It's Alive! It's Alive!

Twelve Cubs pitchers threw "live" BP at Fitch Park this morning, as Spring Training entered Phase Two.

Of the twelve, the three most noteworthy outings were the ones by Jeff Samardzija, Ken Kadokura, and Esmailin Caridad. Samardzija couldn't find home plate and almost killed Ryan Theriot with a head-shot, Kadakura shattered a couple of bats with his moving fastball (although he also got hit hard at other times), and Caridad continued to show excellent velocity and movement on his sinker-slider combo, just as he did in the AFL last October-November 

All of the twelve pitchers who threw today were from Group Two (basically the Iowa squad or "second string"), with pitchers from Group One (or "first team") likely to get their first taste of "live" BP tomorrow.  

In addition, Jake Fox once again took grounders at both 1st base and 3rd base (under the watchful eye of Alan Trammell and Ivan DeJesus, who hit dozens of grounders to him at 3B during pre-BP fielding practice), as the Cubs are apparently trying to find out if he has any aptitude for the hot corner. From what I have seen and continue to see, Fox tries hard, but he is probably at heart a 1st baseman and RHPH, or (better still) a platoon DH. He has outstanding power, but is defensively challenged no matter where he plays, although he seems to be most comfortable at 1B. Catcher is definitely a lost cause, and he apprarently is fairly lost in LF and RF, too.

Among the hitters taking swings against "live" pitching today, Derrek Lee and Micah Hoffpauir looked the sharpest, with D-Lee hitting line-drives all over the yard and Hoffpauir hitting one moon shot to the warning track that just missed going out of the park and onto 8th Street.

Each of the pitchers threw 25 pitches, with the position players batting in groups of three or four, and with the catchers alternating between catching the "live" BP, warming up the next pitcher in the bullpen, and taking BP.

All of the pitchers from Group Two threw "live" BP today except Jose Ascanio, Andrew Cashner, Marcos Mateo, David Patton, and Luis Vizcaino (who was a late arrival to camp because of visa problems), although Ascanio and Rich Harden (who is assigned to Group One) did throw a special session with a hitter in the batter's box (who did not swing) in front of Larry Rothschild on the half-field (Field #5) after the conclusion of the "live" BP session, indicating both may have been held back a bit because of arm problems. Also, the Cubs announced that NRI LHP Bill White (ex-TEX)failed his physical and has been released.

All of the position players took "live" BP except Aramis Ramirez, Jake Fox, Paul Bako, Mark Johnson, and Steve Clevenger, although Bako, Johnson and Clevenger did take extra BP with coaches throwing soft toss BP on Field #1 and Field #2 after the other players had finished their "live" BP sessions.  


1. Jeff Samardzija
2. Matt Smith
3. Ken Kadokura
4. Mitch Atkins
5. Justin Berg
6. Vince Perkins

Geovany Soto
Koyie Hill
Paul Bako


Mike Fontenot
Joey Gathright
Geovany Soto
Ryan Theriot
Reed Johnson
Derrek Lee
Aaron Miles
Milton Bradley 
Koyie Hill
Alfonso Soriano


1. J. R. Mathes
2. Edward Campusano
3. Jeff Stevens
4. Esmailin Caridad
5. Rocky Roquet
6. Jason Waddell

Welington Castillo
Steve Clevenger
Mark Johnson


Darwin Barney
Jason Dubois 
Doug Deeds
Bobby Scales
Sam Fuld 
Richie Robnett 
Brad Snyder
So Taguchi
Andres Blanco
Welington Castillo
Micah Hoffpauir 
Luis Rivas

The Group One pitchers will likely throw tomorrow, which means Carlos Zambrano, Ted Lilly, Ryan Dempster, Sean Marshall, Carlos Marmol, Kevin Gregg, Aaron Heilman, Neal Cotts, Chad Gaudin, Angel Guzman, Randy Wells, Kevin Hart, and Chad Fox should be on the schedule, Rich Harden is also with Group One, but since he had a special post-BP throwing session this morning with Rothschild, I doubt that he will throw tomorrow. He's probably on his own schedule right now.

And RHP Brian Schlitter ("A"-ball reliever acquired from the Phillies last August for Scott Eyre) has arrived at camp. He got a very late NRI, and so he is nowhere near ready to throw any "live" BP. He watched the Group One pitchers go through their PFP (Pitchers Fielding Practice) today, but he's a week behind the other pitchers and so I'm not sure why the Cubs invited him at this late date. Schlitter will likely battle Marcos Mateo for the closer job at AA Tennessee.  

RHP Vince Perkins (prepping for the WBC, where he will pitch for Team Canada) also got a last-minute NRI to Fitch Park, but at least the Cubs gave him enough time so that he could report with the other pitchers last Saturday and get into a normal throwing routine. Perkins, a former top prospect with the Blue Jays back when Cubs Scouting Director Tim Wilken was the Jays Scouting Director, is trying to return from a near career-ending torn labrum & knee injury suffered back in 2006. He pitched in independent ball last year, and the Cubs signed him at the end of the 2008 season, probably on the recommendation of Wilken. Perkins is a long-shot to make the Iowa staff, so the WBC could be his last hurrah. 


Hot Damn! It's good to hear from you Phil! Thanks as always for this post. My only regret is that I now have to make it through the Friday afternoon ahead of me with this boner... TMI?

BTW, O-Dawg signs with the Dodgers...

This has likely been covered before-- but what is required of players for these physicals, and how does one fail it?

And THANK YOU, AZ PHIL, for all that you do.

Who would you say as the best chance to get called up during the season to make a start or two, Atkins or Caridad? I really think Shark is best suited for the bullpen. Also is this the year Berg puts it together and becomes a possible MLB reliever? Thanks for the updates Phil!

The four sweetest words in the English language: "Pitchers and Catchers report"

Eat that, "Cellar Door."

Submitted by Romero on Fri, 02/20/2009 - 2:41pm.

This has likely been covered before-- but what is required of players for these physicals, and how does one fail it?


ROMERO: A guy like Bill White (or Mike Smith last year) fail their physicals because some pre-existing condition is detected by the Cubs medical staff that somebody believes will perhaps require surgery or expensive treatment at some point in the future, and the Cubs don't want to be on the hook for it.

The very same condition could be detected in a valued free-agent when he takes his physical, but that player passes, because the Cubs are willing to take a chance on his future physical well-being.

So minor league guys like Bill White usually need to be in perfect physical condition when they report to Fitch Park for their physical, whereas a player like Milton Bradley could be a virtual quadriplegic and still pass his. 

Hey, the right kind of temper tantrum this year and Milton Bradley will be a virtual quadriplegic!

WBC decision tomorrow, looks like he's leaning on dropping out and try to win the closer role.

Submitted by The Stick on Fri, 02/20/2009 - 2:43pm.

Who would you say as the best chance to get called up during the season to make a start or two, Atkins or Caridad?

I really think Shark is best suited for the bullpen.

Also is this the year Berg puts it together and becomes a possible MLB reliever?

Thanks for the updates Phil!


THE STICK: Mitch Atkins is already on the 40-man roster, which gives him an edge if the Cubs are looking for an injury replacement during the season .But Atkins also projects more as a starting pitcher than a reliever (three average pitches with a good idea of how to work a lineup the second time through it), while Caridad has a rubber arm and a slider-sinker combo that would be attractive in a spot starter-long reliever slot and/or a two-inning middle reliever role and/or an everyday set-up guy. Caridad also has the poise and maturity necessary for somebody coming up "cold" into a heated big league pennant race. I'm not sure how Atkins would fare.

Justin Berg is going to have to show at AAA in 2009 that he can be consistent with his control. In my opinion, the Cubs should have added Donald Veal to the 40-man roster last November instead of Berg (presuming they had to choose between the two). Berg is a lot like Jeff Samardzija, in that he has a "live" arm and his best pitch is a mid-90's power-sinker, but he has a lot of trouble throwing it for strikes (even worse than Samardzija). And Berg's secondary stuff is also questionable.

On that subject, what do you think are the chances that the Pirates manage to keep Veal on their 25-man roster and not give him back to the Cubs this season?

10% unless he blows out his arm...

The Pirates kept Evan Meeks on their roster until late may/early June and was more wild and less talented than Veal. I think its a 50/50 shot on him staying on their roster this season.

Submitted by Charlie on Fri, 02/20/2009 - 5:17pm.

On that subject, what do you think are the chances that the Pirates manage to keep Veal on their 25-man roster and not give him back to the Cubs this season?


CHARLIE: I'd say it's about 80% that Donald Veal will make the Pirates Opening Day 25-man roster as their #2 lefty reliever, but then he'll have to produce when given the chance in April and May. Even the Pirates aren't going to waste a spot on their 25-man roster for the entire season on a pitcher with a 9.00 ERA (presuming Veal is a total flop and can't throw strikes and/or is ineffective against big league hitters).

Personally, I think Veal will probably be about as successful with the Pirates in 2009 as LHRP Wesley Wright (also a Rule 5 pick) was with the Houston Astros last year. Veal really should be in AAA in 2009, but I think he can probably be adequate as a big league LOOGY this season if it's a matter of the Pirates having to keep him on their 25-man roster for the entire season or risk losing him back to Cubs.

Thanks, Phil. It looks to me like there is a slight difference of opinion here between you and Rob, which is understandable since it comes down to projection/speculation.

my 10% was for sticking with the team all year, he may have a good spring.

if I were to guess, there's probably no more than 0-3 a year that stick with their team the whole season. If we're talking all 30 teams, that's no higher than 10%, but since not all teams have Rule 5 draftees in camp, i guess the percentage would be higher.

Soriano looking like kid again in camp, telling guys he's going to start stealing lot of bases again.

that worked great for him the last 2 years.

at least he's beyond sick of having this guy lead off when not 100%.

me too...the way our offense and team have struggled the last 2 seasons with his gimpy ass has been painful.

Or not.

you gonna make a trade offer btw for D.  Lee or Bradley? 

im not concerned about the offense on whole as much as seeing an unhealthy leadoff man who can't even do leadoff duties while wasting the best power production on the team on what the 7/8/9 men can set up for him.

there have been way more than just 1 or 2 or 10 or 20 etc. games where soriano shouldn't have been leading off because of his legs...and the wasted power production is a separate issue that i'm not happy with healthy or not.

and as much as i want lee/bradley we're probably not gonna find a suitable trade...if i'm giving up atkins i want both and i didnt have any luck looking other parts.

you can have both for atkins....


I put it into the accepted trades on the yahoo group, just need a confirmation from you.

or to put it another way...

2 years as a cub...

300 hits, 136 extra base hits, 145 RBIs, 38sb...

136 xbase hits (62 homers)...for 145 RBIs...


I like another stat with Soriano. .255 career BA with RISP. That doesn't scream middle of the order threat to me.

Yeah this horse has been beaten to death already.

Stealing bases again? How about you stay healthy and quit the damn hopping first.

on minor league deal...

Not that I expect anything from him this spring but isn't Mike Stanton supposed to be competing for the 2nd lefty bullpen spot? No mention of him from Arizona Phil, was he still under one of those white tents sipping a marguerita?

Az Phil: could you explain what rules govern "sign and trade" deals?

I know of them in the NBA from when Jerry Krause was breaking up the Bulls but don't recall any examples in MLB.

Apparently the Twins are trying to do a sign and trade with Juan Cruz and the DBacks so that they don't lose their 1st round draft pick. The link from the Twins beat writer says if Cruz accepts there is a 48 hour window to complete a deal with the DBacks.

I'd expect the way they evaluate Type 1 free agents will change because of the situation with Juan Cruz. Orlando Hudson's signing with LA costs them a 1st round pick and there was some discussion that many teams didn't want in on Hudson because of the loss of the draft pick plus Hudson's injury history with him coming off of wrist surgery.

honestly, this revaluating the FA compensation system is all just an overreaction because of the recession. Teams are just afraid to spend big money this offseason. It won't be an issue next year because even less teams are going to offer arbitration and players won't make the same mistake of not accepting it.


Players cannot have it both ways. Take a team to court and get what you deem a fair wage.

It's beyond lame to turn down guaranteed arbitration money because you think you deserve more. Then turn around a bitch because nobody else thinks your worth what you think you are.

And the agents that advised these guys should work commission free this year. Scott Boras has cost Jason Varitek about 5 Million dollars this year. Jury still out on what Manny gets.

as far as I know, Cruz would sign with the Dbacks giving him no-trade rights until June 15th. Assuming he would waive that clause to get traded to the Twins. Dbacks would sign him to a contract with a condition that it would be voided if a trade deal wasn't worked out in 48 hours. Twins give up a prospect of considerable less value than a first round pick and I wouldn't be suprised if it's just a ptbnl..

although byrnes in that other link below seems to think they'll get players of similar value to a 1st round and supplemental pick. I guess if they really want Cruz back, they can hold out.

It would be fun if Cruz signs, then refuses the trade.

As noted above, the contract would include a clause waiving his rights to refuse a trade.

Not if the MLBPA has anything to say about it.

here's the link on the sign and trade deal being worked on for JCruz:

Kosuke drives in two with a triple

Good, he proves he can still hit Japanese League pitching. Hopefully it will keep his stock high over in case he sucks this year so we could do one of soccer style transfer type things at year's end that hopefully will free-up some cash in 10 and 11 if Fuku 09 is no better than Fuku 08.

that I don't feel like finding the links for..

Samardzija will start Wednesday's opener..

Marmol still not decided about WBC, but leaning on skipping it

A's interested in Nomah

Manager Lou Piniella said Saturday that he plans on holding Carlos Zambrano back until the second or third week of spring training games.

"There's no reason," Piniella said. "There's just no hurry." Spring training is 30 percent longer this year, so most players are gearing up at a slower pace while maintaining their conditioning. Rich Harden is on the same pace as Zambrano.

"There's no reason," Piniella said. "There's just no hurry."

Are we going to have a pitching staff this season? Z decides to hold back from the WBC to get eye surgery that would hold him back a few weeks...then decides against it.

now he's being held back because well..."there's no reason...hurry."

given how he pitched the last couple months of 08 (esp. his drop in velocity) i'm not exactly thrilled to hear this.

Looks like the Daily Herald has scaled back expenses. Bruce Miles isn't even in Mesa right now.

"I hate leadoff," Theriot said. "I just want to hit third. I think 'D-Lee' should hit leadoff."

"No," Lee said, shaking his head.

"Once I got hitting in the middle of the order, I liked having that pressure on me, so I feel I'm better suited for that," Bradley said.

"Be in the lineup, that's my preference," Soriano said, not picking one spot. "I like to play and be in the lineup. That's more important to me than anything."

Hey, it could happen. There could be lots of injuries in mid-September and the Cubs could be up 25 games on the rest of the division:

LF Joey Gathright
CF Sam Fuld
SS Ryan Theriot
1B Micah Hoffpauir
3B Aaron Miles
RF Brad Snyder
2B Andres Blanco
C Paul Bako
P Marcos Mateo

Sully's quote machine...

Zambrano bypassed the media and stomped out of the clubhouse shouting "beat it" in Spanish.

btw "The Sandberg Game" vs Sutter and StL from 1984 will be on mlb tv today 3pm chicago time

and the Games from Vegas vs WSux, starting a week from Wednesday (3/4/09) will be on WGN-TV

Pitcher Mark Prior was scheduled to throw batting practice yesterday; that he did not was a non-issue to manager Bud Black, who said Prior's comeback from shoulder surgery will be handled gingerly. “We're going on how he feels,” Black said. “Here again, we're being cautious.”

Submitted by Cubster on Sat, 02/21/2009 - 9:42am.

Az Phil: could you explain what rules govern "sign and trade" deals?

I know of them in the NBA from when Jerry Krause was breaking up the Bulls but don't recall any examples in MLB.

Apparently the Twins are trying to do a sign and trade with Juan Cruz and the DBacks so that they don't lose their 1st round draft pick. The link from the Twins beat writer says if Cruz accepts there is a 48 hour window to complete a deal with the DBacks.


CUBSTER: All Article XX MLB free-agents who sign Major League contracts after the conclusion of the 15-day Free-Agency Filing Period that immediately follows the World Sreries get automatic "no trade" rights through June 15th, whether the player is rated "Type "A," Type "B," or unranked, and even if the player re-signs with his previous team. The player can waive the "no trade," but if he does, he can be traded only for player contract(s) or cash with a maximum aggreagate value of $50,000. This means the player can be traded for one or more players on a minor league reserve list (even top prospects make only about $10,000 in annual salary), but it would preclude the player from being traded for most all of the players on a club's 40-man roster, since the MLB minimum salary is $400K and the minimum minor league split salary for most players on optional assignment is $65,000 (the minimum minor league split salary is $32,500 for players who are on a 40-man roster for the first time, however). So Cruz could sign with the D'backs and then get immediately traded to the Twins for one or more minor league players, or at most one player on the 40-man roster, as long as the player is on the 40-man roster for the first time and is making $32,500 as his split salary (but that's only after he has been optioned to the minors).

The supposed 48-hour "window" for the deal to happen is an artifical time period that apparently was decided on by the Twins and D'backs. From the Twins POV, there really would be no point in making the trade if they have to give up a prospect equivalent in talent to a 1st round pick. If that's the case, they should just sign Cruz and give up the 2009 draft pick and use the money they would have spent to sign their 1st rounder on an "unsignable" player taken in a later round (as the Cubs have done in recent years with Jeff Samardzija, Chris Huseby, James Russeel, Jovan Rosa, Cliff Andersen, Drew Rundle, and Nate Samson). So if the deal goes down, I would have to think the player or players going to Arizona would have to be something less than a top prospect.

As I have said before, I advocate changing the free-agent compensation rules so that a club losing a Type "A" free-agent would get an extra pick in the middle of the 1st round instead of receiving a 1st or 2nd round pick from the signing team (that's in addition to the Supplemental pick between the 1st and 2nd round). The way it is now, a club losing a Type "A" FA might get only a 2nd, 3rd, or even a 4th round pick from the signing club as compensation (as is the case this year with the Yankees signing multiple Type "A free-agents). Under my plan, a club losing a Type "A" FA is guaranteed to get a mid-1st round pick as compensation, no matter how many free-agents the signing club may have signed.