February 2012

Let the Games Begin, Intrasquad Games

The Cubs don’t want to wait until March 4th, and their first Spring Training game against the Athletics, so they are starting early.  To finish off this week the Cubs will battle eachother in a set of intrasquad games.  The games will take place on Friday and Saturday leading up to Sunday’s spring training opener.  The intrasquad games with be open to the public (grandstand seating only) and will be free of charge.  After 12 days of drills, workouts, and bunt tournaments, I’m sure the players and coaches are just itching to get started, and see what they have in real game situations.

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Cubs and Garza Talk Extension

It looked like the Cubs would try to trade Matt Garza this offseason, but now it appears the Cubs are going to start contract extension talks with him.  This whole winter we heard Garza would give the Cubs the best opportunity to replenish the system.  On the other hand the Cubs also expressed interest in keeping Garza long term and it now appears that may be the route they are headed.

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Cubs Set Early Spring Rotation

  With games rapidly approaching, Dale Sveum and his coaching staff have set the first three spots in the rotation to open up the Spring

Garza Getting Some Work In

schedule this weekend.  Rodrigo Lopez will get things started, he will be followed by Ryan Dempster, and Matt Garza.  Dale Sveum was quick to caution fans trying to read too much into Dempster being ahead of Garza, saying that they will determine the rotation to start the season sometime in the middle of spring training.  Lopez gets the first crack to prove he belongs at the back end of the Cubs rotation.  Other competitors for the four/five spots in the rotation per Sveum are Randy Wells, Travis Wood, and Chris Volstad.  It looks more and more like it will be something along the lines of Garza, Dempster and Maholm to head the rotation, but anything can and usually does happen in the Spring.

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Batting 4th, 1st Baseman, Bryan LaHair

Yes Cubs fans, you read that correctly, and it’s not up for discussion according to Cubs skipper Dale Sveum, “It’s Bryan LaHair’s job, and it’s not his to lose. It’s his job and the guy has earned the right to have it and he’s earned the right for me to have a lot of patience too if he’s not getting off to a good start.”  As Dale Sveum begins to dive into his first camp as the Cubs manager, he is starting to piece together what the opening day lineup will look like.  Much to the surprise of many, the first decision that was made was that of Brian LaHair not only starting at first base, but hitting 4th, arguably the spot in the lineup for a teams biggest run producer.  Cubs fans got a taste of LaHair at the end of last season, and one could say that LaHair’s performance was one of the few bright spots in a very dark season.  In 59 at bats last season LaHair hit a respectable, if not solid .288 with a .377 on base percentage.  That type of on base  percentage was unheard of for a Cubs player last year given the complete lack of discipline and patience at the plate from the team as a whole, in fact LaHair’s OBP led the team, not counting Steve Clevenger who only had 4 at bats.

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Castro Speaks

“You’ve got to be careful because there are a lot of bad people in the world.”  This coming from Castro today, marking the first day he has spoken to the media about the alleged sexual assault case.  He would not say much more about the claim except that he has cooperated with the police, which he talked to when he was in town for the Cubs Convention in mid January. (more…)

Who Is Matt Szczur?

Another Top 100 Prospect list came out this week, this one from Baseball America.  Brett Jackson, Anthony Rizzo, and Javier Baez once again show up on the list, as they have done with the previous lists as well.  Jackson ranked 32, Rizzo at 47, and Baez came in at 61.  According to Baseball America the Cubs have a fourth in the top 100.  Matt Szczur not only made the list, but made it easily as he came in at 64.  It seems like a lot of publications either love him and are very high on him, or they don’t like him much and are much lower on his potential.

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Hoyer and Carpenter Weigh in on Compensation

The story is now a couple hours old, so the media has had the opportunity to speak with Carpenter and Hoyer.  Bud Selig also issued a statement.  Contrary to some of the stories out there the compensation deal was finalized by the two teams, not Bud Selig.  I’ve included a number of quotes from Carpenter this morning, as well as Hoyer.  Both parties were very complimentary of one another.

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Theo Compensation Done, Carpenter Headed to Boston

  After four months, the Cubs and Red Sox have finalized the deal that brought Theo Epstein to Chicago.  Headed to Boston is relief pitcher Chris Carpenter, who impressed in his short time up with the Cubs at the end of last year.  Carpenter, who is 26 years old, will be given a shot in the Red Sox bullpen, where I expect him to have some decent success.  The deal also says that the Red Sox will receive a player to be named later, and the Cubs will receive a player to be named later (April 15th deadline already in place).  I don’t anticipate either of the  players being anything more than fringe prospects.  All parties have been assured that these players will be named before the conlcusion of Spring Training.  Theo Epstein released a statement this morning regarding Carpenter going the other way, in a word, he is relieved.

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Theo Compensation About to be Announced?

Based on all the chatter this morning it sounds like the Theo Epstein compensation ordeal will be resolved today.  Trey McNutt has been a popular target in the last 24 hours given the comments he made about having a talk with Epstein about the possibility of going to Boston.  It sounds like that has been since ruled out.. 

(Via MLB Trade Rumors)

The Red Sox will receive a pitcher from the Cubs’ 40-man roster, tweets WEEI’s Alex Speier.  That’d rule out McNutt.  Rafael Dolis, Chris Carpenter, Jeff Beliveau, and Casey Weathers are on the Cubs’ 40-man and cracked Baseball America’s top 30 prospects for the team.

If I were a betting man, I think Chris Carpenter is as good as gone, but that remains to be seen.  I think Cubs nation should breathe a sigh of relief that it will not be McNutt going the other way.  Stay tuned to the blog, we will report on this story as soon as it breaks.

Thanks for reading,

George Cotugno

Media Monday: Spring Training Begins

Throughout the season we will have features that we run each day of the week, one of them will be Media Monday.  We hope to bring you all the best pictures, audio, and video (where allowed by MLB) from the past week.  Obviously everyone is very excited about Spring training getting underway, please enjoy the content below.

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