Countdown to Pitchers and Catchers: 1 Day
Theo Epstein is the most interesting person in baseball according to Joel Sherman. And, according to Tim Brown, Cubs’ skipper Joe Maddon is one of the 21 most intriguing figures in the game. Brown said Maddon “stands as the representative for all that comes with the Cubs.”
Joe Maddon will have a new leadoff hitter this season with Dexter Fowler close to signing with the Orioles. Fowler is not returning to the Cubs. Maddon could go with Jason Heyward or Kyle Schwarber in the leadoff spot according to Carrie Muskat. Heyward has said in the past he does not like hitting at the top of a lineup. Muskat correctly pointed out that Ben Zobrist would seem to be a good fit batting second based on his career numbers.
The lineup questions will be answered throughout the season. Maddon used 119 different lineups last year. One consistent was batting the pitcher eighth. And Maddon will continue hitting his starting pitcher eighth this season according to Muskat’s report.
Addison Russell batted ninth in 117 games and hit .246/.310/.410 with 24 doubles, a triple and 13 home runs for a .719 OPS.
With a majority of the players already in camp, the reporting days are rather anticlimactic. Pitchers are already throwing bullpens and doing drills (PFPs) while the position players are taking batting practice and working in the field.
Kyle Schwarber announced his presence with authority Wednesday. The slugger launched a home run during batting practice that broke a windshield. (Click here for a photo) The owner, Peter Gesler parked too close to the field beyond the right field wall.
60-Day Disabled List
Jon Paul Morosi, with help from Mike Ferrin, reported Wednesday teams can place players on the 60-day DL beginning Thursday, Feb. 18. This is significant timing for several free agents, especially Dexter Fowler.
Teams will be able to open spots on the 40-man roster without having to designate a player for assignment to sign a free agent. Players on the 60-day disabled list do not count against a team’s 40-man roster.
Morosi is expecting a lot of player movement and free agent signings beginning Thursday.
2016 Draft and International Bonus Pools
Baseball America posted draft and International bonus pools for all 30 teams. As it currently stands, the Cubs will have the least amount to spend on adding talent to the system this year … $4,308,200.
The Cubs International bonus pool for the 2016-17 signing period, which begins on July 2, is $2,063,100. Due to blowing out their bonus pool during the current signing period (2015-16) the Cubs will not be able to sign a player for more than $300,000 for the next two signing periods (2016-17, 2017-18). The Cubs can trade their International slots and sign players, but not for more than $300,000.
After forfeiting their first and second round draft picks to sign John Lackey and Jason Heyward, the Cubs signing pool for the draft is only $2,245,100. That total will increase once Dexter Fowler signs with the Orioles, or another team.
Currently, the Cubs do not have a pick until the third round (Pick No. 104). When Fowler signs the Cubs receive a compensation pick, which will be surrendered for signing Heyward instead of the second round pick. The Cubs will in essence get their second round pick, and slot money, back.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Miguel Montero told the Tribune his left thumb “feels fully healed” from the injury that cost him four weeks on the DL last season.
• Mark Gonzales reported that according to Chris Bosio the Cubs’ good feelings from last season carry over to this year thanks to Joe Maddon.
• According to a report from the Tribune, protecting arms of Cubs starters is a top priority in Spring Training.
• Jesse Rogers answered Cubs questions from Twitter on ESPN Chicago.
• According to Jon Paul Morosi, RHP Yovani Gallardo was moving close to a deal with the Orioles on Wednesday night. The Orioles are expected to sign Gallardo and Dexter Fowler, possibly as soon as Thursday.
• The Rangers are keeping an eye on OF Alejandro De Aza according to Jon Paul Morosi. Texas is monitoring the trade market due to the ongoing injury concerns the team has about Josh Hamilton. Texas is not sure how much Hamilton will play because he is already dealing with inflammation in the capsule behind his surgically repaired left knee. Hamilton said he’s had 15 knee surgeries in his career. Free agents David Murphy and Will Venable are options, and so is Dexter Fowler if he doesn’t sign with the Orioles.
• Matt Murton is one of the non-roster invitees to keep an eye on in the National League this spring according to ESPN.
• The Rays are closing in on a deal with Ryan Webb according to a report from Marc Topkin.
• Arbitration hearings are over, as Jon Heyman said, it’s just time to play ball. The players went 3-1 in arbitration hearings … Jason Castro lost, Jesse Chavez, Drew Smyly and J.J. Hoover won their cases.
• Jung Ho Kang doesn’t think Chris Coghlan was trying to injure him on the take out slide at second base last year according to a report from FOX Sports.
• For those that like to interact with other Cubs fans on Facebook, check out Cubs Win, Cubs Win! The Facebook page is run by Phil Gialluisi, a longtime reader of Chicago Cubs Online, and all around good guy. His page is for Cubs fans who are looking to connect on Facebook with other great Cubs fans. Phil has created a Facebook destination where Cubs fans can share pictures, videos and much more. For Phil it’s all about connecting Cubs fans with other great Cubs fans … click here.
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