, where his offers weren’t quite what he was expecting and he settled for 3 years.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Team Theo,…

    The geniuses that are Team Theo really messed up the 2012 and 2013 Cubs when they mishandled their young talent when they arrived in Wrigleyville.

    I am speaking of the Colvin, LeMahieu and Flaherty deals. Here are two 3B who are better than what they have in both Stewart and Valbuena. LeMahieu is better that Valbuena at utility INF as well. Flaherty could start for us–we are rebuilding, remember? Besides, he would out produce Stewart. LeMahieu could start ahead of Barney or Stewart.

    Because they mishandled their own talent, we are now searching for a 3B, with the likely prospect of Luis Valbeuna being our 3B–again–for 2013. Two years of this? It could only happen in Wrigleyville. NO GOOD.

    • Tom U

      Rip, a few things to add:

      An overlooked part of last season’s personnel gaffes is not protecting SS Marwin Gonzalez. Gonzalez is in line for the Astros’ starting SS position, battling the lead-footed Tyler Greene. He would have easily been on par with Luis Valbuena at a third of the cost.

      Don’t forget to add LHP Jeff Beliveau to the Ian Stewart debacle. The Cubs DFA’ed Beliveau in order to make room for Stewart. He was then claimed by the Rangers.

      While Theo Epstein has taken the hits for losing Colvin, LeMahieu, and Flaherty, there is strong suspicion that the fault may lay with Oneri Fleita and Dave Bialas. As the Vice President of Player Personnel and former Minor League Field Coordinator, Fleita and Bialas would have been responsible for briefing Epstein, Hoyer, and McLeod on what they had in the minors. We may never know what was said, but shortly afterwards, Jim Hendry favorites Jeff Baker and Blake DeWitt were re-signed and Colvin, LeMahieu, Flaherty, and Gonzalez were gone. Now, Fleita and Bialas are gone.

      • Ripsnorter1

        Thanks for the additional information.

        Team Theo is getting accolades for the Cubs’ minor league system. But his only real additions have been Solar and Almora. Concepcion looks like a bust, and Baez and Vogelbach are JHendry’s acquistions. Team Theo acquired Vizcaino is still hurt, though he had a big arm before the injury. But even in acquiring Vizcaino, he gave up a capable 4/5th starter in Maholm (he won 13 in 2012), who was very cheap (2 yrs/$10 million total), and that forced them to sign Jackson for $13 million per year. So in effect they gave up Maholm and $8 million for Vizcaino. That isn’t great roster management.

        • Tom U

          Hate to disagree with you Rip, but Soler and Almora are only the cosmetic features of the minor league system. In working on the previews, the pitching talent in the lower minors is impressive, while the position talent is at least encouraging. The front office has done a lot to close a gap left by the previous administration.

          • happylafferty

            It will be interesting to follow the development of 70+ arm, heavy fastball, downhill plane, easy fluid delivery, electric, minimal effort RHP the Theo reject…..determined and talented

          • Tom U

            Dan Berlind?

          • cubs1967

            in all fairness to JH; he wasn’t allowed to tank seasons to get high draft picks like theo and jed are; nor was JH allowed to overspend on the draft as he was given a budget; which included the draft and was told to make the team competitive as the cubs were for sale for 3 plus yrs.
            when ricketts took over and allowed JH to overpsend in the last year it was allowed; he drafted baez, vogelbach, maples, devoss, dunston jr to name a few,
            add in colvin-lemaheiu, gonzalez and flaherty and it appears the minors were better than thought. (those 4 are MLB players too).

          • Tony_Hall

            We know you loved JH and his style of going for it every year.

            Two questions to you.

            1) This has been asked many times this winter and you always ignore it…who would you have signed to be the 3B this winter?

            2) You spend so much time complaining, that when the Cubs do have the season in which they win the World Series are you going to complain all the way up to the last out or will you finally turn off the negativity and enjoy the games?

          • Ray Ray

            Need to correct you. This wasn’t a style, this is what ownership wanted. It was the same “style” Theo used in Boston with the Lackeys, Crawfords etc. Hendry wasn’t allowed to do a complete rebuild and lose 100 games.

          • Tony_Hall

            I am not sure I buy that is what ownership wanted all the years that JH was here.

            His last few years, especially his last year with TR as owner, was his chance to sell TR on his way. Obviously we know that TR was open to doing the rebuild and doing things the right way…maybe JH only talked about signing 30 something FA’s as the way to compete and that is why he is gone.

            The years he was given money to spend, he didn’t have to spend it all that year. He could have spent wiser and not always using future years money to pay for current years teams.

            He spent the last years with an obviously flawed team that needed to sell off the old short term assets and bring in younger long term assets, yet he brought in more older short term assets. Are you telling me that you think TR is against that philosophy and wouldn’t have let him do it that way?

          • Ray Ray

            I think it is the same situation in Boston. Do you think Theo would have cleaned house by trading Crawford, AGon, Beckett? It would have not been possible without a change in GM’s. Same thing with Hendry. A change needed to happen for this to be done.

          • Tony_Hall

            The Cubs were needing a rebuild, while the Red Sox were still being competitive for the playoffs. But I honestly I have never followed the other Red Sox well enough to know if they should have pulled the plug and sold off. The Cubs was obviously a time to do that, instead we traded prospects for Garza and signed guys like Pena.

          • Shawon O’Meter

            For everyone who keeps talking up the 26 year old Flaherty did any of you watch any Os games, talk to any Os fans or look at his stats. Are you just complaining hoping no one noticed he was really poor last year?

        • Tony_Hall

          Yes they have done so much damage that ESPN just ranked them 6th in their Future Power Rankings – a detailed breakdown of the future of every major league franchise.

          http://insider.espn.go.com/mlb/story/_/id/8967507/mlb-future-power-rankings-2013-nos-15-1

          1 Cardinals
          2 Rangers
          3 Rays
          4 Nationals
          5 Yankees
          6 Cubs

          This is based on the major league team (25th) Minors (5th) Finance (7th) Management (6th) Mobilitiy (7th)

          But go ahead and worry about players who are nothing more than replacement or below level…that is what makes or breaks a team.

          • cubs1967

            when’s the last time ESPN rankings won a world series?
            and why is finance 7th? cubs have no money according to ricketts; he already said the 145M payroll by zell and tribune was not sustainable. (forgetting the 25M next year from tv deal or that losing almost 400K fans becuz they are losing on purpose makes a big deal). so they can’t be 7th for finance.
            and mgmt????….theo’s w-l record in charge is 101 losses. you must of slipped the ESPN writer some of that cubby blue kool aid you chug.
            it’s ST and already 2 cubs are on the DL for the season in garza and baker; stewart prob should be as i know jed won’t release him.
            90 plus losses here we come.
            go cubs go……….we’re just chillin’ till 2016.

          • Tony_Hall

            Read the article and you can answer all of these questions…

            Please go chill until 2016…

          • triple

            WHERE DO YOU GET OFF CALLING PEOPLE HERE NAMES?1?!?!?! Try being respectful and answering peoples questions thoughtfully and maybe people may respect you opinions more. And no I’m not angry and it hasnt’ been a bad day.

            And as Tony asked you earlier, and last week, who would you have brought in to play 3rd base? At least Rayray stepped up to the plate and gave an answer while you hid behind the internet curtain!

            Also, all of a sudden you’re sticking up for Jim Hendry who outbid himself for Soriano, and threw a bunch of money away on Zambrano and Ramirez, and caused all this mess?

            Oh yeah, and that was great of JH to also trade away some prospects for Garza, and now all we got is a guy who can’t be traded because he can’t stay healthy and will never bring back a return even close to what we gave away for him… I guess that’s Theo’s fault too

            So tough guy, who do you sign for 3rd base and how much money over how many years?

      • SuzyS

        Excellent post, Tom….There were a few head scratchers to start out with…Fleita/Bialas Theory makes sense.

  • Ripsnorter1

    Good news! Mike Trout renewed at $510k per year.

    Luis Valbeuna receives big raise from Cubs. He now “earns” $980k per year!

    Come on, Maude. Let’s bat him cleanup!

    • Tony_Hall

      I know you are joking, but c’mon man, you have to understand the difference between an auto renewal player and arbitration year players.

      Do you really think Trout isn’t about to break the bank? If they offered him a $100M contract he wouldn’t even say yes.

      There is talk about him and being, not just a $200M, but $300M contract.

      http://sports.yahoo.com/news/can-angels–mike-trout-be-a–300m-man—173054011.html

      • cubs1967

        cubs are gonna pay stewart 2M; 4 times as much and he hasn’t even batted yet.
        attention attention, attention, fans please grab your scorecards and pencils, for today’s starting line-up.
        batting 4th, your cleanup hitter, making 4 times as much as mike trout and batting 1/4 less than mike trout, your 3rd baseman, he’s not even steve ontiveros, Ian Stewarrrrrrrrrt, Stewart at 3rd.
        makes jed get all warmy and fuzzy all over hearing that.
        geez………

        • http://chicagocubsonline.com/ Neil

          I’m sure your keyboard stuck as you were typing, because you know my stance about nicknames. You can make your point without the nicknames, please try it.

          On Trout’s salary, Trout and his agent are not happy. He is an automatic renewal and the team took advantage of it. If you are going to bring that up, make sure to point that out. While I do not agree with Stewart’s contract, you are comparing apples to oranges here. The Angels are going to end up paying for this decision down the road, one way or another.

          • Tony_Hall

            Well said!

          • cubs1967

            except i did not call him a nickname; now did I? i compared him to steve ontiveros.

            and let’s be adults about nicknames when you are calling me names like clueless, etc.
            my post was tongue in cheek; mimicking pat piper.
            grow up!

          • Tony_Hall

            As always you miss the points. I was saying well said about his analysis on Mike Trout. Also I didn’t call you a nickname, I said you are clueless.

          • cubs1967

            I don’t see a nickname? i compared him to steve ontiveros.
            and last time i checked i’,m an adult; not a child. funny how tony can call me names and that’s OK. and your smart comment about keyboard getting stuck. really? freedom of speech-rigth?

            my post was tongue in cheek. the angels took advantage; not a good way to get a long term deal done like the rays did with longoria.

          • triple

            You used a nice nickname when you called Tony a chud…. that just isn’t very cool… keep it together man. You say you’re an adult, but you result to name calling? If you feel so much anger about proving your points, maybe you need to have an actual conversation with someone not on the internet?

        • Shawon O’Meter

          Every GM in the country is a moron based on your logic 67 because literally no player is giving as much production for the money as Mike Trout. I don’t like Stewart either but that point can be made without a comparison as pointless as this. Are all contracts in baseball terrible because Muke Trout makes very little money and has phenomenal production?

          • 07GreyDigger

            Why is everyone calling our new FO a failure after one year? Are you kidding?

          • Shawon O’Meter

            Grey I’m in agreement with you. My post was in disagreement with 1967. I’m thrilled with the regime. Have there been mistakes? Sure. But for the first time in decades we have a solid plan and are actually executing it quite well.

          • 07GreyDigger

            I think I meant to reply to 1967. Tired of people hating for no reason.

  • Meoli

    New of Matt Garza missing the first month of the season reminds me of the name of a Raymond Chandler novel …The Long Goodbye

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