Countdown to Cubs Cactus League Openers: 10 days
The Cubs are reportedly going to limit Jorge Soler’s playing time and monitor him very closely during Spring Training. Nothing is wrong with Jorge Soler and the Cubs want to keep it that way.
Joe Maddon explained the team’s plans for Soler with the beat writers Sunday. The Cubs are not going to push him too hard too early and if the plan is successful, Soler won’t have days off figured in to his schedule when the season begins.
The Cubs are going to gradually build up his playing time this spring and “play it from there” according to the Sun-Times.
Jorge Soler needs to stay on the field this year. And the Cubs have set up a program they think will keep him off the disabled list this season.
Not only did Joe Maddon not realize just how big Jorge Soler is, but he was impressed with Soler’s mature approach at the plate. Maddon explained, “He’s not up there just hacking or swinging which is kind of unusual. A lot of the young Latin kids have come up, and plate discipline is not part of the game.”
The Cubs being cautious with Soler should not come as a surprise. In order for the team to reach its goal this season, Jorge Soler will have to be on the field and provide an answer to one of the Cubs many questions.
The Cubs are believed to be listening to offers for Travis Wood and could move him this spring to not only clear up a spot on the roster but to free up payroll ($5.685 million). As the Sun-Times pointed out, this time last year Wood was coming off a breakthrough season and a trip to the All-Star Game. Wood struggled with his command and mechanics last year and could be pitching for another organization in the not-to-distant future.
Wood told the beat writers if he gets traded, he gets traded. It’s part of the business.
The Cubs tried to sign Wood to a long-term extension last winter. But the lefty rejected the Cubs’ offer and decided to go year-to-year with the arbitration process. According to Sunday’s report from the Sun-Times, the Cubs offer was for four years and around $8 million per season.
Travis Wood sees the pieces coming together and would like to stay with the Cubs like his battery mate from the last two seasons, Welington Castillo.
There is a lot of competition for the fifth spot in the rotation. Maddon mentioned Sunday counting Wood there are seven pitchers in camp competing for the last slot in the rotation: Travis Wood, Tsuyoshi Wada, Jacob Turner, Felix Doubront, Edwin Jackson, Dallas Beeler and Eric Jokisch.
Travis Wood said he learned a lot last season and was humbled by the experience.
The only pitcher in camp that has been slowed due to an injury is LHP Tsuyoshi Wada.
According to multiple reports, Wada is dealing with tightness in his hamstring. The Cubs do not anticipate the injury to linger, but he was held out of drills on Sunday.
Tsuyoshi Wada re-signed with the Cubs in the off-season, a one-year, $4 million contract. Wada is competing for a spot in the back of the rotation … or worse case, a lefty role in the bullpen.
Updated 8:30am CST – According to Jesse Sanchez, the Red Sox have won the Yoan Moncada sweepstakes and signed him in the $30 million range. The signing has not been confirmed by another member of the mainstream media.
According to Jon Heyman, bids are rolling in for INF Yoan Moncada and they are believed to be over $20 million as expected. Heyman reported the Yankees, Red Sox and Padres are believed to be the three teams currently talking to Moncada’s agent.
Joel Sherman questioned if the signing bonus numbers being floated for Yoan Moncada are more agent driven than anything else. Sherman thinks a $20-30 million bonus would be more in line and that would keep the Yankees in the mix. Sherman is not sure if the Yankees would go much beyond $30 million to sign him.
Based on reports and as expected, Yoan Moncada is likely to sign with a team soon which would keep the Cubs out of the process.
Spring Training Notes
Day Three of Camp Maddon reportedly went well, pitchers kept pitching to catchers that kept catching the baseball. The news of Tsuyoshi Wada being slowed by tightness in his hamstring appeared to be the only not-so-positive news out of the Cubs complex. Here are the notes …
- Jon Lester, Travis Wood, Edwin Jackson, Jason Motte and Jason Hammel were among the group of pitchers that pitched on Sunday.
- Joe Maddon told the beat writers Sunday he likes having three catchers in Miguel Montero, David Ross and Welington Castillo.
- Maddon told his players they could keep their long hair and facial hair if they would like. Maddon’s quote to the beat writers, “We have some great hair on this team … really good hair.” Maddon is still learning players’ names and numbers. He’s walking around with a roster.
- According to Carrie Muskat, part of Maddon’s message to the team Wednesday will be to play just as hard in March as they would in June, July or August and hopefully October. Maddon likes winning, even Spring Training games.
- Maddon told the beat writers that Miguel Montero is a “bright guy” and explained “not many guys use adverbs when they speak.” According to the Tribune, Maddon is going to talk to Montero and work with him to figure out what it will take to keep him as fresh as possible. Montero wore down in the second half last season. The Cubs want to keep that from happening again this year.
News, Notes and Rumors
Marc Topkin ranked which departures from the Rays will hurt most … and obviously Joe Maddon and Dave Martinez made his list.
And speaking of the Rays, Marc Topkin also reported Sunday that MLB has not made a decision on the tampering charges filed against the Cubs for Joe Maddon. Topkin thinks the investigation, that was supposed to be concluded last calendar year, is winding down. He thinks MLB will eventually announce that no evidence was found that the Cubs tampered with Maddon.
David Price said he would be open to talking long-term extension with the Tigers. According to Jon Heyman, Price wouldn’t mind staying with Detroit and the Tigers are interested in trying to extend his deal and keep him in Motown.
The Braves kind of added an outfielder to its roster Sunday … Melvin Upton Jr. The Braves informed the media that B.J., which is short for Bossman Jr., would like to go by his given name this year.
According to Neil Steinberg, the view into Wrigley Field is only blocked if you want to watch the game.
The White Sox and Dodgers are having issues with scorpions, and not the old metal band, at their Spring Training complex in Glendale.
Jim Bowden posted a list, and a report, of the pitchers and catchers to watch this spring.
And last, but not least … If you’re on Twitter, appreciate good photography and like the Cubs, you’re doing it all wrong if you’re not following Brian Cassella (@briancassella).
This Day In Cubstory
2007 – Cubs signed free agent Hector Almonte
2007 – Rangers signed free agent Sammy Sosa
2000 – Cubs manager Don Baylor named four team captains: Sammy Sosa, Mark Grace, Kevin Tapani and Rick Aguilera. The first time the Cubs had captains since Ron Santo in the 60s and early 70s.
1988 – Facing the possibility of losing the 1990 All-Star Game and future post-season games, Chicago Aldermen, by a vote of 7-2, allowed the Cubs to play 18 night games at Wrigley Field. The old ballyard became the last Major League Ballpark to add lights. Owner P.K. Wrigley planned for Wrigley Field to be one of the first ballparks in the majors to have lights in 1942, but the idea was abandoned when the materials were needed for the war effort.
1979 – Cubs traded Greg Gross, Dave Radar and Manny Trillo to the Phillies for Henry Mack, Derek Botelho, Jerry Martin, Barry Foote and Ted Sizemore
1972 – Rondell White, born
1939 – Cubs purchased Woody English from the Brooklyn Dodgers
1937 – Cardinals purchased Dick Siebert from the Braves
1932 – Jim Bolger, born
1868 – Lew Camp, born