Countdown to Pitchers and Catchers: 4 Days
Baseball’s off-season comes to an end this week as camps open in Arizona and Florida. Baseball players will at least officially start practicing baseball at the Cubs’ complex in five days.
Cubs’ pitchers and catchers report on Friday and the first official on-field work out of the spring is Saturday. And the now 60 players on the Cubs’ Spring Training roster must report one week from Tuesday. The first full-squad practice is in nine days.
There wasn’t any movement on the Dexter Fowler to the Orioles front over the weekend. Rumors and reports indicated the Orioles are very interested in signing Fowler, but only if Yovani Gallardo signs first.
Questions popped up about whether or not the Orioles should surrender two draft picks to sign Gallardo and Fowler because even with those two players, Baltimore may not be able to compete for a spot in the playoffs, much less the AL East crown. The Orioles have an incredibly weak system and finishing around .500 and missing the playoffs would further hurt the organization long term.
According to Roch Kubatko, the Orioles’ primary pitching target remains Yovani Gallardo. The Orioles plan on attending Tim Lincecum’s workout, if it happens. Dan Duquette has talked to the Padres about Andrew Cashner and James Shields “but could not come up with the right package” for A.J. Preller. The Orioles are not trading Jonathan Schoop or Kevin Gausman and possibly not Chris Lee.
Another option Duquette has explored to add a bat is trading for Matt Kemp. Making a deal with the Reds for Jay Bruce, signing Pedro Alvarez and/or possibly free agents David Murphy, Will Venable or Matt Joyce could be the direction Duquette decides to go but Fowler, by all accounts, remains the best fit for the Orioles and the team’s preference.
According to the Pacific Coast League’s transactions page, RHP Blake Cooper retired from baseball on Feb. 9. Cooper pitched out of the Iowa Cubs’ pen last season. And there was talk he would be called up as the big league team struggled to find relievers that could throw strikes in May and June.
The Cubs acquired Cooper from the Diamondbacks in exchange for OF Brett Jackson on Aug. 14, 2014. Cooper finished the 2014 season pitching for Double-A Tennessee. In eight appearances for the Smokies, Cooper was 0-1 with a 0.87 ERA and 0.77 WHIP.
Cooper was 7-4 in 50 games, all in relief, for the I-Cubs last season with a 2.63 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and five saves. Cooper allowed 27 runs, 20 earned, on 59 hits with 28 walks and 63 strikeouts in 68 1/3 innings.
Blake Cooper turns 28 at the end of March.
News and Notes
• Ken Rosenthal explained how not every team that’s rebuilding should be accused of tanking.
• RHP Carl Edwards Jr., OF Albert Almora Jr., 3B Jeimer Candelario, RHP Duane Underwood Jr., RHP Pierce Johnson and C Willson Contreras are six prospects to keep an eye on this spring.
• The Cubs are one of several clubs looking to end title droughts this season.
• Dusty Baker said he wishes the Cubs would have added to the roster in 2004 the way they did this off-season according to the Sun-Times. Baker is the Nationals new skipper and he is walking into a situation with a very good roster that could use a very good regular season manager. Baker knows he has a chance to win with the Nationals and would not mind facing the Cubs in the playoffs.
• In his annual “30 teams, 30 questions” column, Ken Davidoff said for the Cubs … will Jason Heyward be able to make the full-time move to center field and succeed in a far greater spotlight?
• According to John Harper, there are plenty storylines around Major League Baseball as Spring Training begins, and at the top of his list … the Cubs.
• Former Cubs’ farmhand C Micah Gibbs retired from baseball earlier this month. The Cubs selected Gibbs in the third round of the 2010 draft. Gibbs spent last season in the Royals’ system (Double-A Northwest Arkansas, Triple-A Omaha).
• According to Daren Willman, Kris Bryant had an average hang time of 5.99 seconds on his home runs last season, the highest in Major League Baseball … Mookie Betts had the lowest for a player with a minimum of 10 home runs, 4.98 seconds.
• ESPN’s David Schoenfield continued his pre-season rankings and he would not be surprised if a couple of these teams made the playoffs in 2016: White Sox, Yankees, Mariners, Rays, Rangers and Diamondbacks.
• Cardinals’ catcher Yadier Molina had the cast removed from his surgically repaired thumb according to a report from Hardball Talk. The Cardinals should know in two to three weeks if Molina will be on pace to start the season on time.
This Day in Cubstory
2014 – Cubs signed free agent Emilio Bonifacio
2012 – The Rays and Joe Maddon agreed to terms on a three-year contract that ran through the 2015 season.
2011 – Cubs traded Tony Thomas to the Red Sox for Robert Coello
2005 – Cubs signed free agent Dave Hansen
1984 – Nate Schierholtz, born
1983 – Cubs purchased Sandy Wihtol from the Indians
1969 – Brian Williams, born
1964 – Second baseman Ken Hubbs was killed in a plane crash near Provo, Utah, while en route to Colton, California. Hubbs was piloting the red and white Cessna and it crashed during a winter storm. Hubbs was the NL Rookie of the Year in 1962 and took flying lessons to help overcome his fear of flying the previous two off-seasons. Hubbs obtained his license the month before the crash. As a 20-year old in 1962, Hubbs batted .260/.299/.346 with 24 doubles, nine triples and five home runs for a .646 OPS.
1962 – Rolando Roomes, born
1948 – Ron Cey, born
1941 – Minneapolis of the American Association purchased Zeke Bonura from the Cubs
1938 – Chuck Estrada, born
1934 – Radio broadcast rights were granted to Chicago, Boston, Detroit and Cincinnati.
1932 – Footer Johnson, born
1869 – Charlie Irwin, born