Communication is Key for Rick Renteria and Other Cubs News and Notes

The Cubs are set to cut the ribbon on the new facility in Mesa in one week. Cubs’ pitchers and catchers officially report the next day (Feb. 13) and Rick Renteria will conduct his first on-field workout with the pitchers and catchers, plus any other position players already in Mesa, on Friday, Feb. 14.

Rick Renteria is nine days away from the start of his first Spring Training as the Cubs’ manager. And for Renteria and his staff, the key will be how they communicate and relate to their players.

Rick Renteria is an extremely positive person and thinks of his players as his kids. Renteria has “a reputation for having a personality that pushes players” according to a report from Buster Olney. The front office brought in Renteria to keep a consistent, positive message in the clubhouse.

Buster Olney spoke with Renteria’s former boss, Padres’ GM Josh Byrnes, about the Cubs’ new skipper. Byrnes told Olney that Renteria has “an infectious personality” and his ability to speak two languages fluently helps Renteria to “connect to all players.”

Renteria was raised in a household that spoke both Spanish and English after his family moved from Mexico to California. Olney explained that Renteria “began to understand the differences in how the languages are used” once he began playing baseball. Renteria also learned the many dialects so he could understand “how different phrases are rooted in different cultures.” Renteria is still trying to grasp the “idioms that tend to be tied to various countries, so that he can have the best possible chance to convey a thought to a player from Cuba, from Venezuela or any other country.”

MLB and MLBPA Joint Drug Agreement

According to a report from Jon Paul Morosi, Major League Baseball and the MLBPA are reviewing the Joint Dug Agreement at the annual meeting and are discussing possible changes.

Players have come out in support of stiffer penalties for those that test positive for PEDs. According to Morosi’s report, MLB and the MLBPA “are engaged in talks about the possibility of increasing penalties beyond the current scale of 50 games, 100 games and lifetime bans for positive tests.”

Morosi’s sources indicated the two sides “aren’t necessarily reopening the Joint Drug Agreement for large-scale changes but rather discussing a number of issues as part of an annual review process.”

The current JDA went into effect following the 2011 season and expires along with the current CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) on Dec. 1, 2016.

News, Notes and Rumors

The Cubs may or may not be interested in Bronson Arroyo but according to Jon Paul Morosi, the Dodgers “remain in active talks” with Arroyo. The Diamondbacks are also interested in Arroyo and as of Tuesday the Padres were not interested in Arroyo.  With Corey Luebke out for the season due to his second Tommy John surgery, San Diego’s stance on Arroyo might have changed.

Buster Olney reported Ervin Santana’s asking price has “dropped significantly” from the $100-plus million contract he was seeking early in the off-season. Santana might be looking for a three-year contract at this point.

The Cubs bullpen is not a joke according to RotoGraphs. The Cubs have options behind closer Jose Veras if he struggles or once he is traded in July. Pedro Strop, Blake Parker, Hector Rondon, Arodys Vizcaino, James Russell and Kyuji Fujikawa are the options RotoGraphs mentions. The report does not include Wesley Wright and points to Fujikawa returning from Tommy John surgery around the time Veras should be dealt.

Randy Wells might be attempting a comeback on the mound, but for now he will be a volunteer assistant coach for the Lindenwood University-Belleville baseball program.

Former Cubs’ utility man Jeff Baker signed a two-year contract with the Marlins for $3.7 million that can pay him an additional $500,000 a year if he reaches all of his incentives.

And in more former Cubs news, Sam Fuld signed a minor league contract with Oakland that includes a non-roster invite to camp. Fuld’s deal is worth $800,000 if he makes the roster and the contract includes a $100,000 incentives package based on games played. Fuld has two opt outs in his deal, one in late March and one on June 1 according to Ken Rosenthal.

According to Bill Shaikin, SportsNet Los Angeles will feature every Dodgers Spring Training game and an hour long studio show every night.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

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  • Tony_Hall

    I can’t wait for the Cubs to get their TV situation done, so we can see all of the spring training games and have more Cubs specific programming.

  • Tony_Hall

    I agree with Rotographs on the bullpen. I believe this bullpen should be an improvement over last year and that this alone could increase the win total to the point of crossing the 70 mark.

    • TheWrongGuy

      Yes I have posted about this before the much improved CUBS bullpen alone will win many more games for the CUBS.
      The offense is another story. But I don’t see Rizzo and/or Castro having bad years again in 2014.
      Those 2 factors alone “should” add more CUBS wins than in 2013.
      The starting rotation on the other hand. It seems the CUBS FO are rolling the dice yet again. The rotation could be the make or break it for the CUBS to improve in the wins this season.

      • Tony_Hall

        I agree with you but not sure they are rolling the dice on the starting staff as much as you think.

        Samardzija/Wood/EJackson had 96 starts last year and I would expect them to have around 96 again this year. As a group, I expect a little better production, as I expect better years from Samardzija and EJAX with a slight regression from Wood.

        66 starts to go

        4th spot
        Hammel 15 starts expected

        Hammel is this years Feldman. Expect about 15 starts. Not sure that the thoughts of Hammel are any different then Feldman were last year at this time. I don’t expect Hammel to be as good as Feldman was, but he will only be around half a season, either because he was traded or ineffective.

        That leaves 51 starts that last year were divided up between these guys.

        Villanueva 15
        Rusin 13
        Garza 11
        Arrieta 9
        Baker 3

        Now we can’t expect the production from Arrieta, Hendrick, Grimm and Cabrera (likely guys to get the rest of the 51 starts) as we did from Garza. But to think they can be as productive as Villanueva, Rusin, Arrieta, and Baker is pretty realistic.

        Now of course injuries can effect things, but really only Samardzija would hurt the production of the rotation that much.

        • CubbyDenCritic

          I said yesterday that either Hammel or Arietta can match Garza / Feldman total combine production from 2013.

        • TheWrongGuy

          I agree and sorry for the late and long reply Tony.

          If the start of this season goes south as many predict. I expect more than the “Shark” to be traded to include almost if not all the starting rotation.
          1) Shark – It is just a matter of waiting on the right package of prospects and the trade will happen.
          2) EJax – his 2013 numbers aside he really could be a nice trade piece with the market for starting pitching as it is.
          3) Wood – agree’d he will regress in 2014, but the FO willing to listen to any offers for him could cause him to be moved “if” “the price is right”.
          4 Hammel – also agree’d 2014’s version of Feldman.
          5 Arrietta – could be part of a package of players/pitchers traded at the deadline. He has great stuff, but like a horse he needs to be led the right way.

          Then in AAA we will have a combination of…

          Loux
          Rusin (how many more options does he have?)
          Hendricks
          Ramirez
          Grimm
          Cabrera(I think is better suited for the pen, as he has never had any success above AA level)

          And then at AA we will have…

          CJ Edwards
          P Johnson
          C Black
          Jockich
          Pineyro

          So yes I do see them rolling the dice, but maybe in a more different way. Going with a more youthful cheaper starting rotation in the near future vice OVER PAYING FA’s on the open market. And I know before most will say this the are prospects and they do not all make it. But it is good to see this many options in the CUBS system.

          Anyways this is how I am seeing the starting rotation.

          • TheWrongGuy

            I forgot to add Brett Marshall for the AAA rotation possibilities.

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

            So if EJax plays like he’s capable and gets off to a hot start do we capitalize and trade him or make him a long-term asset?

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

            They are all prospects and won’t all make it. But finally we have some depth. They don’t all have to make it.

  • cubtex

    Congratulations to all those fine young men and women who are signing today to play a sport at the collegiate level! It is a special day for the athletes and parents!

    • CubbyDenCritic

      We should really praise all those young men & women who put their signature down on a piece a paper and become military members to protect this Nation….those are our real Nation’s Heroes !……….not these high school kids who are looking for the big pay day down the road.

      • cubtex

        I have one of each and I am proud of both of them! Not all kids signing to play a sport in college are looking for a big pay day! What about the tennis players, golfers,volleyball,track and field others.

        • CubbyDenCritic

          College Sports is a major business today…..hundreds of millions of dollars is brought in from Football, Basketball & Hockey tv revenue…..some of that money, required by state govt, is funnel to other school sports……College volleyball, Lacrosse, Track all has value dealing with Olympics and school revenue……..
          I tell you something about me….back in the 90’s, I was a high school instructor down in Florida…..in my 5th year teaching, I had several African American high school athletes in my class who were looked at to play football at FSU, Miami U, Alabama…..these guys were failing my class….I gave them re-tests, extra work, etc to give them a passing grade….I even had the answers of the test on my blackboard….they still failed…..their pencil had a higher I.Q then these guys…….their average was around 20%….I was offered college football season tickets to change their grades from “F” to “B”…this was not fair for those who did pas my class……I refused to change the athletes grades….he said I was “Racists”….far from it…I was a fair person, and the school deans knew it…….my Principal did not renew my contract and fired me at the end of the school year. …the Principal changed the grades himself for these failed high school athletes…they not even failed my class, but several others………I soon got another school job for the next school season…..but the Principal who fired me, was African American, and had influence with the school system….he got me “blackballed” from the school system and the other school Principal had to take back her job offer. She knew what happen, was sorry, but she wanted to keep her job.
          Years later, I was offer a job from her school, but I turned it down. I did enjoy teaching, but it takes one bad person who can change your life path.
          At the end, those athletes never did make it big in college…..several ended up in prison for selling Drugs / Robberies.
          Always teach your kids honesty and good manners.

          • cubtex

            I see that first hand at the Univ of Texas. They bring in the most $ of any college in the nation. What I have a problem with is that you generalized every athlete into this big $ payday who don’t care about academics etc. I take offense to that. Of course you have some of those kids but there are many many more who strive to excel in the classrooms and the athletic field. Today is a great day for thousands of those athletes(who many would not be able to get an education) if it were not for their hardwork in the classroom and the athletic field!

          • CubbyDenCritic

            Your last line said I was talking about….many of these athletes only work hard on the playing field, and not in the classroom……I would say less then 5% of all athletes have high grades/ major studies……most of the college courses taken by these athletes are not major studies…..Derick Rose is a fine example of what I talked about…..went to a university, were issues with his exams, left early for the big pay day…….I just think the Public puts to much praise & glory on athletes that will seek the Big Pay Day……many high school athletes fall harder in life then making it to the Pros….. ……I also blame the Major Sports on accepting these kids before they graduate from college.

          • cubtex

            You couldn’t be more wrong!

          • bpot92

            I disagree as a College athlete myself, although not D1, 90% of my school athletes are a 2.5 or better with my soccer team averaging well over a 3.0 for the 42 of us on the team. Most college athletes wont go on to play in the pros and need a degree. And some dont get a full ride. To say that thousands of kids are only looking at money to me is generalizing kids that work hard to balance 12-18 credit hours as well as a full 6 day commitment to sports ( NCAA requires one day off a week) and in the offseason we have to hit the weight room and try and find a job to make some money so we arent broke.

          • BillyFinT

            I took 22 credit hours in college, but I spent more than 27 hours per week in classrooms and labs. I had summer courses and attended conventions around the world, but I still underachieved. Of course, that was a really good college, and I must work with the smartest people from the world. We naturally expected each other to be successful.

            I doubt a college athlete can do that. And school work really shouldn’t be a priority. It means S and H and * and T after one graduated. The point is to have fun in college, make good friends, find satisfaction doing something one loves, and build a career out of one’s experience. Hopefully, they all come together to help the athlete be happy in life after college.

          • bpot92

            My thing is that I would rather work my butt off now and play both a sport and double major and be an honors student while taking classes that I have a passion in (Business) in order to find a job that doesn’t feel like “work”. Theres that quote that says if you find a career you love, you will never work a day in your life” and I also feel that to me, as an ultra- competitive person I want to beat the next guy in everything I do from whether it be on the field, in the gym, in the class, or at my job. I want to be the best at everything I do and collegiate level sports gives us students something that is what partying is to other people. I am not a partier, and when I had to quit soccer due to multiple concussions, including one that lasted a year, it really took a hit on my fun. They say going to school is like having a full time job, and playing a sport makes it even harder but the rewards of being at that level of competition and the benefits of balancing school sports, work, and friends is something that will help in life. If I could I would definitely go back to playing, even though it would make my job in school that much harder

          • BillyFinT

            Competitiveness, yes, keep that in you. But college = “full time job”? I don’t see how.

            You can’t always win, and you can’t expect a friend to always help you. Actually, we can’t expect anyone to help each one of us. The best we do, as a civil person, is to reach out and help as many as we can, regardless of the return. But there are always those who’ll refuse your help. And you need to ask yourself: Was I wrong? This person doesn’t really need me? Or is it my approach? Or my timing in the person’s life?

            You can’t satisfy everyone, and nobody can really satisfy you all the time. That’s why there’s college, where a young, aspiring person has a chance to fail but still given a second or third or endless chance to learn how to get the best out of it.

            That’s my belief, at least. I think athletes will need to find a balance in work and life, eventually, whether they like it or not. That’s not college it for, though.

          • bpot92

            By full time job I meant that they say for every one credit hour you spend in the class room you should spend 2-3 out of the class room minimum. Thats easily 30-40 hours a week if you take 15 or more credit hours and thats the minimum they suggest you spend.

          • BillyFinT

            I see. Thanks for posting. It’s important to hear from the perspective of college athletes nowadays. When I was in college, more than 10 years ago, I visited some big name colleges (sports program), and most “full time” athletes didn’t spend enough on academics. They were in good colleges, but I didn’t see they understood how privileged they are to be there. They spent way too much time playing when they were not doing sports. Now I look back, it really didn’t matter.

          • paulcatanese

            And for every athlete that falls into the category that you have stated above, there are teachers that also belong there.
            Ones that do not live up to what they are supposed to be doing, but are bad at it and have no clue. They remain because of
            seniority or union help. They cannot be fired because of it, and have no business teaching.
            I works both ways. The “student athletes ” that you write about are in the minority.
            I have had four of them graduate with honors and one with a PHD. You are wrong.
            I agree about the Military though, that’s a great thing,
            but don’t sell the College athlete short, because of you’re bad experience.

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

            I saw a video of a high schooler, maybe it was from last year, and he was picking up the hats and saying “no, not this one,” then onto the next one and repeating the process. Finally he picked up the one for the school he was interested in.

            The scene literally made me want to vomit. The kid may go on to be great but anybody that is gonna make the afternoon THAT much about themselves has his head up his rear end.

            That’s one thing I love about my boy Kevin Durant in OKC. Not that he’s a high school player but he announced his big contract a few years ago on Twitter. No big deal, no show, just a simple “resigned with OKC, God is good.” Wish more young people would have KD as a role model instead of Carmelo…

  • CubbyDenCritic

    The Dodgers TV & Radio network team has to be the best in baseball……and why doesn’t Vince Scully have a vote for the HOF?

  • calicub

    I’ve posted this before, but since it’s once again coming up, I’ll post it again:

    The MLB and MLBPA need to address the entirety of their Joint Drug Agreement. The mere fact that a player must be caught twice with amphetamines to be suspended 25 games (when they are not only violating substance possession laws, but also committing prescription drug fraud when taking drugs like adderoll or riddelin w/o a prescription) but a player who is caught using cannabis is as culpable and as in the wrong as someone using PED’s.

    Each and every year more states legalize/decriminalize cannabis for recreational and medicinal purposes and nearly half of the nation’s states already have provisions allowing for such things, with New York, Florida and Georgia looking to be the next states to do so. To punish players for what in many states is a legal act is reprehensible and asinine.

    Currently there are 13 MLB teams in states with legalization, decriminalization, or medical use, with five more teams to be added once New York, Florida and Georgia pass their laws.

    With that being said, i understand punishment for drug use, even if it is legal, as MLB players are role-models to the youth. But to punish them in the same manner as those whose drug use truly undermines the integrity of Baseball is unacceptable.

    • MarkleMcD

      I don’t agree with laws that ban pot, but even with states that have legalized it, it remains illegal at the federal level and federal laws trump state ones. It’s a clusterEffbut I don’t think baseball should be in the business of ok’ing something that is still illegal.

      • John_CC

        All calicub is saying is that the MLB needs to be consistent. All professional leagues need to be. The prohibition and silly “reefer madness” that persists into the 21st C is asinine. It is not a PED and should not be looked at in the same way.

        • calicub

          thank you for seeing my point.

          Yes cannabis is illegal federally and baseball need not be involved with politics, but with growing tends in that area as well as growing distaste for those who use PED’s, the equivalence MLB makes between cannabis and steroids is ludicrous.

          You have to commit 4 felonies before you get banned for amphetamines, but you can do something that is technically legal once and you are worse than that amphetamine user.

          There’s no common sense to it.

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

            Absolutely agree with that. Our drug laws and the drug war have messed things up from the top down in this country. The major league sports are simply going along to get along with the example set by the government.

            If a player tests positive for pot, to me, that is an internal team issue. He may have greatly reduced performance so that is up to his management to police. It’s certainly not a performance enhancer and while it is illegal (in most states, and federally) whether or not that should even be the case is up for debate by many.

            John CC said it well when referencing “Reefer Madness.” It’s a silly outdated view on things that persists, wastes tons of government dollars and fills our prisons with non violent offenders who upon release have limited opportunities. In a sense, we send potheads into prison and they come out full scale criminals. It’s a broken system. And don’t get me started on the Mexican cartels and all the violence created by the criminalization of drug use. So much crime would evaportate overnight if the laws were different…

            Anyway, I’ll climb off my soapbox. Basically my stance is if people want to put chemicals in their body, as long as they’re not driving or operating machinery. What business is it of mine or anyone else’s?

          • BillyFinT

            I concur. That’s a point I’ve been trying to make in the past. There are so many types of PED. It’s an umbrella term for many things fans don’t understand. I doubt baseball management understand, either. After all, management doesn’t need to know what’s right or wrong. He can just feed players anything without risking himself or the owner–no law in baseball to punish him.

            There have been inconclusive research results claiming what most these types do to a sportsman’s body. They need to publish solid proof what each drug does, and whether it actually enhances or really decreases player performance.

  • 07GreyDigger

    Saying that communication is key for Rick Renteria is like saying Milton Bradley was a terrible free agent signing. Good job Buster Olney!

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

    Remember when Fuld was traded and his first week he was hitting home runs, stealing all those bases and seriously showing out. After the trade I remember those unhappy with that move were even more upset because they always knew Fuld was a future all-star.

    I always liked the guy, but man did he come back to earth. Tuffy Rhodes anyone?