The first pitch of the Cubs’ 2011 Cactus League schedule is three days away …
The Cubs continued going about their business Wednesday at Fitch Park. Most of the spring news has been of the off-the-field variety, which is great for this time of year. As the cliché goes, no news is good news.
Mike Quade spent a little time on WGN Radio while Carlos Pena continued stepping forward and two of the Cubs’ top prospects cracked Baseball America’s top 100 list. Here is the update on the day the Chicago Cubs spent more time talking about an injured rival than their own team … Mike Quade on Sports Night
The Cubs skipper joined Dave Kaplan, Brian Noonan and Andrea Darlas during Sports Night (WGN Radio) Wednesday night. Mike Quade sounded like his usual upbeat self and led off the interview by saying what a great time of year it is.
All of the Cubs are healthy right now and hopefully they will remain injury-free for the next five weeks. Quade said he is very happy with the way the first two weeks has gone.
Mike Quade is a huge Led Zeppelin fan and listens to a lot of classic rock/heavy metal music. Quade said, “As long as (Robert) Plant is screaming at me, it’s a good day.” Quade was cranking Zeppelin and the Beatles earlier in the day. Quade likes to listen to music first thing in the morning. Quade added, “A good cup of coffee and some rock ‘n roll gets me going.”
Quade was asked about Carlos Zambrano. The players are happy and ready to go, including Z. Quade really liked the way Zambrano handled himself Tuesday with the media. Quade explained there is a lot that goes on behind the scenes with Zambrano that people do not know about. Zambrano is great to be around. Quade added that Z spends a lot of time in minor league camp talking to the young players during Spring Training.
As for the middle of the lineup, Quade “hasn’t gone there yet.” He acknowledged that players such as Aramis Ramirez, Carlos Pena, Marlon Byrd and Alfonso Soriano would probably hit in the middle. Quade said he would talk to the players to find out their comfort zone and to Rudy Jaramillo before making his decision. Quade admitted he has an idea but has not made any decisions.
The Cubs in all reality have only two open spots, among the position players, up for grabs this spring. But Quade is not closing the door on players have a great camp and forcing themselves onto the roster … like Tyler Colvin did last year. There is not a lot open according to Quade but there is a long way to go before camp breaks and the season starts on April 1.
When asked about the fourth and fifth spots in the rotation, Quade was quick to point out the first half Carlos Silva had last season and that Randy Wells had a really solid year. The Cubs are looking at Andrew Cashner for one of the spots. The Cubs really like Cashner’s upside. As for James Russell, they like what he could bring to the rotation so he will get a shot as well.
Quade spoke highly of Casey Coleman and said, “He did a magnificent job for me.”
Todd Wellemeyer and Braden Looper are also in the mix for the last two spots. Quade said one of the factors in their decision with the staff would be if they think that pitcher could help out of the pen as well. The way it sounded is that the Cubs are looking for the last couple of spots on the staff to be filled with pitchers that can provide a little versatility.
News, Notes and Tweets
Carlos Pena spoke up Wednesday during practice and asked Quade if it was okay “to tell other players some of his ideas for completing plays they were practicing.” According to the Sun-Times, Quade welcomed the different point of view and left Pena in charge as he went to another field.
The pitchers made it through their sliding drills without any injuries.
Geovany Soto is looking to take charge according to a report from Comcast SportsNet.
Tim Sheridan (Boys Of Spring) posted more photos from Fitch Park … including one of Mike Quade throwing batting practice. Sheridan noted that Aramis Ramirez looks healthy and seems to have a spark. Click here for pictures from Wednesday’s practice.
Trey McNutt is in big league camp talking to Kerry Wood and Ryan Dempster while continuing his work with Mark Riggins. McNutt told Patrick Mooney he would like to have a strong year in Double-A, get a promotion late in the season and “maybe break camp with the Cubs next spring.” Not a bad plan from the former 32nd round pick.
Alfonso Soriano talked about how he is dealing with his mother’s death.
Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects of 2011
Baseball America released their 22nd annual Top 100 prospects list Wednesday. To no surprise, Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals came in at number one … followed by Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Two of the Cubs top prospects cracked the top 100 … Brett Jackson and Trey McNutt.
BA ranked Brett Jackson as the 38th best prospect in baseball. Jackson’s best tool is his power and on the 20-80 scouting scale, BA graded Jackson as a 60 … the ETA for Jackson to the big leagues is 2012.
Trey McNutt checked in at number 48. McNutt’s best tool is his fastball according to BA. McNutt graded a 70 on the 20-80 scouting scale with an ETA of 2012.
Chris Archer (27) and Hak-Ju Lee (92) also made the top 100.
Video from Mesa
Quote of the day … Mike Quade on the first 10 days of Spring Training. From the Chicago Sun-Times, “I’ve been thrilled to death with the energy and the way people are going about their business.”
Well, there’s the update … and I’m sticking to it!