All Quiet on the Cubs Front

These few weeks before spring training starts is about as dull as it gets around these parts. We're all still waiting on Cespedes, but with Jedstein and their cone of silence, it's not like we can expect many leaks. There's also the case of the musical 40-man roster chairs with the Cubs having to drop someone once they add Gerardo Concepcion. Vegas money should be on Andy Sonnastine with Marcus Mateo and his lack of options a strong second. And the issue of compensation for both Theo and Jed still looms with no foreseeable end in sight.

I've got my annual prospect list-mania post coming up for Monday which always includes my delusional top 16 which should be good for laugh. It doesn't appear our pal Arizona Phil put up a list this year unfortunately, so you'll have to get your prospect fix from the national guys.

Speaking of Arizona, I'm sure most of you know about "Boys of Spring", the site run by the spring training P.A. announcer Tim Sheridan. While we anxiously await Arizona Phil's wonderfully detailed posts from camp, that can hold you over with pretty pictures. From what I can encode from his posts so far, the following have showed up at Arizona: Justin Bour, Zeke DeVoss, Dustin Geiger, Josh Vitters, Jim Adduci, Matt Cerda, Tony Campana, Dave Sappelt, Jeff Samardzija, David DeJesus, Darwin Barney, Matt Garza, Dale Sveum and Dave McKay. I'm sure there are others, but those seem to be the ones mentioned. He did a little paraphrasing from a pep talk Sveum was giving the kids earlier last week.

  • There will be no excuses for not doing something the right way.
  • Theo Epstein is one of the smartest people he's ever been around, and that Theo will not accept mediocrity, not from himself, not from anyone.
  • Making excuses is caused by your own insecurities and lack of preparation.
  • So many games are won by one run and the Cubs will prepare and do all the little things the right way in order to be the team that wins those close games.

  • He also told the guys they are being given the greatest opportunity in all of sports, to be the players who win it all after 103 years.

The words sound nice, let's see if he backs it up with some Soriano benching when he glides into 2nd base after a drive to right center that he gawked at.

Back to Cespedes, George Ofman whom rivals Phil Rogers in bad scoops, did tweet that someone has made a bigger offer for the Cuban outfielder than the Marlins and we obviously know the Cubs interest. Time will tell...

I leave you with these words from the Cubs Ivy League leader.

"I don't agree with the word 'rebuilding' ever," he said. "Because, for one thing, it denotes that you're building something that already existed, but that's not how baseball works. You're constantly growing and moving onto the next iteration of the club, so I think building is the appropriate [word] -- sure we're building in Chicago, but we went through some building phases here. The art of it is trying to do it in a way where nobody notices. When you're winning 95 games a year and getting into the playoffs, then people don't notice that we've integrated a lot of this talent and we've made a lot of short-term sacrifices for long-term stability. I think there were a lot of times when we were able to pull that off here [in Boston], there were a lot of times that we failed as well."

Until Monday...


Andy Sisco signed with Dodgers, Mitch Atkins with Nationals.

and the Rich Harden shoulder surgery news...

Yahoo fantasy baseball is open.

Hoyer on...

Marmol:"I don't think what happened last year is acceptable," Hoyer said Thursday on "The Carmen, Jurko & Harry Show" on ESPN 1000. "I think there's nothing more demoralizing to a baseball team than to win for 2:45 and then lose in the last 10. I think that happened a lot last year.

"If you look back, this guy has had some dominant years. ... Everyone said the slider wasn't quite the same last. Hopefully there are some mechanical things we can do to get that back. Blowing 10 saves isn't acceptable, but we're not wiling to say he can't get back to where he was before."

Soriano (expecting him to be with team to start the year):
The power was there last year, the RBIs were there. Obviously it really comes down to defense and we're hoping with some better conditioning and some better health, that he can be a little better out there.

"He's a great pitcher and a guy we're going to talk to him about being part of our future, for sure. We need more guys like Matt, not less, and if we can work something out we'll certainly have those discussions."

I listened to the interview live locally in the car. It was nice to hear one of the new suits. What Hoy also stated about Sori was that not only was it unlikely that he would NOT be with the team - he was "working hard" during the off-season to try to get on base more apparently. How does one do that at his age exactly?

As it stands, we all know that there ain't a lot of run producers on the current roster. So if he has another .276 obp year, its gonna be interesting to find out if the team can achieve 70 wins.

To their credit, the hosts on WMVP (one a lifetime season tix holder) asked some decent questions I think, if you check ROB G's links.

"he was "working hard" during the off-season to try to get on base more apparently. How does one do that at his age exactly?"

if people knew how to do that at any age you'd have a highly paid batting coach with a job for decades.

i imagine he'll take 2 foot widths off the top of the box rather than 1... =p

Was he still using that 10 ton bat last year? I can't remember. If so, wouldn't it help a bit to go a little lighter? I guess it won't help his on base ratio but, come on, dude, you're 36. Let it go. And maybe you won't think you have to start your swing as soon as the pitcher begins his windup.

yeah, still using a huge bat.

Lighter bat could absolutely help, if he'd actually make adjustments. Lighter bat means quicker swing means a longer time to assess the quality of the pitch.

If he's still using the heavy bat, he's beyond help.

The Soriano bats for sale on EBay are 35" and only 33 ounces.



Yeah, but those are the giveaway bats for kids on bat day.

he was "working hard" during the off-season to try to get on base more apparently.

A lighter bat and some LASIK surgery is about all I can think of...maybe an elbow pad so he can stand on top of the plate and get plunked.

organizational meetings next Wed/Thurs...adorable story of Hoyer driving to Mesa so he can take his golden retriever with him.

Did he put the dog on the top of his car?

Aunt Edna was on top of car, dog was in back

Signed: RHP Steven Maxwell (37), LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith
Released: RHP Steven Maxwell, RHP Santo Rodriguez

The Cubs signed 37th-round Texas Christian senior Steven Maxwell on Feb. 2, then released him a day later.

Probably failed a physical or a drug test. Why else?

Bad breath?

Steven Maxwell was the Cubs 37th round selection in the 2011 Rule 4 Draft (First-Year Player Draft). and because he was a college senior with no eligibility left, he remained on the Cubs Negotiation List past the 8/15 deadline, and would have remained on the list through May 27, 2012 (one week prior to the 2012 Rule 4 Draft) if he had not signed.

In true Bluto Animal House fashion, Maxwell actually spent six years at TCU, getting an academic redshirt in his freshman season (2006) and a medical redshirt in 2008 when he underwent TJS. (He is now 24 years old).

He had an outstanding year in 2010 while a member of the Horned Frogs College World Series squad, and was named Mountain West Conference Pitcher of the Year and a 2nd team All-American. He was selected by the Minnesota Twins in the 12th round of the 2010 Rule 4 Draft but did not sign.

He opted to return to school and pitched for the Frogs again this past season (2011), but struggled off & on with a sore arm, causing his draft value to plummet. So I suspect he failed his physical and had his contract voided.

Would you guys consider using coke, pot, booze etc....would you consider those PED's?
Saw this discussion on can't believe that these are considered PED's.

I am always amazed at those guys that can show up and play when they're either still drunk or hungover.

Those soft tossers and splitfinger guys always throw better when they're hungover because they aren't overthrowing. Aside from that, I cannot understand how anybody, especially a hitter, can play when he's drunk. Does not make sense to me.

"Party tonight, gym tomorrow."

rinse and repeat. it'd be nice to be 20-something and invincible again.

Oil Can Boyd, Doc Gooden, and Stawberry did alright with the nose candy. I can't see booze being very helpful. I could see weed being advantageous for a DH, but little else.

Booze was good for David Wells. I can see all those things being good for one player or another

There's still a lot of guys in the show older than me and I can't remember how my appliances work when I'm hungover. Forget trying to figure out what some guy is looking for on a 2-2 pitch.

Jon Heyman obviously paying attention to Theo this offseason-

JonHeymanCBS #brewers, #cubs, #astros are all good fits for edgar renteria, who has something left and will play in 2012

renteria is still a FA? damn.

fukudome, dlee, damon, j.vazquez, ibanez, jd drew (rumored to be considering retirement), m.gonzalez, j.izzy, m.ordonez still looking a job.

j.vazquez kinda surprised me...up/down how people feel about him, but he finished very strong.

Vazquez may be retiring, I would imagine that might limit interest.

Lee was pulling a Jermaine Dye allegedly, telling teams he'd only play for a certain amount of money that he isn't going to get apparently.

J.D. Drew recovering from injury, asking for too much money, or just tired of the game?

sam fuld story on mlb network about his diabetes (t1 since age 10).

he said one of the first things he did when he was called up to the cubs was talk to santo. santo was ecstatic and excited about another player with t1 diabetes playing the majors.

tag in twitter is good for a laugh

My contributions:
The Definitive Guide to Alfonso Soriano's Hustle Plays #ThinnestSportsBooks
Protecting the Quarterback by Mike Martz #ThinnestSportsBooks
The Importance of OBP by Jim Hendry #ThinnestSportsBooks
Protecting Young Pitchers by Dusty Baker #ThinnestSportsBooks

too easy....

baker catches a lot of hell for aggregating pitchers and treating them like they're all the same.

the surgery toll doesn't add up because the list is both short and debated who actually is his "fault."

plus it'd be neat if they'd take russ ortiz (who b.cox worked even harder) and livan hernandez out of these discussions...or at least discounted them...because they could throw 130 pitches in a game if it came down to it and do it again 5 days later.

too many articles about who he's ruined that don't even name names...except everyone's favorite fallback OMFG PRIOR 03. late september 03 with prior was the worst mistake dustbag ever made pertaining to pitching management if not for anything else than he became a scapegoat (or an evil dunce).

if there's an Internet lost and found, someone see if Crunch's sense of humor is there along with his sense of reality

can someone explain humor writing that's based on an assumed fact to RobG.

what makes your comment funny is the assumption of truth.

what i'm commenting on has nothing to do with you and everything to do with the view that makes it "funny."

the assumption of truth...and Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, Jason Schmidt, Russ Ortiz, Aaron Harang, Edinson Volquez (few more in there I believe).

no shit it's hyperbolic, it' s humor, but there's plenty of smoke around Baker in this fire. There's plenty of reasons to make the joke because there's plenty of times that pitchers got hurt under Baker. Is he unfairly maligned for it? A bit....

Does he deserve some criticism and an occasional jab? Yup...

check out what f.alou did with schmidt.

...and russ ortiz has gone way out of his way to deflect away from dusty...and bobby cox has some explaining to do if dusty is somehow part of the problem. ortiz, zambrano, and l.hernandez were horses.

people aggregate his average pitches per year on a staff, it comes out 5-ish more than league average, and people flip.

criticism, yah, jab, yah...villainous hate and posterboy of pitcher abuse (thanks BBProspectus and the church of travis hafner), nah. there's defiantly smoke and perhaps fire, but some people are going around claiming arson.

Definitely, not defiantly. Unless the smoke was defiant.

Hands Off Style of Baseball Operations By Crane Kenney


that should piss of Jim Hickman's Bat

there's a bunch more in the twitter box from me and Cubnut

I was actually was following your lead with our favorite TCR curmudgeon.

/I keed, crunch


Just the +1 comment in regards to your earlier rant. Just a little teasing.

I agree.

an always enjoyable read by Posnanski, this one on great seasons and age.

Great read. I didn't realize Williams hit .400 in his age 22 season. I do wonder how well this translates to players with a lower peak? I guess it would probably look the same with the overall numbers depressed slightly for the 5-6 or 4-5 WAR seasons.

I can't imagine why anyone would try to sign Renteria. He played in one of the best hitter's parks in the majors last year and had an ops under 700.

Barney is a better player at an extremely low cost.

SS at a decent cost, mostly...and it seems he's willing to be a part-time player at this point.

you could probably get the guy for 1-2m...3m in a screwed up bidding war that probably don't exist.

Recent comments

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  • I know he's struggles against lefties but Schwarber seems zoned in - hope he starts tonight.

  • Awesome stuff, Phil.

  • listening on ESPN 1000, caller says Bill Welke will be the home plate ump today. Supposedly his reputation is for having an even bigger strike zone than last night's Phil Cuzzi. Some of the issues with bad umpiring come from an inconsistent strike zone. Hoping at least for consistency. Last night's called strike on David Ross was outright embarrassing for Cuzzi.

    That might work out in favor of Kyle Hendricks, who benefits much from a large strike zone.

  • it's kind of mesmerizing to watch
    should Theo add some Ted Abernathy videos for minor league pitching coordinator's use?

    sadly, Ted passed away in 2004 from complications of Alzheimers. I always loved the Cub bullpen trio of Phil Regan, Ted Abernathy and Hank Aguirre. As a kid, I even worked on both Phil Regan (very quirky delivery) and Ted Abernathy (extreme submarine) imitations when throwing a rubber ball against a wall. It wasn't a good imitation unless I could scrape my knuckles off the ground. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for submariners.

  • HAGSAG: Chris Pieters was sent to instructs to develop his hitting, bunting, and outfield play (he is already a decent first-baseman).  

    Pieters is tall and rangy , a "long-strider" in the same mold as Trey Martin and Rashad Crawford. He is a very patient hitter (unusual for a hitter with his lack of experience) and has an outstanding (almost uncanny) eye at the plate, and he is a fast runner with unusually good baserunning instincts, and he is a good basestealer, too.

  • I doubt we will see Pedro in any more "high leverage" situations this series. With Hendricks and the pen today, we need Bryant-Rizzo-Castro to get going ASAP.

  • One funny thing to see before the game was the two submariner pitchers (David Berg and Corbin Hoffner) playing catch with each other. Both pitchers throw "submarine" even when they play catch, and it's kind of mesmerizing to watch, even for the other players. 

  • CUBSTER: One of the points of emphasis  at "basic" Instructs this year was teaching the position players the art of baserunning and base-stealing, like getting a good primary and seconday lead, reading the pitcher, cutting bases sharply, and different ways to slide to maximize the baserunner's chance to arrive safely. 

  • has some interesting stats/graphs on pitch and strike zones and you can dial up individual games/pitchers. I'd love to see some comments from readers who can interpret this better than I can. I thought the Ump was really inconsistent with a very wide zone. Does this info seem to match up with my eyeball perception? Also, looking at the graphs, Lackey was not throwing as many pitches below the K-zone (certainly more above) while Lester was clearly getting his pitches down and not many above.

  • As I was fearing in my post yesterday, Maddon keeps trotting Strop out against the Redbirds and he constantly fails. I understand the psychology behind this, but in a series where there is a finite lock on who moves on, why does he keep riding the wrong horse?

  • AZ Phil: Agree, this must have been a really fun game to watch. There was a lot of base stealing going on. Are the pitchers not holding runners or is the catching still a work in progress?

  • Cuzzi has long been known as having the biggest strike zone among all umpires.

  • AZ Phil, give me a scouting report on Chris Pieters since he has become a 1B/OF.

  • I think it's probably hard to adjust to an ump's zone mid-game, as least for hitters. Pitchers can locate to an ump's zone, but hitters have minimal time to react.

    But, whatever. Umps are going to miss calls. Let's beat up on the non-Lackey starters.

  • Watched a little of Mets-Dodgers.

    Jason deGrom -- oh, my.

  • Cubs 3-4-5 hitters are 0-21 so far in the post-season.

    Let's change that in a big effin' way tomorrow, boys.