Cubs Release Spring Training Broadcast Schedule and Other News and Rumors

While the focus Monday was on prospects and the battle with the rooftops, the Cubs released their Spring Training broadcast schedule. Pitchers and catchers report to Mesa on Feb. 13, position players on Feb. 18 and the first full squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 19. And a little more than a week later, Rick Renteria’s team will take on the Diamondbacks at the first game at Cubs Park on Feb. 27.

WGN TV will carry the first game of the Cubs’ 2014 Cactus League schedule on Feb. 27 with Smokies’ play-by-play man Mick Gillispie calling the game on Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer call their first game from Tempe on Feb. 28.

33 of the Cubs’ 36 Spring Training games will be available either on WGN Radio, WGN TV, Comcast SportsNet, or WGN TV is scheduled to broadcast four games and Comcast SportsNet will televise six more spring games. Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer call the play-by-play on eight games this spring while the audio for 23 games will be available on with Len Kasper and Mick Gillispie calling the action.

Cubs Park had its Grand Opening over the weekend and more than 30,000 people showed up to ‘Double Play at the Park.’ The City of Mesa and the Cubs have received rave reviews for the new facility from the fans and the players.

Pitching, Pitching and More Pitching

The Cubs are expected to sign at least one starting pitcher before Spring Training begins. According to Patrick Mooney, the Cubs “have essentially checked in with every free agent pitcher this winter.” The Cubs are reportedly interested in Paul Maholm and Jason Hammel and are still believed to be interested in a reunion with Scott Baker despite a report last week. The Angels are also interested in Jason Hammel according to Mike DiGiovanna and “seem to be leaning toward Hammel or Chris Capuano more than Bronson Arroyo or Paul Maholm.”

Jed Hoyer said the Cubs are looking for “innings” and an option for the fifth spot in an Opening Day rotation that is likely to include Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson and Jake Arrieta.

Darwin Barney and Bill Mueller

Darwin Barney mentioned during the convention he had already spent time in Mesa this winter working with Bill Mueller and Mike Brumley. According to a report from Mark Gonzales, Barney “believes he might have found the remedy to cure his hitting struggles.”

Barney worked with Mueller and Brumley and said their “ideas are simple.” The Cubs’ new hitting coaches want Barney to be “the same every at bat.”

Odrisamer Despaigne

The Cubs could be one of the teams interested in Cuban RHP Odrisamer Despaigne.

Jesse Sanchez was told that several of the teams that were interested in signing Masahiro Tanaka have also expressed interest in RHP Odrisamer Despaigne. Sanchez questioned if teams are viewing him as Plan B.

The OFAC cleared Despaigne and he is free to sign with a Major League team. Despaigne held two showcases in Mexico this month and might have another one before he signs according to Sanchez.

Despaigne is 26 years old and throws a fastball in the low 90s that maxes out at 94 mph. Despaigne also features a curveball, a 12-6 curveball, slider and change-up. Despaigne reportedly grew up idolizing Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez.

The Cubs have not been connected to Odrisamer Despaigne yet.

Yenier Bello

The Cubs could be interested in signing Cuban catcher Yenier Bello. Jesse Sanchez reported last week the Cubs are one of three teams (Dodgers and Blue Jays) that have shown interest in Bello and Nick Cafardo linked the Cubs to Bello in his Sunday column along with the Dodgers and A’s.

Bello has been cleared by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and can agree to terms on a contract with a Major League team. Bello defected from Cuba in early 2013 and established residency in Mexico. MLB has declared Bello a free agent.

News, Notes and Rumors

According to another report from Korea, Chang-Yong Lim will be added to the Cubs’ non-roster invitee list to big league camp and report to Spring Training soon.

The Cubs were one of the teams interested in signing RHP Suk-Min Yoon earlier in the winter but have not been connected to the free agent of late. Yoon is looking to sign with a big league team before Spring Training begins and is back in the states. According to a report from Korea, Yoon has at least one offer from an unidentified Major League team on the table. The Twins and Mariners are believed to be two of the teams interested in signing Yoon.

Chris Cotillo reported Sunday night the Cubs have inquired on Ervin Santana. Santana is tied to draft pick compensation after rejecting the Royals’ qualifying offer. If the Cubs were to sign Santana it would cost them their second round draft pick and the draft pool money attached to the pick. Santana does not fit the Cubs’ plan and is likely not an option.

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Diamondbacks “are more inclined to revisit a trade” for Jeff Samardzija than sign either Ervin Santana or Ubaldo Jimenez.

Stadium Journey ranked Wrigley Field as the 30th best experience they had during 2013.

720 WGN came in third among Chicago radio stations in total revenue in 2013.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

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  • Roe Skidmore

    Don’t sign an FA that requires draft compensation. Baker & Hammel are worth a look. I prefer Rusin(young Jamie Moyer?) over Maholm at this point. Cabrera is out of options, let him pitch in rotation. Our bullpen is much stronger, especially if Viscaino returns healthy. We can afford some short outings from a couple starters, but Rusin and Cabrera may be ready to be more.

    • Tony_Hall

      I tend to agree with you on this, filling the 5th spot with Cabrera to start the year since he is out of options makes sense, versus the options available out there.

    • 07GreyDigger

      A FA pitcher makes them more competitive and I do think they’ll be better this year, but I agree, how much better is the key.

      • cubtex

        lol. more competitive. so they might lose 92 games instead of 95?

        • 07GreyDigger

          My prediction is 73-89. That’s not losing 90 games, but they should be better considering they won’t be using as much DFA roster filler after the deadline.

    • cubtex

      Yep. Been saying the same thing. Cabrera was 2nd in AA in K’s for a starter if I recall(only behind Tajuan Walker) Give him a shot…If he fails…Grimm….if he fails…Rusin and so on and so on. They have plenty of options instead of signing a Hammel or Maholm who (odds are) will not bring back much at the deadline.

  • Swish23

    Rosenthal’s column today states Cubs did not offer opt out clause for Tanaka on top of 6/120m offer.(25m from tv contracts makes it 95m really). Seen this before; Cubs ” try”, but not really playing with big boys. Money problems are real; at least big boy real; not so much if Kansas City is the goal.

    • cubtex

      Hunting for a prized Grizzly Bear with a BB Gun. No team wants to give an ace pitcher like Kershaw, CC, Greinke etc an opt out clause…but if you want the player….it is something that has to be done.

      • Tony_Hall

        LOL or offer a $154M. It is not like the opt out was the reason for saying yes to $154M. Just like the number of 1st class plane tickets or luxury suites in his contract really was the deciding factor. But while you have the Yankees backed up to the wall you take all that you can from them.

        • cubtex

          no it was the 6 year at 120 mil. Opt out never came into play because they had no chance with that offer. They needed to pull a Cano type offer. No way Tanaka would go to Cubs unless the money way over any other offer.

          • Tony_Hall

            So you are saying this is another case where a free agent went to the highest offer. Hard to believe.

          • cubtex

            no not at all. not even close re-read it.

          • Tony_Hall

            I know what you are saying, but once again he just went to the highest offer, then extracted all the extras they could get, including a get of Dodge option in 4 years, if he can get more money at the time.

            This new system, did the exact opposite of it’s intended purpose.
            Shocking I know.

    • BigJonLilJon

      Typical Cubs….. watch the left hand so you cant see what the right hand is doing

  • cubtex

    28 degrees…ice on roads. Schools closed. I thought I wasn’t in Chicago anymore. Anyway… I listened to a great interview with Bob Melvin the manager of the A’s. He was talking about evaluating and promoting young players or prospects. He said how difficult it is to evaluate a player in spring training. Not a good judge in how they will perform in big leagues. “Heck, I even hit .320 in spring training.” He prefers to start prospects in AAA and bring them up mid season. As I have been saying….that is the right approach for Olt,Baez,Bryant and all the prospects.

    • SuzyS

      You’re not in Chicago anymore…it was 13 below zero when I got up.

      • cubtex

        lol. Redneck Ice Scraper= Spatula. That is what I used this morning to get ice off my car :)

        • CubbyDenCritic

          A True Redneck would have a Ford pick up, with duc tape somewhere holding a part of the truck together.

        • paulcatanese

          I know the feeling, we had some snow about a month ago, 1/2 inch or so:)

    • Tony_Hall

      Try -11 and -27 wind chill.

      It isn’t the only way that can work.

  • SuzyS

    I actually think we’re going to be ok with #3/4/5 rotation pitchers going forward…Cubs braintrust obviously wanted to focus on offense first in the minors.
    TOR pitchers are a problem…and next season it will be time to acquire one by any means possible, (sans giving up the whole farm). I expect us to make a splash next year to improve…and possibly a trade(for improvement) in July.

    • daverj

      I would think Homer Bailey is the new top Cubs target (for next off season). Off course, if he is extended or traded (and extended), that new plan would go out the window.

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Suzy, before we get top of the line pitchers to play for the Cubs, the Cubs need to show free agents we are Playoff ready……this team is far from being Playoff ready……….besides, our F.O has restrictions on contracts.

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