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Pitchers & catchers and a number of position players have reported to Cubs Spring Training Camp at Fitch Park in Mesa.


So far the pitchers are just throwing bullpen sessions (each pitcher usually throws off a mound every-other day) and participating in PFP drills (Pitchers Fielding Practice), while the position players who have reported are taking batting pratice (with coaches throwing soft-toss BP) and taking infield practice or tracking fly balls in the outfield.


The pitchers will start throwing "live" BP to the hitters next week.


Among the position players who hit today, Geovany Soto put on the best power display, crushing a number of dingers onto Center Street. And NRI 3B Josh Vitters (Cubs 2007 #1 draft pick) also had an impressive BP session, mashing balls all over the place. Vitters will likely begin the 2011 season back at AA Tennessee.


INF Darwin Barney added some muscle to his frame during the off-season, and looks like he could perhaps provide a bit more power than he has displayed so far in his pro career.


Fernando Perez (acquired from Tampa Bay in the Matt Garza deal) is back to switch-hitting again (at least he was today), after batting exclusively right-handed last year while recovering from a broken left wrist suffered in Spring Training 2009. The speedy 27-year old Perez hit a paltry 223/280/299 at AAA Durham in 2010 (career 234/301/351 in 41 MLB games 2008-09), but he is a good defensive outfielder with a plus-arm, and he can play all three OF positions. He will be battling Reed Johnson, Lou Montanez, Brad Snyder, and Jim Adduci for a back-up OF spot. And Perez does have one minor league option left, in case he fails to win a big league job in Spring Training.


BP GROUP 1:
Darwin Barney
Tyler Colvin
Blake DeWitt
Reed Johnson
Bryan Lahair
Josh Vitters


BP GROUP 2:
Jim Adduci
Brett Jackson
Augie Ojeda
Fernando Perez
Marquez Smith
Brad Snyder


BP GROUP 3:
Steve Clevenger
Ryan Dempster
Koyie Hill
Chris Robinson
Geovany Soto

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Comments

Phil, I noticed a picture of Barney looking Nomaresque from some other blog linked in two articles below - did you notice him hitting the ball any farther?

Submitted by The Real Neal on Tue, 02/15/2011 - 2:15pm.
Phil, I noticed a picture of Barney looking Nomaresque from some other blog linked in two articles below - did you notice him hitting the ball any farther?

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REAL NEAL: I didn't notice any particular improvement in Darwin Barney's power stroke in today's BP session. He just looks more muscular, and hopefully that will translate into more power.

Josh Vitters looked especially strong today, but he has a lot of natural power anyway. Although his bat should be good enough to get him to the big leagues, he still has to spend more time focusing on his defense. Hopefully he'll finally realize that this year. He did start to show some improvement at 3B in the AFL last fall.

Cool thanks. Let's hope Barney's improvement shows against real pitching. It's not like he has Joe Morgan and Billy Doran blocking him at second.

Now spring training is officially under way. We are getting our first report from Az. Phil!

Poor kid now throwing side arm

http://www.chicagobreakingsports.com/2011/02/...

Cubs Acquire Robert Coello
By Ben Nicholson-Smith [February 15 at 4:18pm CST]
The Cubs acquired Robert Coello from the Red Sox for minor league infielder Tony Thomas, the teams announced. The Red Sox designated Coello for assignment last week and moved closer to a deal this afternoon.

Coello led Red Sox minor leaguers with 130 strikeouts last year, before pitching in the Dominican Winter League and the Mexican Pacific League. He spent last season in the upper minors, where he posted a 3.86 ERA with 10.9 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9 in 107 1/3 innings as a starter and reliever. The Red Sox called the 26-year-old up for a six-game stint in the majors at the end of the season. The Reds drafted Coello as a catcher in 2004 and the Angels converted him to a pitcher before the 2007 season.

Looks like a trade of a couple of decent prospects. I was starting to like T. Thomas.

I think the Cubs did well here. Coello is a top 15 Red Sox prospect and has posted WHIPs of 1.08 and 1.17 the last two full years as he's moved up their system since converting to pitcher. Nice middle relief prospect, can always use one of those.

Thomas OTOH, it seems hard to get excited about him for a meaningful ML future. He doesn't hit for high average, he has poor plate discipline, those two negatives aren't offset by his decent power pop. He has just enough speed to try running the bases, but like Theriot, he's not very successful at doing it. Add in uninspired defense, and I don't see how he makes the big leagues.

Submitted by Jim Hickmans Bat on Wed, 02/16/2011 - 2:51am.
I think the Cubs did well here. Coello is a top 15 Red Sox prospect and has posted WHIPs of 1.08 and 1.17 the last two full years as he's moved up their system since converting to pitcher. Nice middle relief prospect, can always use one of those.

Thomas OTOH, it seems hard to get excited about him for a meaningful ML future. He doesn't hit for high average, he has poor plate discipline, those two negatives aren't offset by his decent power pop. He has just enough speed to try running the bases, but like Theriot, he's not very successful at doing it. Add in uninspired defense, and I don't see how he makes the big leagues.

==================================================

JIM H: The Red Sox were in a tough spot with Robert Coello. He is a "Draft Excluded Player" (added to an MLB 40-man roster after August 15th), and so he could not be optioned or outrighted to the minors any earlier tham 20 days prior to MLB Opening Day (March 11th). Therefore the Red Sox had to either trade him or release him.

The 2B job at Iowa was his for the taking at Minor League Camp last March, but Tony Thomas played himself right back to Tennessee with poor defense and brain-dead baserunning. Thomas is a streaky hitter, but when he's hot, pitchers can't get him out. He lacks the arm and athleticism to play other positions, so either he makes it to the big leagues as an everyday second-baseman, or he's a long-term AAA 2B.

Thomas was 15 out of 17 in SBs at Tennessee last season, so his brain must have recovered.

Not sure why you suggest that second base doesn't require athleticism. It strikes me as one of the skilled positions--less so than shortstop, obviously, but I have trouble imagining Aramis playing second.

Thomas had an OPS last season of .823, which would put him third behind M. Smith and B. Jackson among Cub prospects who are still in the organization and under the age of 28 (i.e., excluding Guyer/Chirinos/Snyder/LaHair). With the same exclusions, Thomas's SLG of .485 is better than Jackson's, and third behind Smith and Castillo. (Burgess's SLG on two teams was .465.)

Of course, Thomas is no longer with the organization, either. They're certainly taking a run at our talent!

If Thomas doesn't project as a major-league 2B, he's Eric Patterson and he won't have a career. But if he can play second, I think he's legit. He's a better mix of power and speed than the two frontrunners for second on the Cubs right now.

Thomas was 15 out of 17 in SBs at Tennessee last season, so his brain must have recovered.

You do know that base-running is more than just SB's, right?

which would put him third behind M. Smith and B. Jackson among Cub prospects who are still in the organization and under the age of 28

And since when do you care about the age of a prospect?

"Since when do you care about the age of a prospect?"

When it's convenient.

Regarding Snyder and LaHair, the Cubs have indicated recently that they don't consider them real prospects by releasing Snyder in the offseason and by not rewarding LaHair with a September callup after a 25-HR, .942 OPS season at Iowa.

nice headline, btw, AZP...

Postseason Odds, PECOTA version

http://www.baseballprospectus.com/statistics/...

{shock and outrage}

yawn

"Among the position players who hit today, Geovany Soto put on the best power display, crushing a number of dingers onto Center Street"

over/under on 70rbis out of the 7/8 slot.

Trib says Jackson hit a bomb at Fitch Park onto the street that cracked the windshield of a passing car--driver stopped, asked to see "the person in charge" and demanded payment for damages. Lulz....

Question for Phil--what are the dimensions at Fitch, are these homers onto the street moon shots or just a function of a tiny ballpark?

Jackson hit the hardest ball I saw in ST last spring, knocking one high off the CF wall in HoHoKam that may have still been climbing when it connected. He's got the ability to really hit some monster shots.

Submitted by Jim Hickmans Bat on Wed, 02/16/2011 - 2:41am.
Trib says Jackson hit a bomb at Fitch Park onto the street that cracked the windshield of a passing car--driver stopped, asked to see "the person in charge" and demanded payment for damages. Lulz....

Question for Phil--what are the dimensions at Fitch, are these homers onto the street moon shots or just a function of a tiny ballpark?

============================================

JIM H: The four fields at Fitch Park have huge dimensions, about 350 down the lines and 415 to dead center, with 20-ft high fences and the Green Monster (batter's eye) in CF. That's why you see so many triples and so few HR in Extended Spring Training, AZL Cubs, and AZ Instructs games.

"Uribe's best position is third base, but the Dodgers signed him to primarily play second. Still, he's likely a big improvement there over Ryan Theriot, who played second for the Dodgers the final two months of last season and at times appeared to have the mobility of an anvil."

Tony Jackson, ESPN Los Angeles

The problem here is not Tony Jackson. The Cub fan lens distorts shitty players. It makes them look passable. Still, Uribe over Theriot? ...that hurts.

Tyler Colvin worked-out at 1B for about 30 min in infield practice yesterday, and looked good. He is a natural first-baseman, but hasn't player there since his freshman year at Clemson (he was moved to the outfield at Clemson to take greater advantage of his speed and athleticism).

Phil in you opinion how serious are the Cubs putting him at first base?
Platoon this year? (Who is Cubs back up at 1b?)
Starter 2011?

Submitted by jacos on Wed, 02/16/2011 - 10:21am.
Phil in you opinion how serious are the Cubs putting him at first base?
Platoon this year? (Who is Cubs back up at 1b?)
Starter 2011?

========================================

JACOS: Tyler Colvin and Jeff Baker are the Cubs back-up 1B right now, but I strongly suspect that Geovany Soto could end up playing some 1B on days he's not catching, especially against a LHSP.

As for 2012, I think it's possible that Colvin could play 1B, but only if Brett Jackson has graduated to MLB and Marlon Byrd has not been traded. Otherwise, I believe the Cubs will pursue a 1B next off-season (like Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder), with Colvin/Soto the 1B fall-back option in case they can't get one of the guys they want.

"I strongly suspect that Geovany Soto could end up playing some 1B on days he's not catching,"

What is this based on? While it is a good idea, I can’t say I have heard from any other source.

Has Soto even taken grounders?

Submitted by Rob Richardson on Wed, 02/16/2011 - 1:11pm.
"I strongly suspect that Geovany Soto could end up playing some 1B on days he's not catching,"

What is this based on? While it is a good idea, I can’t say I have heard from any other source

======================================

BOB R: I base it on the fact that Soto played 1B at Iowa in 2007 when he had a sore shoulder, and that since he is recovering from post-2010 shoulder surgery, the Cubs may have to find another position for him to play if he is unable to handle a #1 catcher's work-load. So far the Cubs have made no public comment about the present condition of Soto's shoulder or the most-recent progress in his rehab.

Also, as I have mentioned before, if a club has a good-hitting catcher--especially one who might be his club's best offensive player, as is the case with Soto--it is a good thing if the catcher has another position he can play on day's he's not catching, as has happended in the past with catchers like Yogi Berra (LF), Gus Triandos (1B), Ed Bailey (1B), Johnny Bench (3B-1B-LF-RF), Gary Carter (RF), Carlton Fisk (1B-LF), etc.

A lot depends on what other position or positions the catcher is capable of playing, and if that position is blocked by another player you want in the lineup every day. With Carlos Pena now the Cubs #1 1B, there should be a good chance to get Soto some playing time at 1B in 2011, especially against LHSP.

Obviously having the good-hitting catcher DH when he's not catching would be ideal, but it just isn't possible for the Cubs or any other National League team to do that (except in interleague play). It also helps to have a decent-hitting back-up catcher, so that when you move your #1 catcher to another position on days he's not catching, you aren't creating a black-hole in the lineup with your back-up catcher.

Thinking of Interleague games as "a chance to get Koyie Hill into the lineup" is the final nail in the coffin for my appreciation of that concept.

Keith Moreland gets the WGN radio gig.

YES!!!!!!!

ZONK baby!!

Nothing like his easy going Texas drawl to make a drive home go by so pleasantly.

That may just encourage me to get XM.

Keith Moreland gets the WGN radio gig.

meh

Yawn.

Of all of the candidates, I suppose he was the best. Just, the "pool" was not that strong.

Bring me Bob Ueker.

Of all of the candidates, I suppose he was the best. Just, the "pool" was not that strong.

A metaphor for the Cubs' farm system.

A metaphor for the Cubs' farm system.

Actually, I think it would be a metaphor for the Cubs' Big League squad as opposed to the farm.

I'm glad Moreland got it over Otto. Now Moreland has to work on not sounding like Tim McCarver.

Pat & Keith on wgn radio right now

and Moreland promptly refers to Castro as Castillo...

And Pat says if Moreland spills his soup on his pants he's going to include that info in the broadcast.

Ah, baseball on radio...one of the great things in life!

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

Sun times link to Moreland story

Xm says Pujols deadline has passed without a deal

Moreland contract is 3yrs, per Bruce Levine on espn radio

My sources suggest it's backloaded with a full NTC

Hendry does the hiring for WGN radio?

No Pujols deal via xm

Sirius Radio saying no Pujols deal.

Dewitt, the Cards owner, said during the press conference that they didn't run out of time to sign Pujols, they just couldn't reach agreement. The GM Mozeliak said they made him 1 offer just after January 1st. Dewitt said there was a little talk about if they could modify the offer to get it done, but they never changed the offer. Someone this morning leaked the Cards offer was between $19-23 million per year, I don't know how long. MLB Network and ESPN both reported those numbers, which if true wouldn't put Pujols in the top 5 in yearly salary, which, despite my despising him, that's insane. That's less than Ryan Howard, and Pujols is a far better player.

I still would be very weary of making a 8-10 year offer to him, or any player, period, especially if it takes then into their late 30's/early 40's.

I heard Cards offered 8/200 on ESPN.

I've switched to MLB Network, but when I had ESPN on they had a ticker running across the bottom saying the offer was $19-23 mil per year. Then they had someone in studio say that wouldn't put him in the top 5 in yearly salaries.

I wonder if he just doesn't want to play for St Louis anymore. $200 million is a lot of money -- what difference does 20 million or even $50 million more make when you're talking about that kind of money? What's he gonna do? Buy the Dominican Republic?

I would bet that he'd take that contract.

The thing is that Pujols has already given the Cardinals a great deal for the first 11 years of his career, so he feels like he should be paid at least close to market value. Eight years for $220 would get it done for sure.

I think the Cardinals are in for a rude awakening if they think Pujols is going to go on the open market and get less than 8/$200.

Bruce Levine said "his Cardinal office source" said they offered 10/240

Would you want the Cubs to offer Pooholes 10/240? 8/200 for that matter? I would be hesitant.

No

Hmm...how about 5 years, 28 million?

Pujols isn't going to sign for 8/200, but yeah, I would want the Cubs to offer him that.

Last year, if he made $25 million, he'd be a bargain. That's how good he has been.

The Cubs and other teams will have the luxury of having one more season of information to look at regardign signing him, though.

That one extra year could sting the signing club as well if Pujols goes crazy and drops 10 WAR or something like that.

Anyway, I think he gets 10/280 or more. I'd love to Cubs to sign him at that.

If he has a 10 WAR... well, part of his WAR scores are from the UZR, so you should probably throw that bit out. But if he has a 10 WAR season, it's not like he's going to command $350 million contract. He could go down from 10 years $300 million, but I don't see him getting more than that, no matter what he does this year.

Weeks 5/50 extension with Brewers

O Cabrera officially signs with Tribe, Bruce Levine orders crow sandwich for lunch bur was overheard saying "wait till next year"

Byrd said Wednesday he was the one who first contacted Conte after Byrd noticed many of the nutritional store supplements he was taking were showing up on baseball's banned substance list.

"Instead of me being dumb and just trying different things, I wanted to reach out to somebody so I didn't test positive," Byrd said.

"It took him about a year just to trust me. He didn't want to be associated with anyone that might get him in trouble."

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

Byrd noticed many of the nutritional store supplements **he was taking** were showing up on baseball's banned substance list.

This is a tacit admission that he was violating MLB doping rules!! He just never tested positive.

I am not sure what the rules state, but often there is some quantity (i.e. well above the body's natural level) bar for doping restrictions.

In biking, I think that too many red blood cells is actually tested for.

Marlon Byrd, Scott Moore, and Bobby Scales have arrived and participated in workouts this morning. Byrd looked very rusty and really struggled to hit anything solid, but Marquez Smith had a nice BP session, hitting several bombs onto 6th Place. Smith's hitting style reminds me a lot of Gary Matthews, Sr.

I'd like to see Smith beat out Jeff Baker for a roster spot. In order to do that, he would have to show some proficiency at second base, since Ramirez may not go on the DL for a few months.

I note that Smith has played 32 games at second in his three full seasons in the minors, including nine last year. It's not a lot, but Baker never played second at any level as a pro until 2008, when he started 47 games there for the Rockies. (Barmes was the regular.) Baker must have learned the position in ST.

Anyway, Phil, if you see Smith working out at second, please let us know!

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