It's Oscar Night and as I'm sure many of you know, our own Theo Epstein has Hollywood royalty in his family tree.

Luis Valbuena smacked a two-out two-run HR into the upper bullpen beyond the RF fence in the bottom of the 4th to turn a one run deficit into a one run lead, and then after the Blue Squad pushed across a run to tie the game in the top of the 5th, Edwin Maysonet blasted a three-run HR with two outs in the bottom of the frame to lift the White Squad to a 6-3 victory in a five-inning intrasquad game played this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ.

Brett Jackson (two singles and a double) and Dave Sappelt (two doubles and a single) had three hits a piece for the Blue Squad.

Starlin Castro had three hits (two singles and a double) and scored three runs, and Jorge Soler, Nate Schierholtz, and Brian Bogusevic slugged solo home runs, as the White Squad defeated the Blue Squad 7-3 in a five-inning intrasquad game played this afternoon at Dwight Patterson Field at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, AZ.

Last week, the Cubs outrighted Tony Campana off thier 40-man to make room for Scott Hairston. Today, the Diamondbacks agreed to give up two pitchers for the speedster...RHP Erick Leal and RHP Jesus Castillo. Judging by the quality going out, I wouldn't expect much on the quality coming in, but maybe the Cubs unearth one of those diamonds in the rough. Leal, a 6'3" righty out of Venezuela, will be playing his age 18 season and Castillo is a 6'2" righty also out of Venezuela and will be playing his age 17 season. In both cases, plenty of time for them to learn the "Cubs Way." Nick Piecoro had both of them in a write-up on some of the D'Backs international signings from back in late 2011 that you can view here and see some video. Here are the quotes from the D'Backs international scouting director Carlos Gomez at the time:

Re: Castillo ($250K signing bonus)

“He’s about 6-2, 165, 170 pounds. He’s long, lean and all kinds of projectable. He has a loose, cool rhythm about him, really free and easy. His fastball ranges from 82-89 mph, but he pitches 85-86 right now. I think he has a chance to throw a lot harder. His best secondary pitch is his changeup and the breaking ball isn’t bad. The spin is there, but it needs work and consistency. He gets really good extension, almost jumps off the mound. We think he can start; we see starter’s arm action and delivery from him.”

Re: Leal ($75K signing bonus)

“He’s 6-3, 180 pounds. He has a nice delivery, a nice arm action, and the highlight again is the breaking ball. He’s a kid who can spin it. It’s 74-76 mph already and his fastball is 86-88. He has the physical size, the delivery, a breaking ball and a present, useable fastball for his age. He’s one of those guys who looks like he might have slipped through the cracks. A lot of that same type of guy was going for more earlier in the year. His delivery is pretty balanced, but he drives pretty aggressively out front; he really gets over his front side well. You can tell the extra breaking ball spin he gets is a function of his finish.”

Something is better than nothing and Crazy Legs was always a lot closer to nothing in my in opinion.

ESPN Chicago radio's weekly Saturday Baseball gabfest, "Talking Baseball", found Jed Hoyer hitting the airwaves one more time. Questions covered Scott Baker's status, Scott Feldman's rotation status, Wrigley renovations, Hot Prospects (Soler and Baez), Cub interest in Michael Bourn, trading a certain reliever (Carlos Marmol) and what's life with Theo really like. Finally, Jed's comments as he faces off  vs. Theo in the bunting contest. All that, plus a few post interview caller questions that hosts Bruce Levine and Fred Hubner try to field. Official Scorer: Bruce Levine need a catcher's knuckleball mitt.

A really full transcript after the jump.

With Spring Training starting this week, here is a look ahead at what could be the Cubs 2013 Opening Day roster & lineup.

The Cubs have sent RHP Lendy Castillo outright to AAA Iowa. Castillo was Designated for Assignment on January 26th when RHP Carlos Villanueva (MLB Article XX-B free-agent signed by the Cubs last month) was added to the 40-man roster.

Very early in the life of this story but...I'm just sayin'.

I like Jim Harbaugh.
He's had his ups and downs.
You can't forget the Mike Ditka insani-tirade in that awful Bears loss to the Vikings with the Harbaugh audible, the interception, and the 20 to nothin' Bears lead in the 4th going poof.

Not trying to step on Rob's post so my apologies for the dueling TCR writeups.

I'm providing a hand made transcript of the XM Front Office Radio show, hosted by former GM's Jim Bowden, (Reds GM 1992-2003 and Expos/Nationals 2004-2009) and Jim Duquette (aka, "Duke", the Mets GM 2004). Their program airs every Sunday morning.  They interviewed Cubs GM Jed Hoyer (preceded by interviews of Mets Sandy Alderson and followed by Rangers Jon Daniels) and there was some post-interview Cubs chatter by the two hosts. Just some decent hot stove talk on a late January AM.

Enjoy.

Bowden: You had a very busy offseason here. Can you break down moves...Edwin Jackson, Scott Baker, Carlos Villaneuv-er, Scott Hairston, Kuji Fujikawa?

Meatballs, mashed potatoes and Lumpy Gravy after the jump...

So the Cubs are going to sign Scott Hairston, but since the deal isn't official we don't really have comments from TheJedi on his exact purpose. Chances are though, he'll platoon with DeJesus and Schierholtz and be the thunder off the bench late in games. And if they happen to trade Alfonso Soriano at some point, he might just be the starting left fielder. The 33-year old usually puts up OPS numbers around the mid 700's, most of it playing in pitching friendly parks like Oakland, San Diego and Citi Field, although he did start out his career in Arizona. The deal at 2/$5M with up to $1.25M in perfomance bonuses each season is reasonable enough in today's baseball economics, there's also something about another extra $1M being tacked on per year as well. It's probably bad news for Dave Sappelt's hopes of making the Opening Day roster, but doubtful the outfield will stay healthy all season, so he'll probably get his chance. If you're looking for 2 good reasons to like the deal, it's a career .825 OPS versus lefties(.867 last year) and that for his career he sees 3.85 pitches per plate appearance (closer to 4 the last 2 seasons). So another efficient, if not spectacular move by TheJedi.

And then the great 40-man mystery has been solved, although another is awaiting once they deal with Hairston's spot. But last year's Rule 5 pick-up Lendy Castillo has been DFA'd to make room for Carlos Villanueva. If no other team wishes to use up a 40-man spot on him, and he pitched rather poorly this winter, he'll likely be outrighted and wander the Cubs's farm system this season.

The guys at Vine Line got me a ticket to this year's convention.
Because they're awesome.
In the past I always arrived late to that Saturday morning meeting with the GM and Manager, ended up standing in the back of the crowded ballroom getting pictures of the backs of Cub fan's heads.
I thought with Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Dale Sveum and Shiraz Rehman, I should finally be on time.
Instead of the Hilton on Michigan, it's at the Sheraton on the river this year.
Phones work here which is fabulous, but... new layout.

The Bears get their new coach in Marc Trestman, his last gig was with the CFL Montreal Alouettes...who knew Moises Alou was so popular in Canada. Trestman has been out of the NFL for 8 years, coaching in the CFL and college, but has plenty of NFL experience. He's considered some sort of QB guru starting his career coaching Bernie Kosar at the University of Miami and then successful runs with Steve Young, Rich Gannon, Jake Plummer and Scott Mitchell, although I don't recall anything successful about Scott Mitchell in the NFL.

And if that's not enough good news, he's going to hire Aaron Kromer as his offensive coordinator/offensive line coach ending the Mike Tice era. Kromer comes way of the New Orleans Saints where he's been there the last 5 years including filling in as interim head coach for the first 6 games of last season while Sean Payton and Joe Vitt served suspensions.

Word is that they would like to keep Rod Marinelli as defensive coordinator which I doubt anyone will complain about.  Special teams coach Dave Toub left to take a job with Kansas City so there's a vacancy there.

Anyway, only time will tell if this is a good move. The Bears are obviously moving to an offensive mindset and while the change is welcome, they're way behind the curve and it's always hard to lead when you're following. But I appreciate the out-of-the-box thinking in hiring a guy from the CFL, hopefully he'll bring some fresh ideas, something the Bears have been sorely short on for a long time.

According to Patrick Mooney of CSN, the Cubs added OF Brett Lillibridge and OF Darnell McDonald on minor league deals today with spring training invites. They also agreed to a $930K contract with Luis Valbuena, thus avoiding arbitration.

 

Check out the left sidebar for some of the other NRI's to spring training courtesy of Arizona Awesome.

 

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