Pitchers and catchers do not officially report to Fitch Park until next Sunday but the Cubs loaded the equipment truck on Friday destined for Mesa.
The Cubs announced six players from the system will join the big league team in camp this spring. Javier Baez will spend his spring with the Major League team but the Cubs have no plans to rush Baez to the majors. Baez figures to begin the year with the Daytona Cubs and is expected to see a majority of his playing time at shortstop, with a little third base mixed in according to the Tribune. Baez just turned 20 in December and has not played a full season of pro ball.
The Cubs received good news from Matt Garza on Friday. Garza completed his first bullpen session of the spring, right on schedule.
It is Groundhog Day, pitchers and catchers report in eight days and the Cubs kick off their 2013 Cactus League schedule in just 21 days …
During the convention, Matt Garza said he was on track to throw his first bullpen session of the spring on February 1 … and Garza did just that on Friday. Garza tweeted that he completed his first pen of the spring on Friday and said he was happy to be back on the bump.
The Cubs avoided arbitration with Garza on the Thursday before the convention began and will pay the right-hander $10.25 million this season. There have been rumblings that the Cubs could decide to sign Garza to an extension after he proves he is healthy in the spring. Questions have surfaced if the Cubs would be better off with Garza on the team and moving forward with a trio of Jeff Samardzija, Edwin Jackson and Garza at the top of the rotation than trading him for a smaller package than they would have received last July.
Matt Garza was 5-7 in 18 starts last season with a 3.91 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP before being shut down in July and spending the remainder of the year on the DL.
Kane County Cougars – Meet the Cubs
The Cubs new Class-A affiliate, the Kane County Cougars, hosted a ‘Meet the Cubs’ event on Friday night. Jason McLeod, Brandon Hyde and Cougars’ manager, Mark Johnson, were on hand and fielded several questions. The Daily Herald’s Bruce Miles tweeted several notes from Fifth Third Bank Ballpark.
- Jason McLeod would not commit on which players would start the season with the Cougars, but let Albert Almora’s name slip out when answering the question.
- When asked which player is a darkhorse in the Cubs’ system, Austin Reed was the name thrown out. Reed is the brother of White Sox closer, Addison Reed, and was selected by the Cubs in the 12th round of the 2010 draft. Reed posted a 5-8 record in 38 games, all out of the pen, last year for the Peoria Chiefs with a 3.65 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP (49 strikeouts, 24 walks and 67 hits allowed in 61 2/3 innings).
- Brandon Hyde said Dan Vogelbach is more athletic than meets the eye but outfield is not in near future plans.
- Jason McLeod said Javier Baez is more advanced at shortstop than Starlin Castro was at the same age. Baez turned 20 on December 1.
- McLeod also said the Cubs are not in the process of rushing guys.
- Mark Johnson was very complimentary of Dan Vogelbach. Johnson said Vogelbach was the best teammate you could ever have at Boise and both Vogelbach and Albert Almora “are team captains all the way to the big leagues.”
- Brandon Hyde indicated that Albert Almora is a plus defender right now.
Non-Roster Invitees to Spring Training
The Cubs announced Friday that six players from the system will be in big league camp on non-roster invites. Javier Baez’s invitation was expected and he will likely spend a majority of the long Spring Training with the team. Baez was the most notable of the six players but another player to keep an eye on is catcher Rafael Lopez.
Rafael Lopez hit .279/.355/.394/.750 with 19 doubles, two triples and two home runs in 70 games last season over three levels of the Cubs’ system. Lopez played in 35 games for the D-Cubs and put together a .269/.338/.403 line with a .742 OPS and hit both of his home runs and 10 of his doubles in High-A.
The Cubs have officially invited 22 players to camp but two more could be announced soon. Dale Sveum said during the convention that they would have 64 players in camp this spring. And the other two players could be added once Lendy Castillo clears waivers and the signing of Scott Hairston is made official.
The following players will be in camp with the Cubs this spring:
Pitchers: Andrew Carpenter, Casey Coleman, Jaye Chapman, Dayan Diaz, Jensen Lewis, Blake Parker, Zach Putnam, Nick Struck, Hisanori Takahashi and Cory Wade
Catchers: J.C. Boscan, Michael Brenly and Rafael Lopez
Infielders: Javier Baez, Brent Lillibridge, Alberto Gonzalez, Edwin Maysonet and Brad Nelson
Outfielders: Brian Bogusevic, Johermyn Chavez and Darnell McDonald
News and Notes
Jim Hendry is his own toughest critic according to a report from the Sun-Times. Gordon Wittenmyer delivered an excellent report on the Cubs’ former GM … and in the article, Wittenmyer reported that according to one of his sources it was Crane Kenney that closed the deal to sign Alfonso Soriano.
The Mets signed Marlon Byrd to a minor league deal that included a non-roster invite to Spring Training. Byrd was traded to Boston last May then finished the year serving a 50-game suspension for testing positive to PEDs. Byrd is expected to compete for a job as the Mets’ fifth outfielder.
Chris Carpenter cleared waivers and was outrighted to the Red Sox’s Triple-A affiliate. There were rumblings when the Red Sox DFA’d Carpenter that the Cubs had interest in signing him if he cleared waivers. Carpenter was considered the big piece of the package that was sent to the Red Sox for Theo Epstein.