Cubs News Round-Up: Ben Sheets, Spring Training, Top 10 Prospect List, Zambrano Interview

- The Hardball :

  1. Starlin Castro
  2. Josh Vitters
  3. Brett Jackson
  4. Jay Jackson
  5. Hak-Ju Lee
  6. Kyler Burke
  7. Andrew Cashner
  8. Chris Archer
  9. Chris Carpenter
  10. Ryan Flaherty

Archer's not a name you see on a lot of Top 10 or even Top 20 lists so far.

- Ben Sheets , the Cubs and about nine other clubs will be there. While the odds of Sheets making it through a full season are about on par with the odds that you're going to go , it sure would make for some exciting buzz heading into the season if the Cubs could land him. There's been a few comparisons to Rich Harden and why would they let Harden go and then pursue Sheets. And yes the injury concerns are similar, but the one thing Sheets has going for him over Harden is his ability to go deep into games when he is pitching. He has 18 complete games in his career including 5 in 2008. Maybe he shouldn't have completed those games, but and for the most part he was in the 100-110 range. You have to admit - Zambrano, Sheets, Dempster, Lilly and Wells would be a real nice looking 5-man rotation and suddenly make 2010 a lot more interesting.

- One of our readers "jacos" heard an interview with The highlights...

-Said he's in "best shape ever"

- Wants to help team win

-Said he had "6 pack abs" lifted up his shirt, Waddle said atleast a "4
pack" and could not believe Z was 265, but he looked so fit

-Talked about Lou visits to mound and what he says, (Z doing Lou's
voice)-"Ya gotta throw strikes. Cmon. A lot of people are watching"

-Most feared hitter Pujlos then Carlos Lee

-Goals for next year "stay in shape" and help the team win

-Did not play softball last year

-Didn't want to address Sosa and McGwire but said he had baseball friend who took "asteroids"(no joke)

The friend did not make MLB but had warning track power and when he took "asteroids"(second time) he could "smash the ball"

*Before we get chastized for making fun of Z's accent or whatever, it's come to my attention that it's "esteroide" in Spanish which is what he was probably saying, but asteroid is way funnier.

and we may have uncovered the smoking gun that would indicate when he said the Ricketts have already made up their mind that they want their spring training operations out of Florida.

“Kenney said if he got the consensus of the lodging organiztion
within the county that it would suppoprt the project by virtue of bed
tax funds it would be the last piece he was looking for to approach the
owners that they submit their notice of termination with Mesa and start
negotiations with Collier,” Medweddeff said.

You never want to read too much into a newspaper quote and maybe this Medweddeff person is just trying to make everyone feel good about why they're pursuing this whole thing, but that sure does sound like the Cubs are really just looking for reasons to move to Florida.

UPDATE: that Cubs will move to Florida barring Arizona coming up with "unforeseen money".

- One little note I wanted to pass along from a Rick Sutcliffe interview on XM radio this morning. He was talking about how he's glad Nolan Ryan is trying to get pitchers to go deeper into games with Texas and then said he's hearing that the Cubs plan to make a similar push with the addition of Greg Maddux. It wasn't a big point he was making, but that is what he said.

Comments Cubs dispute report that a decision will be made by Friday, still planning on end of month.

Hopefully someone points out to them that Cubs spring training is in Arizona, before this goes too far.

I wonder if Carlos was pronouncing it "esteroids," as many native Spanish speakers do with words that begin with "s." Like Esteban (Steven). I hope not, because "asteroids" is frickin hilarious.

probably the case, but asteroids would be funnier...

Yes, I believe he was saying "esteroids". Real Neal pointed that out in last post also. I apologize for my ignorance of the Spanish language.

I apologize for my ignorance of the last post. We're square.

fuck you, racist asshole. love you :)

Hey Carlos!!! Good to see ya, man!!!! ~ip~

former #1 prospect of the Giants, use to throw mid 90's heat, not sure now with the way his K totals went down last year and how hittable he was. nonetheless, could be an interesting name to put a claim in...

According to MLB Trade Rumors, Valdez had TJ surgery in 2006...

maybe that's it, although usually you come back no worse for wear and even throwing harder on occasion

At least as good as Thomas Diamond.

He was more interesting when he was Manuel Mateo.

I'd kick in $20 if it means we get to have a guy named "Merkin" on our team.

This list seems more like "10 cubs minor leaguers I've heard of" rather than a top 10.

M. Grace on 'roids: "I was a single guy then. I want to be able to perform.That stuff will tear you up as far as your manhood is concerned."

i'm glad he's still on TV. he has a lot of nice/funny/etc. things left to say to the world.

No mention of slumpbusters? A shame.

"I would love to hear, 'You know what I took steroids because I wanted to hit the ball farther, I wanted to throw the ball harder or I wanted to run faster,'" he said. "Ben Johnson, Marion Jones, why did they take steroids? To run faster, not to heal from injuries. They did it to run faster, OK? And I would love to start hearing, 'You know what, I did steroids because I wanted to improve my performance on the baseball field. I wanted to be bigger so I could hit the ball farther, I wanted to be able to run faster or I wanted to be able to throw the ball harder.' Then I'll start respecting some of these guys who come out and give the reasons for their steroid use. But, you know, "I had an injuruy...' Every ballplayer, every football player, every basketball player has some kind of a little nagging injury during the season. That's a baloney cop-out." awesome.

I would like to hear: "My fragile ego requires me to take shots at baseball players who were better than me, and I've never forgiven Sammy for becoming more popular than I was. Also I like sex. Really. Because I'm a man." - M. Grace

i don't think mark grace owns anything resembling a fragile ego. you can rag on the guy pretty hard and he usually laughs or plays into it. his ARZ booth work is painful to listen to, but sometimes you get some gems out of a night of his mic work.

i don't think mark grace owns anything resembling a fragile ego. Maybe not. But his recurring need for attention strikes me as insecure.

AWESOME!!! Mark Grace always looking for a camera or microphone.

forgot to mention something I heard on Xm radio this morning...

"he's glad Nolan Ryan is trying to get pitchers to go deeper into games with Texas" And nothing says going deep into games like Rich Harden.

supposedly arthroscopic, not microfracture

And the Mets agreed to pay for it.
Carlos Beltran's agent Scott Boras told Andrew Marchand of ESPN Radio in New York that the Mets provided workman's compensation paperwork to pay for the procedure on his client's right knee. "The Mets gave consent to pay for the surgery," Boras said, noting that the office for Dr. Richard Steadman, the surgeon who performed Carlos Beltran's knee surgery, received the paperwork from team trainer Ray Ramirez. Boras also said he spoke with both Jeff Wilpon and Omar Minaya about the surgery on Tuesday while Beltran also spoke with Minaya. The Mets are expected to address the matter with the media at 2 p.m. ET. Jan. 14 - 1:54 pm et Source: this seems more pathetic to own then cool, no?

Put it right next to my 19th century map of the British Empire.

Without doing much research, here is a list of pitching reclamation projects by Hendry: Wade Miller Ryan Dempster Chad Fox Kerry Wood Shawn Estes Angel Guzman Glendon Rusch Jerome Williams Scott Williamson Neal Cotts Not included: The "Human Towel Drill", and Joe Borowski. There are 10 I can think of. Five were/are useful. How does this compare to the other GM's around baseball?

How was Kerry Wood a reclamation project for Hendry? Wood was already with the team when Hendry became GM. I'll say the same for Guzman, already in the system. A reclamation project is someone you pick up who has had injury and/or performance problems. Guys who are already there playing better or staying healthy don't qualify. Of the other 8, only Dempster has made any real contribution, and he's still an overpaid, over-hyped, mediocre at best pitcher.

considering no one seems to like Dempster I don't get the over-hyped otherwise, he's 28-15, 3.30 ERA and 406 IP's over the last two seasons...ERA is 7th best in the NL over 2 seasons.

We need more mediocre pitchers like Dempster.

Then McPhail offered him a contract and Grace left to take a bigger payday from Arizona.
A ring on his finger begs to differ.

Wood was a FA after the '06 season and signed an incentive laden contract to rehab with the Cubs. as are Cards, Rockies, Phillies and Padres

BNightengale #mlb The Cubs likely will leave Mesa, Az. for Naples, Fla., for spring training barring the state of AZ coming up with unforseen money. Crap.

Hey, right now it's cheaper to fly from LAX to Miami in March ($208 roundtrip on Delta) than LA to Phoenix ($386). Of course that leaves you with a 125 mile drive to Naples.

found $138 ticket on US Airways and United from LAX to Phoenix from 03/08 to 03/14 I think you'd fly into Fort Meyers and that would require at least one stop from LAX, flights were in the $220 range LAX to Miami that I found was $282 with a stopover or $300+

Interesting comments on each person in the Hardball Times list, especially Vitters. They describe Vitters as "a good defender." Really? I am not sure that there is anyone other than Vitters mom that would agree that Vitters is "a good defender."

KICK-OFF. Chicago Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano announces the launch of the BIG Z FOUNDATION, which helps underserved children and families. Mr. Zambrano and other Cubs are expected to attend the event at Fogo de Chão, where the evening includes a three-course meal. Jan. 17, 5 p.m.-8 p.m. Tickets are $125, proceeds benefit this Big Z Foundation. 661 N. LaSalle St., (312) 932-9330, named Illinois sportscaster of the year for the 5th time...

As I mentioned on another blog, this is Hughes' award for having to work with Ron Santo every day.

why would you be on another blog?

He is ashamed and moonlights.

Rob... you just are not meeting all of my needs. Others have been able to meet my needs.

ouch, do I need to send over Johann's mom?

Umm... she doesn't need to be sent over...

how about bent over?

2/14 with 3rd yr option for $9M pic of Sosa with normal sized head

I'll never forget the propaganda trip Grace was on when his final Cubs contract expired, and he called out McPhail in the press and claimed he didn't care about the money, he just wanted to be a Cub. Then McPhail offered him a contract and Grace left to take a bigger payday from Arizona. Class-less prick. I never did like the guy. As a ballplayer he was good, not great. He had the misfortune of being surrounded mostly by pure crap talent his entire time with the Cubs, but as a person, Grace is just another stuck-up, hypocritical, lying scumbag who loves to hear himself talk. Grace, Sutcliffe, and Joe Morgan should be locked in a booth together in some alternate reality.

Do you have anything you can link to on this? This is not the way I remember it at all or how I am reading about it on a dozen or more sites. I never heard of him being offered a contract by McPhail, and he signed like two days after he hit the open market after the Cubs didn't offer him anything.

i read a few things that Cubs weren't going to guarantee him a full-time gig (thinking Choi could be ready) and that Grace wanted a 3-yr deal, etc...never heard anything about any offers being made. the legend was always that after basically taking year-to-year deals over the years, he got pissed when the Cubs didn't want him anymore and didn't even talk to him after the offseason

mark grace wanted a multi-year deal...and he only wanted 2/3. he never got offered...or signed...more than a 1 year deal his entire career. who else who put up numbers like his would just take a string of 1-year deals? he may not be a fan of some of his ex-bosses and everyone knows he wasn't a sosa fan, but the guy definitely wanted to be a cub.

he never got offered...or signed...more than a 1 year deal his entire career.
yeah, wonder where that myth got perpetuated 2 yr-deal with 3rd yr option after '95 season. did take 1-yr deals after that though...

gotcha. thnx. and yeah, that one has been kicking around a long time.

As a ballplayer he was good, not great. Well, he was no HOFer, but he was still a damn good ballplayer. As for character...yeah, I could do with hearing less from him. To say the least. Funny, I was such a big fan of Grace and Steve Stone back in the day. Now I cringe when I hear those guys yammer on about all they know.

crud... Josh Johnson signs 4/39M extension with Marlins, was hoping Cubs would trade for him during the season or next offseason.
"For me, he was good in the clubhouse," Zambrano said. "He was a little moody ... sometimes a little strange, but he was good. "Sometimes the only bad problem for me was he talked to the media and said things he didn't have to say, sometimes like me. I wish him good luck in Seattle and hopefully he can do good."

So... He was good in the clubhouse except he was moody, strange, and said things to the media he shouldn't have said.

Yeah, Zambrano and Wells are just liars.

Hey, I'm just repeating exactly what Zambrano said. 3 people got Valverde correct including a 15 by Michael Connors putting him in a tie with "Bryan"

Boy, do I suck.

Rumors now that the D-Backs may release Eric Byrnes. If he's healthy enough to play (and this is all speculation on my part now), he, Reed Johnson, and Dye might be three righthanded, lefty-mashing outfielders the Cubs could consider to platoon in RF and spell Soriano (or Byrd in Johnson or maybe even Byrnes's case).

i was looking for info on Grace and came across this partial article, dated Nov 1st, 1992.
Insider has learned Dawson is ready to sign a five-year contract that would allow him to play for another two seasons, then join the coaching staff, front office or broadcasting team. The total package could be worth between $10 million and $12 million. "That's part of the structure, but I don't want to get into specifics," general manager Larry Himes said of the long-term deal. It is believed the deal has been agreed to in principle and could be signed as soon as Nov. 10. That's the day after expansion rosters are due in to league offices and the first date non-protected players can
of course, he ended up with the Red Sox in '93 so that's interesting...

damn you teflon himes... oh...wait... Selig believes new committee will institute changes, some quickly

all kinds of interesting "suits" stuff going on this offseason. inviting GMs to the owner's meetings this year was deemed a universal success, supposedly.

A 24 year old guy from Elko, Nevada posing as TYLER COLVIN convinced a Dodge dealer in Utah he would come back the next day and pay for a $50,000 truck and drove off with it. Arrested..


Dear Navigator, Thanks for posting that. Regards, Sam Fuld

There's a car dealer in Elko, Nevada who says, "That's okay, you can pay for it tomorrow" to little-known somewhat disappointing first-round baseball draft picks? I'll see you guys later. Me and Bobby Brownlie have a plane to catch.

Dealer- " You are THEE Tyler Colvin?"

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"(He's) someone I would welcome with open arms, not because I've known him for a long time, but he brings a 'Scott Eyre feel' to the clubhouse -- a light, funny, keep-everyone-on-their-toes type of feeling."
from the most vocal player on the team that Milton was a distraction...

You're not really comparing Ben Sheets to Milton Bradley, are you? Other than the fact that they both have a fairly lengthy injury history, what do they have in common?

I'm not, but sure seems like Theriot was making a point of it

Ah, I see where you're going with it. I didn't read his comments that way, but I can see how you could.

"Scott Eyre feel' to the clubhouse" i thought the 09 feel to the clubhouse was broke enough.

jack clark has opinions about stuff... "All those guys are cheaters," Clark said. "A-Rod (Alex Rodriguez): Fake, phony. Rafael Palmeiro: Fake, a phony. (Roger) Clemens, (Barry) Bonds. (Sammy) Sosa. Fakes. Phonies. They don't deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. They should all be in the Hall of Shame. They can afford to build it. They've all got so much money. And they could all go there and talk about the next way to rub something on your skin. The whole thing is creepy. "I don't know how they sleep at night, looking at all their fame, let alone the money they took by faking everybody out and lying to everybody."

not too bad over his career versus lefties...probably prefer Reed though if it came down to those 2.

guy was so popular he had his own TV interview show on FSN from 07-09. hell, he probably still is popular with the fans. if the guy moves on to a NL team he'll probably get one hell of an ovation when he returns to ARZ.

If he's released, Byrnes would be cheaper than signing Johnson for $2-3 million, wouldn't he?

most likely, especially since byrnes already has a large paycheck coming no matter what. he doesn't have to hustle for much besides a team that could let him see the most ABs or trying to end up somewhere he wants to play at the expense of ABs.

yeah, probably...slipped my mind. apparently he signed a 3/30M deal near end of 2007. (Holy shit!) owed $11M in 2010.

Unthrilled about the idea of Byrnes.

Submitted by Sweet Lou on Fri, 01/15/2010 - 3:54pm. If he's released, Byrnes would be cheaper than signing Johnson for $2-3 million, wouldn't he? ==================================== LOU: A lot cheaper. If Eric Byrnes gets released, the Cubs (or any club) can sign him for the MLB minimum ($400K), and his former club (the D'backs) is on the hook for the balance, just as happened when the Padres released Jim Edmonds a couple of years ago and the Cubs signed him for the MLB minimum, or when the Padres signed Chad Gaudin for the MLB minimum after the Cubs released him last March. The only way it costs more than the MLB minimum to sign a released player is if the player can command more as a free-agent than what he got as termination pay. This happened with Reed Johnson when he was released by the Blue Jays at the end of Spring Training 2008. Toronto only had to pay him 25% of his $3.275M 2008 salary as termination pay because the contract wasn't guaranteed and he was released prior to Opening Day. Then the Cubs signed him for $1.3M, so that Johnson made $2.1M (total) instead of $3.275M for that season, getting $800K (termination pay) from TOR and $1.3M (2008 salary) from the Cubs. The Cubs should offer the D'backs Carlos Silva in exchange for Eric Byrnes, and then the clubs could split the portion of Silva's 2011 & 2012 salary obligation that is not being paid by Seattle ($8M in 2011 and the $2M buy-out in 2012) 50/50. The Cubs would end up spending the same total money to get Byrnes for 2010 as they were going to have to pay Silva 2010-12 ($11M for Byrnes in 2010, $4M of Silva's salary in 2011, and $1M of Silva's buy-out in 2012), and the D'backs would be able to spread the $11M hit over three seasons ($6M in 2010, $4M in 2011, and $1M in 2012), instead of having to eat Byrnes $11M 2010 salary all at once, which they would have to do if he is released.

that Silva thing makes too much sense for it to happen... sigh.

Wow, this Silva-Brynes talk does sound good. Just getting Silva off the 2011-12 roster would be part of the benefit. That said, if the Diamondbacks are looking at cutting Brynes despite being on the hook for his salary, they must also value roster spots like there's only 25 of them. Even if we need to pay more than 1/2 of the split Phil mentions, it might be worth it. If it can't be worked out, maybe we can arrange for Silva to do some gardening for the Urbinas. don't have Insider, but supposedly the most feared hitter by good pitchers...

all 3'6" of him...he should be embarrassed he lists at 6'2"...

He was on WSCR today said he has "dropped 35-40 lbs". Diet ganch?

Right-size smoothies?

Baked munchies instead of deep-fried munchies?


Padres trade Kevin Kouzmanoff to A's for Scott Hairston (former Padre) and Aaron Cunningham.

wow...padres made out pretty good there.

all 8 Cubs filed today, although certainly some if not all will agree to deals before their hearing. for not paying rent...stay classy Milton.

all Cubs convention talk, but anything on how Sheets looked?

I don't think Sheets throws until Tuesday. Is that what you meant?

oh, thought it was today...thanks. says Hendry tried to get him for '08

I won't lie -- I'm a little excited to see Geo and Z in such good shape. And yes, I mean sexually.

Randy Wells has some good quotes from the Convention. I like this kid: "I used to say when I got to the Blue Jays that if my career ended now, I made it," Wells said. "Now, that's not good enough for me. Why not make an All-Star team? Why not MVP? Why not win the Cy Young? That's the kind of stuff that keeps you moving forward. "I know if I have a bad spring, I could be out of a rotation spot," he said. "You've go to keep it real. People who lose focus of that are the ones who struggle. I'm not taking anything for granted." He did take some time off this winter to travel, see friends. Wells joked that he took the "Rocky" approach this offseason and just threw the ball as hard as he could into a net to get ready for 2010. "Everybody talks about the sophomore slump that people go through," Wells said. "I don't believe in it. I was a guy who spent seven, eight years in the Minor Leagues and I got the opportunity and I caught a shooting star and I grabbed hold of it and I'm not letting go. "I'm [ticked] I didn't win 15, 16, 17 games last year," he said. "Instead of 12, I'm going to try to win 15, 16, 17, 18 games this year. It's just the way I am. I don't ever get complacent. I want to be better. I want to pitch 10 years. I'm not going to go in there and say, 'Hey, I had a heckuva rookie year and I'm going to sit here and look pretty on the bench.'"

Sounds like a Greg Maddux quote to me. --- "I'm [ticked] I didn't win 15, 16, 17 games last year," he said. "Instead of 12, I'm going to try to win 15, 16, 17, 18 games this year. It's just the way I am. I don't ever get complacent. I want to be better. I want to pitch 10 years. I'm not going to go in there and say, 'Hey, I had a heckuva rookie year and I'm going to sit here and look pretty on the bench.'"