The Cubs returned to the field this weekend, the practice fields that is, as Spring Training officially got underway in Mesa. Pitchers and catchers reported Friday, the first on-field workout was Saturday and the first images of pitchers pitching and catchers catching made the way around the Internets and Twitters.
Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Joe Maddon held their pre-Spring Training sit down with the beat writers. And for Maddon’s team this year, the slogan is ‘Embrace the Target.’
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer spent time on the radio and provided two very informative interviews. Epstein maintained he is on the same page with Cubs ownership and said there is no sense of urgency on his contract extension.
The Cubs added a veteran reliever on a minor deal while still monitoring the free agent market … and that includes Dexter Fowler and Austin Jackson.
Here are the headlines from an incredibly busy weekend, and welcomed return to Cubs baseball …
Theo Epstein Talks Cubs and Rotisserie Baseball on SiriusXM Fantasy Baseball
Theo Epstein talked about his team, and a little Fantasy Baseball, with Jim Bowden and Craig Mish on SiriusXM Radio’s fantasy channel.
This is an extremely interesting, informative and entertaining interview with Epstein in which he talks in detail about multiple subjects and players for nearly 20 minutes.
A must read for all Cubs fans …
The CCO Talks Cubs Catching Prospects on South Bend Cubs Radio
Tom’s five-part series talking Cubs prospects with South Bend Cubs play-by-play man Darin Pritchett and Rick Carter wrapped up last week with a discussion about the backstops in the system.
Willson Contreras is one of, if not the best catching prospect in the game. But there is more in the system behind Contreras.
Tom also discussed relievers and piggyback starters in the organization.
The Daily CCO: It’s Time for Pitchers and Catchers to Report and Other Cubs News and Notes
Pitchers and catchers officially reported to the Cubs’ complex in Mesa. And baseball flipped the switch from the off-season to Spring Training.
Joe Maddon met with his coaches prior to reporting day.
The Cubs-Cardinals rivalry is going to be a heavyweight boxing match all season … Oh, it’s on! The Cubs continue to be ranked as the best team in baseball.
The Daily Report includes This Day in Cubs History and a ton of news, notes and links … and videos of Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant.
CCO Discussion: Who is the Cubs Linchpin?
The first discussion report of the spring focused on which player is the Cubs linchpin for the upcoming season … go share your opinion, there are no wrong answers.
Cubs Prospects Place High on Keith Law’s Positional Rankings
Five Cubs’ prospects made the cut on Keith Law’s positional rankings … click on the link to see where Willson Contreras, Gleyber Torres and Jeimer Candelario rank among the other minor leaguers at their positions.
Cubs Sign RHP Aaron Crow to a Minor League Contract
The Cubs added veteran RHP Aaron Crow to the organization on a minor league deal with a non-roster invite to big league camp. The Cubs’ Spring Training roster stands at 61 players with the addition of a rehabbing Crow and released LHP Luis Cruz.
Crow is not expected to be ready until June … and this low-risk signing could pay off later in the season.
Cubs Will Find Answers for Outfield Defense in Spring Training
The Cubs projected starting outfield is Jason Heyward in center, Kyle Schwarber in left and Jorge Soler in right field. Chris Coghlan should see time in both corner spots and begin the year as the fourth outfielder and another utility option for Joe Maddon.
The outfield defense remains a concern for the team. Matt Szczur could play a role as a late-inning defensive replacement.
Javier Baez will see a lot of playing time in the outfield during Spring Training. And Ben Zobrist could be used as a defensive replacement.
The Cubs will sort things out in the spring, but may not be done adding a defensive outfielder to the roster that would allow Heyward to play right field.
Theo Epstein Maintains on Same Page with Cubs Ownership, Says No Sense of Urgency about Extension
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are on the last year of the five-year contract they signed in October 2011. Epstein has said publicly for 18 months that he and Tom Ricketts are on the same page and just haven’t had the chance to finalize an extension.
Epstein’s contract is expected to be extended at some point during Spring Training before the season starts on April 4.
The Daily CCO: Embrace the Target, Lineup Questions, Cubs Pitching Plans and Other Spring News
Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Joe Maddon met with the beat writers Friday for the pre-Spring Training debriefing. Maddon confirmed the theme for this year’s team is ‘Embrace the Target’ and he explained the inspiration behind it.
Maddon’s already fielding lineup questions. The Cubs skipper said Zobrist and Heyward are candidates to leadoff, but he hasn’t talked to Heyward yet to find out his comfort level.
The Cubs are backing off Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester and John Lackey this spring. And for Arrieta, the Cubs will watch his early season workload. Arrieta, Lester and Lackey will not pitch in the Cactus League games right away, those starts will go to Travis Wood, Trevor Cahill, Adam Warren and Clayton Richard.
Daily Report includes all of the news, notes and links from Day One of Cubs Camp, This Day in Cubs History and news from around baseball.
Lots of information in this report …
Cubs Reportedly Monitoring Free Agent Market, Including Dexter Fowler and Austin Jackson
It’s unlikely the Cubs will make a major trade this spring. But Jed Hoyer would not rule out signing a free agent or two, either a pitcher or position player or both.
According to the Sun-Times, the Cubs are keeping an eye on Dexter Fowler. And Austin Jackson is also a possibility to help with the outfield defense.
Matt Murton Extremely Grateful for Opportunity with the Cubs
Matt Murton was a fan favorite over a decade ago when he broke in the majors with the Cubs. Murton is back and a lot has changed since he was traded from the Cubs to the A’s in July 2008.
Murton is happy and very grateful to be back with the Cubs … and the front office he knows well from his days in the Red Sox system.
Orioles Agree to Terms with RHP Yovani Gallardo, Reportedly Determined to Sign Dexter Fowler
The Orioles finally agreed to terms on a three-year, $35 million contract with RHP Yovani Gallardo that includes an option for a fourth year. The first step to Fowler signing with the Orioles is almost official. Gallardo has a physical scheduled for Monday.
Dexter Fowler is expected to sign with the O’s and is talking to Baltimore about a two-year contract that could include an option for a third season.
Jed Hoyer Talks Cubs on Inside the Clubhouse
Jed Hoyer joined Bruce Levine and Jordan Bernfield on Saturday morning … and talked about his team before the first official on-field workout.
Hoyer discussed Joe Maddon, Ben Zobrist, Jason Heyward, Javier Baez, Adam Warren and the Cubs’ unique pitching staff.
Another must read for all Cubs fans …
The Daily CCO: Jake Arrieta’s On Board with Cubs Plan, David Ross and Spring Training News
Jake Arrieta had a historically good season and earned the NL Cy Young Award. Arrieta has admitted on multiple occasions he ran out of gas in the NLDS and NLCS. The Cubs have a plan to keep Arrieta as fresh as possible at the end of the season and in the playoffs. Arrieta is on board with the plan.
Planning for something that may not happen is usually not the best course of action.
David Ross confirmed he is retiring after the Cubs play their final game of the year … and Ross wants to go out a winner. Ross has become quite the lightning rod for the section of the fan base that still views batting average as a way to gage a player’s value.
All of the news, notes and links from Day Two of Cubs Camp are included in the Daily Report, along with rumors and news from around baseball … and the popular look back at the day that was in Cubs history.
Report: Austin Jackson Could Land with Rangers or Cubs
Austin Jackson is still on the market. The Indians are interested and so are the Angels and White Sox according to Jon Heyman.
A day after Jesse Rogers mentioned Jackson could possibility return, Nick Cafardo reported he could land with the Rangers or Cubs.