Countdown to Pitchers and Catchers Reporting to Mesa: 1 day
Baseball’s off-season officially comes to an end today as five teams open camp in Arizona and Florida. For the Cubs, the team wraps up its organizational meetings today as the early birds to Mesa continue to get their work in.
It’s been one of the most active off-seasons in the history of the game, and the Cubs were right in the middle of the action throughout the winter. The team has transitioned from building mode to focusing on competing and winning at the big league level.
#BaseballBegins today for the San Francisco Giants, Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds in Arizona while the Philadelphia Phillies and Pittsburgh Pirates get underway in Florida.
According to a report from the Associated Press, records at the Cook County Clerk’s office shows Ernie Banks was buried at Graceland Cemetery. Spokesman, Jim Scalzitti said Mr. Banks was buried at the cemetery, located near Wrigley Field, a week after his funeral.
When reports surfaced last week about the dispute between the Banks’ family and Regina Rice over his estate and whether or not his remains would be cremated, the location of his body was unknown. Neither the funeral home nor the cemetery reportedly had Mr. Banks’ remains.
Cubs Third Biggest Storyline of Spring Training?
According to Jon Paul Morosi, the measure of the Cubs’ win-now mentality is the third biggest storyline of Spring Training.
Morosi contends the Cubs did not hire Joe Maddon and sign Jon Lester if the team was not serious about winning. And if that is the case, Kris Bryant should break camp on the Cubs’ roster if he earns the third base job in Spring Training.
Morosi acknowledged the importance of a full-year of control the Cubs would gain by having him start the season in the minors, especially considering who his agent is. Delaying his service-time clock aside, Morosi thinks the Cubs “are obligated to put their best team on the field” when the season starts.
Spring Training Notes
Camp Maddon does not officially open until Thursday, but while the organizational meetings were taking place Tuesday, Justin Grimm, Edwin Jackson, Zac Rosscup, Brian Schlitter and Tsuyoshi Wada threw side sessions. And Anthony Rizzo has already reported to camp.
As previously reported, Starlin Castro has been at the Cubs’ facility in Mesa for the better part of six weeks. Castro is preparing for an injury-free spring.
It’s unclear which pitchers and catchers are not already in camp. Based on the various photos and reports, a majority of the Cubs’ Spring Training roster is in Mesa and has unofficially begun drills and throwing side sessions.
Pitchers and catcher must be in Mesa by Thursday. The first on-field workout is scheduled for Friday. Position players must report by Tuesday, Feb. 24 and the first full squad workout of the spring is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 25.
Cubs Get an ‘A’
Jim Bowden handed out his final grades to all 30 teams for the improvements each front office made to their organizations this winter. And the former GM and current co-host of Inside Pitch on MLB Network Radio gave the Cubs an ‘A’ for their off-season moves.
Bowden ranked only the Padres and White Sox above the Cubs. Bowden has been very supportive of the way Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have built up the organization over the last three years. Bowden obviously likes the additions of Joe Maddon, Jon Lester, Miguel Montero and Dexter Fowler and feels this off-season was the “last phase” of the Cubs building process.
Bowden thinks the Cubs are a year away “from being serious contenders” but would not rule out the Cubs making noise this season “as their long wait for their prospects to develop is finally coming to fruition.”
The Red Sox (A), Nationals (A-) and Marlins (A-) also received A’s from Bowden.
- Full Report from Jim Bowden – Off-Season Grades
- Full Report from Jim Bowden – Five Teams that Improved this Off-Season
Best and Worst of Baseball’s Second Season
Jayson Stark conducted a survey and posted the results of the best and worst of an active off-season throughout the game. Stark asked which teams improved, which teams didn’t and of all the signings and trades, which teams did the best jobs this winter.
The Cubs received 11 votes for the most improved team in the NL, tied with the Marlins and in a distant second place to the Padres. The free agent signing of Jon Lester ended up with eight votes and third place in that category while his contract received six votes for the most outrageous multi-year contract of the winter.
News, Notes and Rumors
Dave Cameron took a stab at placing a value on the farm systems at FanGraphs. And as one would expect, the Cubs system, with all of the elite talent, comes out on top of his estimated values … and it’s not even close.
The Phillies told the media Tuesday that Cole Hamels will be available for Saturday. According to Jon Paul Morosi, based on that information it’s safe to assume a trade is not imminent.
According to a report from Patrick Mooney, Jon Lester wants the pressure of World Series expectations.
Jason Motte believes the Cubs have what it takes to win it all according to the Sporting News.
Jason Hammel thinks the Cubs rotation is “going to be pretty freaking good.”
Edwin Jackson, Travis Wood, Ryan Sweeney, Mike Olt and Daniel Bard are looking for bounce back seasons according to Carrie Muskat.
Jayson Stark summed up baseball’s busy winter.
The Marlins would like to add lefty reliever Phil Coke to its Spring Training roster on a minor league deal. The Fish view Coke as a back-up plan in the event LHP Andrew McKirahan, that they swiped from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft, does not stick according to Joe Frisaro.
From super-stat man Christopher Kamka: Most home runs in a single ballpark – Mel Ott hit 323 at the Polo Grounds, Sammy Sosa homered 293 times at Wrigley and Mr. Cub, Ernie Banks smacked 290 longballs at his Friendly Confines.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Joe Strauss took a look at 10 people that will impact the NL Central this season … and three of his 10 are the Cubs’ Joe Maddon, Kris Bryant and Jon Lester.
Former Cubs’ OF Reed Johnson signed a minor league contract with the Marlins. Johnson received an invite to big league camp and can make $1.25 million if he makes the team. Johnson has an opt out and can request his release on March 29 if he’s not going to be added to the 40-man roster and be on the Marlins’ Opening Day roster.
And, last but not least, Dayn Perry provided a recap of a Cubs-Reds game in 1984 that was interrupted by 33 minutes of chaos.
This Day In Cubstory
2013 – Cubs traded Tony Campana to the Diamondbacks for Jesus Castillo and Erick Leal
2012 – Cubs signed free agent Nate Robertson
1998 – Harry Caray passed away four days after suffering a heart attack during Valentine’s Day dinner with his wife, Dutchie. ‘The Mayor of Rush Street’ began his broadcasting career in 1945 with the St. Louis Cardinals. The Hall of Famer called games for the Cardinals, Athletics, White Sox and Cubs.
1996 – Cubs signed free agent Carlos Pulido
1993 – Cubs signed free agent Mike Dyer
1984 – Brian Bogusevic, born
1973 – Shawn Estes, born
1964 – Kevin Tapani, born
1949 – Jerry Morales, born
1939 – Bob Miller, born
1939 – Cubs purchased Ken Jungels from the Indians
1929 – Cal Neeman, born
1909 – The Brooklyn Superbas purchased Doc Marshall from the Cubs
1891 – Zip Zabel, born
1875 – Walter Thompson, born