Cubs Convention Round-Up

- Geovany Soto says he's lost 40 pounds and looks the part from the shoulders up at least (video as well).

"It's weird, I feel like a 12-year-old," he said. "I have a lot of energy. I'm kind of wired all day. I've got a little one now, and it's helped me at home. I give mama some rest. I'm active the whole day. I used to be a little sluggish -- like 'I want to take a nap.' Now I feel great and I just want to put myself in the best position to help the club.

- More on the Cubs committment to getting in shape over the offseason including the Cubs hiring a personal chef and nutritionist for the team.

-  Marlon Byrd says Hendry tried to acquire him for 2008 (video).

- Ted Lilly discusses shoulder rehab (video).

- Milton Bradley is being sued for not paying $44,000 on the condo he rented in Chicago that he abandoned in the fall. Classy.

- Hendry says the big-money players need to play like up to their capabilities for 2010 to succeed.

"We have to have our best players play like they're our best players, and that's something they didn't do that last year,'' Hendry said in a quiet moment amid the insanity of the Cubs Convention. "We had five guys have terrible years all in the same year at the same time, and you don't figure that to happen, but it sure happened to us.''

- Our pal Tim at Cubby-Blue will be on the panel at the Vine-Line session today so stop by and say hi if you're going.

If any of our wonderful readers is at the event and cares to post their personal thoughts on the convention, particularly if you go to the Q&A's with Hendry, Lou or the Ricketts, we would love to hear about it.

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Comments

I find it astounding that we didn't have a team nutritionist before now

"Let's compare Brandon Lyon to Marlon Byrd"

yeah, let's.

Geo lost his accent also. Must have been a North American diet.

Puerto Rico is in North America, I believe.

Now if I can only discover a way to suck the fat out of Alfonso's head.

The phrasing you chose for that sentence was unfortunately and disturbingly suggestive.

I'm still laughing.

Hendry-

"We had five guys have terrible years...."

Z
Soriano
Soto
Bradley

Fontenot or Gregg?

Or am I missing somebody?

Z
Soriano
Soto
Bradley
HENDRY

There's five.

"We had five guys have terrible years...."
---
I think #5 is Aaron Miles. (But I like navigator's nomination of Hendry)

Ramirez?

I'd nominate Zambrano for #5, with Gregg a close second.

It's a good thing that Ted Lilly gets paid to play baseball and not to interview. Then you see ole Bruce Levine, looking like the late great George Carlin coming off a bender.

Lou: Byrd will hit fifth

http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/news/st...

So it begins ...

yeah, first you hit your best power hitter 1st then you hit him 6th.

bravo.

-edit- meh...i guess there's a case for soriano not being the power hitter he once was, but byrd over soriano seems f'n stupid if you want decide who should hit 5th vs. 6th. i'm not trying to advocate soriano hitting 3rd/4th or anything...dlee/aram both have good doubles/HR power with the advantage of ob%.

Well, Byrd can join Milton Bradley as one of the weakest #5 hitters in baseball for next year. Amazing how the Cubs for two years straight have sought out the shittiest #5 hitters who might might crack 50 RBI when not playing in Texas with a loaded lineup.

Milton and now Byrd....worst fucking middle of the order threats you can imagine. And we signed both of them. Fuck me.

http://www.chicagobreakingsports.com/2010/01/...

...the possibility of getting rid of the "L" flag on the centerfield scoreboard after losses

really?

New nutritionist wants positive reinforcement only.

"Losing is a disease, as contagious as syphilis."

You know what? The "L" flag would just languish, unused, in the storage room anyway. WE WILL NOT NEED IT THIS YEAR.

173-0.

I don't think anybody wants losing to be THAT contagious. Trust me.

did ben sheets throw today or what?

-edit- tuesday.

I suspect that the fifth person that had a terrible year was Ramariz. He was good while he was in there, but played in only about half the games, and drove in only 65 runs for the year. Good per-game production, but terrible full year production.

Well...I don't think you can call out a player for having a terrible season because they dislocated a shoulder...it's not like he missed time, and then hit .245/.321/.415.

He didn't call anyone out. He just mentioned facts. That they had terrible years.

Ok. Ramirez year was not terrible, is was shortened by an injury.

http://www.chicagobreakingsports.com/2010/01/...

Theriot, Fuku, Lee, Ramirez, Byrd, Soriano, Baker, Soto

Correct lineup:

Theriot, Fuku, Lee, Ramirez, Soto, Soriano, Byrd, Fontenaught.

I'd rather have Soriano bat leadoff over Theriot...well not last year's Soriano.

I'm sure that Lou and Hendry are both going to pretend that we're most likely to get the 2008 .380+ OBP Theriot, just like they'll pretend we're more likely to get a 2008 Soto than a 2009 Soto and that we're most likely to get the best of all possible Sorianos, Lees, Ramirezes, etc.

Well, maximizing Theriot's at bats may seem like a bad idea:

1. You have to bat him somewhere, I guess.

2. It minimizes his at bats with a guy on first base, which is a good thing.

Not to mention the rudy factor...

Len rocks out..."I fought the Law"

http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/len-and-bob/2...

Squirrels? Not like this was news. I wrote about this back on September 13th, in a TCR post called Wrigley Field: Back to the Future,

...:from the SunTimes link Rob posted:

Anybody have problems with their AT&T cell-phone service at the ballpark last summer? ''Believe it or not, the answer is squirrels,'' said Cubs exec Carl Rice, who said squirrels chewed up three wireless sites on the stadium roof -- devices now being repaired.

-------------
http://thecubreporter.com/2009/09/13/wrigley-...

This isn't directly a Cubs issue but I learned that AT&T has a cell tower on the roof down the left field line (just behind the light tower). Their cabling is antiquated but will be upgraded this off season. Apparently a squirrel ate thru their cabling and it took an absurd amount of time to find this out as well as to repair the damage (not kidding). Their 3G data network works only for the first 75 phones then everyone trying to access the network above that gets bumped. Supposedly this problem will get addressed in the off-season as AT&T has targeted Chicago as one of the cities to receive major upgrades.

One of many reasons I jailbroke my iPhone and am a happy T-Mobile subscriber. Screw AT&T.

Coming soon to food vendors: squirrel on a stick and a beer for $10!

Would be an improvement over the current food options at Wrigley.

lol!

Well, the seasoned fries aren't bad. And the grilled Hebrew National dogs with grilled onions are pretty addictive.

And, the Upper Deck patio at least have palatable beefs and sausage.

But, that is all regretably.

You forgot the Bison hot dogs. Saw it in the convention photos...

Dave van Dyke reports on "Project Wrigley 20-14" and includes an artist drawing of the Triangle building from 2005, from the Trib:

No Friday night games and no Jumbotron screen will be added soon, if ever, and the Cubs don't envision going to personal seat licenses for ticket-holders.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball...

I'm glad this guy's too old to go into politics. He'd be perfect.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/columns/story?i...

Too old? Isn't there a US Senate anymore?

Asked about raising ticket prices in a bad economy, Ricketts talked about the ''tension'' between keeping prices down and keeping payroll growing enough to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox for players. He also said there aren't any plans right now for increases in the next few years.

Part of the problem is that the Cubs are not competing with the Yankees and Red Sox for players. The Yankees and Red Sox are using their payroll to add some of the top players in baseball. The Cubs too often feed off the leftovers.

At the moment, the Cubs are using the third highest payroll in baseball to build a mediocre team. A few years ago, they changed their mindset regarding payroll. Now they need to change their mindset about what they can/should do with that payroll.

tragic.

http://twitter.com/Adam_Schefter/status/78709...

I wonder why that stuff doesn't get picked up on medical screening. Given the technology available and the salary's that players receive. Even if his condition was asymptotic it seems that this can be prevented with a one time EKG and Echocardiogram. Those are painless and non-invasive tests. The expense of that testing for pro athletes is unlikely to be an issue.

Not to be too crass here, but do the Bears get their 2nd round pick back now or a substitute pick?

I'm fairly certain they do not.

"Ok. Ramirez year was not terrible, is was shortened by an injury."

If a regular starts less than half the games in a season, it is a terrible season.

There is no FAULT involved. Just facts. If they get the same production from Ramirez, it will be another terrible season.

As far as "pretending" that Theriot etc. will recover, that isn't the point. If you assume that they will NOT return to more normal production, there isn't a thing you can do about it. You cant fire/trade/replace them all, so the only thing you can do is assume that most will recover and go from there.

What about the Pitching staff? From Wittenmeyer's Suntimes article:

http://www.suntimes.com/sports/baseball/cubs/...

• The pitching staff (not counting Lilly) already seems to have 11 of 12 spots accounted for, with Carlos Zambrano, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Carlos Silva, Tom Gorzelanny, Sean Marshall, Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Marmol, Angel Guzman, John Grabow and the TBA new guy -- leaving the last spot for a young guy such as lefty John Gaub, righty Esmailin Caridad, newly acquired righty Jeff Gray or Rule 5 righty Mike Parisi.

Random Thoughts on the pitching: I wonder if Angel Guzman (or Sean Marshall) is really trade bait? It does seem like there is enough inventory for a trade to upgrade something, maybe the bench (or Fukudome's platoon partner). God knows the bench looks weak as far as offense goes (although I like Baker on the bench but then we need a starting 2B for that to occur and it doesn't look like that in on Hendry's agenda).

...and a bench of catcher Koyie Hill, infielder Andres Blanco, second baseman Jeff Baker (or Mike Fontenot, depending on who wins the starting job), outfielder Sam Fuld and the new mystery fourth outfielder.

I think Samardzija should continue to start with Sandberg at Iowa so that if he gets called up it's because he's earned a spot based on performance as a starter. I hope they make room for Esmalin Caridad on the staff but even if not I'd expect him up early in the season if he pitches at all like he did last season. Gray and Parisi's chances to make the staff are a mix of available roster spots and Arizona performance and maybe an" inventory" trade. Gaub too, although being a bullpen lefty might be a factor. I wonder who goes when Lilly gets activated? I doubt they will release Silva but if he really sucks, maybe he can find his way to the 60 day DL. Then there are always the surprise rookie in camp thang...Dolis, Parker, Patton or Stevens, but Lou has to "fall in love" with one of them and I can live with a later call up based on performance in the minors.

don't think Ninja is such a lock to be on the 25-man...

say there's 9 spots right now with Lilly on the DL, leaving 2-3 spots open and 1 could be taken when Hendry signs his vet arm...

poor Micah Hoffpauir....

CCO does say Piniella mentioned Hoffpauir (or Colvin) as having a role on the bench, so it might just be a Wittenmeyer Freudian slip.

Toward the end Piniella said he thinks Hendry will sign another outfielder before long to add to the mix with Sam Fuld, Tyler Colvin and Micah Hoffpauir.

http://chicagocubsonline.com/archives/2010/01...

---
also from CCO, a summary of the Business Management presentation with the fans (Kenney, McGuire, Lufrano, Rice, Hayward (I like the part that there may be an internet alterative to 3G at the ballpark as I brought that up in the meeting I attended back in Sept):

The Cubs will announce their decision in the next few days on Florida or Arizona.

The Cubs are looking at partners to add WiFi technology to Wrigley Field to help provide real time info to the fans in attendance.

we're gonna carry colvin?

yeesh...why?

I'm sure Sandberg will be happy to manage Colvin again.

that's what i was hoping.

the guy isn't the next coming of jesus or anything, but him struggling for 150-200ab's doesn't sound like a good use of him for 09 even if his destiny is bench...especially with fuld already around covering lefty CF.

Jesus?

Is he coming?

HE is NOT Tyler Colvin?

given the amount of hispanics in baseball im sure we got a jesus down there somewhere.

he's coming to coach first base

if they get another OF, there's only one bench spot left for Fuld, Colvin or Hoff and Lou has said that he thinks Fuld will get the spot...I assume based on his ability to actually play CF.

starters: Theriot, Fukudome, Lee, Ramirez, Byrd, Soriano, Baker, Soto

bench: Hill, Fontenot, Blanco (need a back-up SS), 4th OF they sign, one of Fuld, Hoffpauir, Colvin, mystery man

Rotation: Z. Dempster, Wells, Gorzelanny (lilly on the DL)

Pen: Marshall (5th spot if needed or bullpen), Silva, Marmol, Grabow, Guzman, new vet RH arm

2 spots for Caridad, Samardzija, Berg, Gaub, Atkins, Gray, Parisi, etc...and just one when Lilly comes back.

It could be at the start of the season we go with a a 11 man bullpen? It could also be that they don't have Blanco, being that Fountainout, in theory can pitch in at short for long enough to bring Blanco or Barney up from Iowa in case Theriot is injured.

I don't think Lou has any intention of playing Fontenot at SS unless it is a true emergency situation. He gave him all of 1 inning back in 2008 and the guy hasn't seen the position since. Blanco (or someone like Blanco) has to make the roster unless Lou is counting on Theriot to play every inning of every game (that he isn't officially on the disabled list) at SS.

forgot about Barney or of course the possibility of Castro, but think Lou would want the flexibility to pinch-hit for Theriot. And if Theriot has a non-DL injury that can put you into a bind.

They could actually live without a reserve OF that could play CF since Fukudome can play there and Hoffpauir/Dye or Nady bench bats would be some neat power options.

Question; Does Samardzija get $2.5M for 2010 with no split whether he's with the Cubs or Iowa?

yes, he gets it no matter what...

Good Heavens, Cubster! Trade Sean Marshall, a lefty who has shown he can K anybody (left or right) when he hits his spots? (a speciality of one Greg Maddux, BTW). Not a good idea, IMO.

Good Heavens, Cubster!
---
actually I haven't heard Sean Marshall in any trade rumors.

Angel Guzman's name has come up in the past few weeks (in the context of Colorado and Spilborghs).

Marshall certainly has been valuable in the dual role of spot starting/bullpen and if Silva is as bad as we expect, the issue is who will be that swingman in the pen. I think Gorzelanny is better as a starter but once Lilly comes back, I see redundancy between Marshall and Gorz. I think Marshall has more trade potential of those two but it's nice to have the extra inventory in young pitchers with significant mlb experience. So unless the trade is really an important upgrade I'd rather keep both.

and I'm sure one of the happiest pitchers to see Maddux being brought back was Sean Marshall. I recall Marshall sitting next to Maddux absorbing info like a sponge.

If we are trading with Colorado, I hope Eric Young Jr is somehow involved. Fix the 2nd base and leadoff issues with one simple deal.

Sullivan sums up the convention...including Piniella sending Dempster on a squirrel killing mission:

http://www.chicagobreakingsports.com/2010/01/...

Carl Rice, the team's senior director of facility management and information technology, explained why fans with iPhones couldn't get a signal last summer at Wrigley Field.

"Believe it or not, the answer is squirrels," said Rice, who explained that three squirrels ate through the wires providing AT&T wireless access. The issue has since been addressed, Rice said. No word if any of the squirrels were the same one that invaded the Cubs' dugout last Sept.11, when manager Lou Piniella ordered Ryan Dempster to "do his job" and chase it out. Dempster chased the squirrel with a towel, and it went into the Reds' dugout. Piniella said that day that "thing have been squirrely a few times" in the 2009 season. Little did he know.

Dempster chased the squirrel with a towel...
---
Wins the award for Best application of the towel drill, EVER.

Dr. Hecht -- Ben Sheets is scheduled to throw for interested teams (including the Cubs) on Tuesday. He's coming back from surgery to repair a torn flexor muscle that caused him to miss the entire 2009 season.

Can you give us some idea of how pitchers normally come back from such injuries? Is it normal to miss an entire season like Sheets did? There was talk last year about Sheets signing with a team mid-season, but he wasn't ready. Do you have any idea if that was a set back or was the talk of him coming back mid-season just wishful thinking.

Thanks!

Sweet Lou:

The injury Ben Sheets had was a torn flexor which is on the inside (medial) aspect of the elbow and is fairly close to the anatomy of the more famous ulnar collateral ligament (UCL, as in Tommy John surgery). TJ reconstructions have become common and quite successful.

UCL anatomy (picture)...
http://g6mrig6mri.files.wordpress.com/2006/02...

The medial flexor tear that is treated with surgery is less common although less extensive strains of the flexor muscle (not the fibrous attachment to the elbow) are common and most of the time just need rest to recover (several weeks). The fibrous attachment of the flexor when it tears is also something that can heal with rest (and optional anti-inflammatory rx or cortisone injections) but when symptoms become more chronic or more severe in a more extensive tear, surgery becomes an option. MRI's are helpful to sort out the extent of damage and also to show that it isn't an UCL injury.

Medial flexor anatomy (picture)...
http://i35.tinypic.com/29bdnol.jpg

There are similarities to what is called Tennis Elbow on the lateral/outside of the elbow and there are surgical options for that condition when it becomes chronic. Pitchers are more likely to get medial symptoms because the wrist flexor tendons are key in putting the spin on almost any pitch.

In a brief search, I found two major league pitchers other than Ben Sheets with torn flexor elbow surgery. So I don't have alot to work with regarding time frames for recovery but there is probably a spectrum that the extent of injury represents making timetables tough to sort out. It probably doesn't help to extrapolate recovery times regarding this surgery for any other type of patient/athlete other than pitchers here.

In 2004, Andy Petitte (then with the Astros) had his season cut short (15 games) to have the flexor tear repair surgery and he returned in 2005 with 222 IP, 2.39 ERA, 1.03 WHIP...and a World Series appearance (6 IP, 2 runs). So I'd say the surgery was a great success since he's still pitching on a pretty high level thru last season.

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/news/story?id=1...
---

In August 2008, Jason Isringhausen has his season end 42 IP into the year. He tried a comeback after surgery (in 2009 with Tampa) but only made it into 8 IP in 2008 before tearing his UCL and having a 2nd surgery on the elbow. I suspect he's retiring or changing his name to Chad Fox-Isringhausen.

http://ballhype.com/story/latest_injury_may_e...

Maybe Izzy is the mystery righty setup reliever Hendry's looking at. He would be a valuable pinch hitter (career .202 .241 .317 .558) and would look good along side Carlos Silva on the 60 day DL. Could he be the 2010 winner of the Chad Fox Duct Tape award?

Here is the link to when Sheets started having his elbow problems...it was a start against the Cubs when he got pulled early in the game. It also covers his almost signing with Texas until it was determined he was going to have surgery on the problem.

http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090...

Sheets might recovery but with his history of other injuries, the risk of another body part breaking down or recurring elbow problems like Izzy with the UCL make it a pretty high risk unless it's low upfront salary and alot of innings based incentives. I'm sure everyone watching him pitch on tuesday understands that.

Tim Kurkjian on the New Ben Sheets (and a chronicle of the old one):

http://sports.espn.go.com/mlb/hotstove09/colu...

In Sheets' fourth-to-last start of the 2008 season as a member of the Brewers, he threw a 1-0 shutout against the Padres on Sept. 6, but his elbow hurt so badly that he needed a cortisone shot after the game. He pitched mostly without pain in his next start against the Phillies, but three batters into his following start, Sheets said he felt "a tug, a yank in my elbow. That's not good." He faced a few more batters, then had to leave the game. He missed his next start, then made one more start -- but it lasted only two innings because "my elbow was killing me."

Thanks, Doc! While I have your attention, I have this pain in my shoulder...;-)

15 pictures of the convention from Len and Bob's Blog.

http://www.chicagonow.com/blogs/len-and-bob/2...

Ernie's been eating a few too many hot dogs. Of course, he's entitled.

Jeff Blair at the Globe and Mail (Canada)today...

The Blue Jays will have a scout at tomorrow's workout by free-agent pitcher Ben Sheets, but he's all but signed by the Chicago Cubs.

Really?

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/jays-gm...

that's really fucking mean if that's not true....

i have an authentic wrigley field 'L' flag; genuine article that flew atop the scoreboard...what am i bid?

two bits

if i lose the auction, will you send me the flag??

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