Monday, March 3, 2014

Rick Renteria and Cubs earn first win of the Spring; Cubs and 19 players agree to terms on 2014 contracts

Cubs top prospect Javier Baez

The Cubs and new manager Rick Renteria earned their first Cactus League win by beating the Milwaukee Brewers 4-2 today in Maryvale.  Javier Baez hit his first homer of the spring and also had 2 hits.

The Cubs agreed to terms today with 19 players on the 40-man roster with 3 or less years experience including:

Welington Castillo
Arismendy Alcantara
Mike Olt
Christian Villanueva
Logan Watkins

Junior Lake
Brett Jackson
Matt Szczur
Josh Vitters

Jake Arrieta
Dallas Beeler
Zac Rosscup
Chris Rusin
Alberto Cabrera
Justin Grimm
Blake Parker
Neil Ramirez
Hector Rondon
Arodys Vizcaino

Details about the contracts were not yet disclosed by the Cubs.  In other Cubs news, shortstop Starlin Castro will be out for 7-10 days due to a mild strain in his right hamstring.  The injury occurred during Sunday's game when Castro tried to steal second base.  “We’re just being cautious with him,” Renteria said.  “It shouldn’t set him back at all for the regular season.”

Castro's situation will allow the team to give Emilio Bonifacio a chance at shortstop and to also try out second baseman Darwin Barney at shortstop.  Barney played shortstop at Triple-A Iowa when Castro was called up to the Cubs in May 2010.  “Shortstop’s my natural position,” Barney said.  “I feel very comfortable over there.  The past three years at second base, I’ve still taken balls at short almost every day as part of my workout to stretch my arm out.  I don’t look at it as a transition.  I just look at it as moving back over to short, whenever I have to.”

Tomorrow the Cubs will play the Oakland Athletics at Cubs Park at 2:05pm CST.  Right handed pitcher Kyle Hendricks is scheduled to make the start for the Cubs.

29 more days until Opening Day in Pittsburgh and 33 days until the Cubs Home Opener! Go Cubs Go!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Cubs spring training in full swing; 7 players are Top Prospects; Spring Training Broadcast Schedule

Cubs players have been working hard in Mesa at the Cubs' new spring training facility to prepare for the upcoming season.  Below are some photos:

Cubs full squad workout (photo from @CarrieMuskat on Twitter)

1B Anthony Rizzo at Spring Training (photo from Boys of Spring)

Top prospects Javier Baez and Jorge Soler at Spring Training (photo from Boys of Spring)

Top prospect 3B Kris Bryant at Spring Training (photo from Boys of Spring)

3B Mike Olt at Spring Training (photo from Boys of Spring)
In other Cubs news, there are seven Cubs players in Baseball America's annual Top 100 prospects list, including two in the Top 10 and five in the Top 50.  These players are listed below:

  #5 - Javier Baez
  #8 - Kris Bryant
 #28 - C.J. Edwards
 #36 - Albert Almora
 #41 - Jorge Soler
 #87 - Pierce Johnson
#100 - Arismendy Alcantara

The seven Cubs prospects tied for second with the Pittsburgh Pirates.  The Boston Red Sox are in first place, with eight prospects (which makes sense, since it was Theo Epstein's former club).  To compare, the Cubs had just four prospects on last year's list.  We'll take it!

Here is the Cubs' Spring Training broadcast schedule, for those of you who are itching to watch our men in blue:

2014 Cubs Spring Training Broadcast Schedule
Time (CT)
Thursday, February 27
vs. Arizona
2:05 PM
Friday, February 28
@LA Angels
2:05 PM

WGN 720
Saturday, March 1
8:10 PM
Saturday, March 1
vs. San Francisco
2:05 PM
Sunday, March 2
vs. Kansas City
2:05 PM

WGN 720
Monday, March 3
2:05 PM

WGN 720
Tuesday, March 4
vs. Oakland
2:05 PM
Wednesday, March 5
vs. Colorado
2:05 PM
Thursday, March 6
2:05 PM
Friday, March 7
vs. Cleveland
2:05 PM
Saturday, March 8
2:05 PM
Sunday, March 9
vs. Milwaukee
3:05 PM
Monday, March 10
@San Francisco
3:05 PM
Tuesday, March 11
vs. Colorado
3:05 PM
Wednesday, March 12
9:05 PM
Friday, March 14
vs. LA Dodgers
3:05 PM
Saturday, March 15
@Kansas City
3:05 PM

WGN 720
Saturday, March 15
vs. NY Mets
3:05 PM

Sunday, March 16
vs. Cleveland
3:05 PM
Monday, March 17
vs. LA Angels
3:05 PM
Tuesday, March 18
9:05 PM
Wednesday, March 19
8:40 PM
Thursday, March 20
vs. Seattle
3:05 PM
Friday, March 21
@Chi White Sox
3:05 PM
Saturday, March 22
vs. Cincinnati
3:05 PM
WGN 720
Sunday, March 23
3:05 PM
Monday, March 24
vs. San Diego
9:05 PM

WGN 720
Tuesday, March 25
vs. LA Angels
3:05 PM
Wednesday, March 26
3:10 PM
Thursday, March 27
vs. Chi White Sox
2:05 PM

WGN 720
Friday, March 28
8:40 PM
Saturday, March 29
3:10 PM
WGN 720

Just think, there are 38 days until Opening Day in Pittsburgh and 42 days until the Home Opener!  Comment below if you're one of the lucky ones that will be in Mesa to watch a game at Cubs Park.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Cubs players file for arbitration; Cubs Convention; Strike A Chord; Woody's Winter Warm-Up; Clark the Mascot

As the Cubs Convention is just two days away, there has been a lot Cubs coverage in the media this week.  First off, eight Cubs players filed for salary arbitration on Tuesday.  The players and their 2013 salaries and projected 2014 salaries are listed below:

Jeff Samardzija: $2.64 million (2013); $4.9 million (2014 projected)
Darwin Barney: $562,000 (2013); $2.1 million (2014 projected)
Travis Wood: $527,500 (2013); $3.6 million (2014 projected)
Nate Schierholtz: $2.25 million (2013); $4.4 million (2014 projected)
James Russell: $1.075 million (2013); $1.7 million (2014 projected)
Luis Valbuena: $930,000 (2013); $1.5 million (2014 projected)
Pedro Strop: $502,500 (2013); $1 million (2014 projected)
Justin Ruggiano: $494,500 (2013); $1.8 million (2014 projected)

The Cubs and players will discuss salary figures on Friday if an agreement isn't reached before then.  If necessary, arbitration hearings will take place between February 1-21.

This Friday, January 17th kicks off the 29th Annual Cubs Convention which will take place at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, 301 East North Water Street in downtown Chicago.  The Convention continues on Saturday, January 18th and will wrap up on Sunday.  Opening Ceremonies will start at 6pm and will include introductions of all current and past players down a red-carpet runway. 

Confirmed players, coaches and executives attending the convention include:

Major League Players:
Jake Arrieta RHP
Darwin Barney INF
Welington Castillo C
Starlin Castro INF
Kyuji Fujikawa RHP
Justin Grimm RHP
Edwin Jackson RHP
George Kottaras C
Junior Lake OF
Donnie Murphy INF
Blake Parker RHP
Brooks Raley LHP
Anthony Rizzo INF
Hector Rondon RHP
Justin Ruggiano OF
Chris Rusin LHP
James Russell LHP
Jeff Samardzija RHP
Nate Schierholtz OF
Pedro Strop RHP
Ryan Sweeney OF
Luis Valbuena INF
Carlos Villanueva  RHP
Jose Veras RHP
Travis Wood LHP
Wesley Wright LHP
Minor League Players:
Arismendy Alcantara INF
Albert Almora, OF
Javier Baez INF
Kris Bryant INF
C.J. Edwards RHP
Kyle Hendricks RHP
Pierce Johnson RHP
Eric Jokisch LHP
Mike Olt INF
Neil Ramirez RHP
Armando Rivero RHP
Rubi Silva OF
Jorge Soler OF
Christian Villanueva INF
Arodys Vizcaino RHP
Cubs Alumni:
Ernie Banks INF
Glenn Beckert INF
Jim Bullinger P
Bobby Dernier OF
Scott Eyre P
Randy Hundley C
Fergie Jenkins P
Jay Johnstone OF
Les Lancaster P
Derrek Lee 1B
Ted Lilly P
Bill Madlock INF
Gary Matthews OF
Dave Otto P, Broadcaster
Milt Pappas P
Mark Prior P
Mike Remlinger P
Scott Sanderson P
Dwight Smith OF
Lee Smith P
Tim Stoddard P
                                        Rick Sutcliffe P
                                        Steve Trout P
                                        Billy Williams OF
                                        Kerry Wood P


Coaching Staff:
Rick Renteria, Manager
Mike Borzello, Catching Coach
Chris Bosio, Pitching Coach
Mike Brumley, Assistant Hitting Coach
Jose Castro, Quality Assurance Coach
Eric Hinske, First Base Coach
Brandon Hyde, Bench Coach
Gary Jones, Third Base Coach
Bill Mueller, Hitting Coach
Lester Strode, Bench Coach
 Team Executives/Broadcasters:
Tom Ricketts, Chairman
Laura Ricketts, Board Member
Pete Ricketts, Board Member
Todd Ricketts, Board Member
Theo Epstein, President, Baseball Operations
Crane Kenney, President, Business Operations
Jed Hoyer, EVP/GM
Jason McLeod, SVP, Scouting & Player Development
Randy Bush, Assistant GM
Shiraz Rehman, Assistant to the GM
Pat Hughes, Radio Broadcaster
 Ron Coomer, Radio Broadcaster
                                                         Len Kasper, TV Broadcaster
                                                         Jim Deshaies, TV Broadcaster

I always look forward to the Cubs Convention (tweet with #CubsCon) and will share my experiences on this blog throughout the weekend.  You can also follow me at @kcburchell on Twitter.

There are also two Cubs events this Thursday and Friday, which are scheduled around the Convention.  First, former Cubs outfielder David DeJesus and his wife Kim are hosting "Strike A Chord" along with Cubs Charities and the David DeJesus Family Foundation on Thursday at 6:30pm at American Junkie, 15 W. Illinois Street.  Cubs players will sing karaoke to help raise money to benefit ALS research and support.  Heavy appetizers will be provided by American Junkie, Chicago q, GT Fish and Oyster, Siena Tavern and Wow Bao.  Tickets are $125 in advance or $150 at the door and will also include an open bar, live auction and raffle.  For more information or to purchase tickets:

The Wood Family Foundation (WFF) (Former Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood and his wife Sarah's foundation) will host the third annual "Woody's Winter Warm-Up" event on Friday night at 8pm at Harry Caray's Tavern, Navy Pier.  The event will emceed by radio personality Pete McMurray and television host Catie Keogh and will showcase Chicago Cubs past and present, celebrities and media personalities as 'guest-bartenders' mixing drinks and competing for tips to raise money for WFF.  The night will also feature meet-and-greet opportunities with players, a silent auction, premium open bar, dinner buffet, raffle and DJ.  Robert Randolph is the headliner of this year's event.  Tickets are $150 in advance or $175 at the door.  For more information or to purchase tickets, go to this link.

Ernie Banks and Kerry Wood at "Woody's Winter Warm-Up" in 2013
In other Cubs news, the team introduced their first mascot in history, Clark the Cub on Monday.  Fans seem to have mixed feelings about Clark as a large amount of fans expressed negative feelings on Twitter and Facebook towards the new mascot, but others think the mascot is a good idea for entertaining kids.

Cubs prospects helped to introduce Clark at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago on Monday when they helped to reinforce positive activities being taught to children with autism and other developmental challenges.  The players did jumping jacks and stretches with the children, answered questions about their favorite ice cream flavor and colors and competed in friendly games of "Connect 4."  Kris Bryant, the Cubs' No. 1 Draft pick was on hand, as well as Albert Almora, Jorge Soler, Mike Olt and Eric Jokisch.

Cubs prospects Kris Bryant, Armando Rivero and Arodys Vizcaino and Clark visit with kids at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center
The Cubs organization says that Clark will help to welcome fans to his own clubhouse at Wrigley Field, where families can visit.  Fans also will be able to interact with Clark on Twitter and Facebook.  At first, I wasn't so sure about a Cubs mascot, but as I've had time to think about it, I like the idea of having Clark to interact with kids at events both at and away from Wrigley Field.  It's hard to break tradition of not having a team mascot, but Clark seems harmless enough.  I just wish he would wear some pants!

Lastly, the Cubs have signed 28-year old Chris Coghlan, who was the 2009 National League Rookie of the Year, to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training. The left-handed hitting outfielder/third baseman will earn $800,000 if he makes the Major League roster and can earn another $250,000 in incentives.

I hope to see some of you at the Cubs Convention this weekend and stay tuned to Cubby News for Convention updates throughout the weekend.  Go Cubs Go!