December 2009

12/16 Spring training update

The city of Mesa is rushing to install $750,000 worth of new batting cages at the Cubs’ Fitch Park facility in time for Spring Training. The City Council will consider the bids to build the cages on Thursday. It delayed a vote Monday after councilman Dave Richins objected to how quickly the city was trying to get a deal done, according to the East Valley (Ariz.) Tribune.

City manager Chris Brady said Cubs officials were talking to city about improving the batting cages before the Ricketts family took over the team in late October. The batting cages are not tied to negotiations over the team’s Spring Training plans.

“Hopefully, it continues to demonstrate our ongoing relationship,” Brady told the Tribune.

Meanwhile, Naples, Fla., community leaders gathered Monday night to officially launch “Project Home Run,” which is their bid to lure the Cubs to the Sunshine State. About 70 to 80 people attended a private gathering at the home of Craig Bouchard, vice chairman of Esmark Inc.

“This was the first step towards taking our private transaction into the public forum,” Bouchard told the Fort Myers (Fla.) News-Press.

Cubs president Crane Kenney said he expects an announcement regarding the team’s future Spring Training headquarters next month.

— Carrie Muskat

12/14 Santo signs 3-year extension

Ron Santo has reportedly signed a three-year extension with WGN Radio to do the color commentary, and the contract will allow him to take time off as needed for health reasons. The Chicago Sun-Times reported the new deal. Santo has diabetes and has had both legs amputated because of the disease.

— Carrie Muskat

12/14 Center field options

Looks like the Cubs’ pool of free agent center fielders is going to lose one. Reports have Mike Cameron close to signing a two-year deal with the Red Sox for $15.5 million. That’s more than the Cubs wanted to spend both in terms of length of contract and money. The other options for center include Marlon Byrd, Scott Podsednik and Rick Ankiel.

— Carrie Muskat

12/14 Winter ball update

Brad Snyder went 2-for-4, including a triple, and drove in two runs for Mexicali on Sunday. The outfielder was batting .380 with eight homers and 47 RBIs in 52 games in the Mexican League. Snyder batted .278 at Triple-A Iowa this season.

Matt Camp went 1-for-5 and was batting .336 in 53 games. Jeff Stevens walked two and gave up two runs in one-third of an inning for Mexicali. In 12 games, the right-hander has a 4.61 ERA. He has walked eight and given up nine hits over 13 2/3 innings. Jim Adduci was playing for Hermosillo, and batting .224 in 20 games.

In Venezuela, catcher Robinson Chirinos went 2-for-4 Sunday for Magallanes. He was batting .338 in 43 games with eight homers and 26 RBIs. The Cubs were worried they would lose Chirinos in the Rule 5 Draft.

Andres Blanco has apparently finished his Winter Ball stint, batting .294 in 35 games for Magallanes. His last game was Dec. 4.

— Carrie Muskat


12/14 Naples update

So far, Naples’ efforts to lure the Cubs to Florida for Spring Training has been a private venture. On Monday, Fifth Avenue Advisors and Esmark Inc., the two companies behind the effort, will host an invitation only reception in Naples in an attempt to get some members of the Collier County community involved.

“We’re transitioning from a private company to a community effort,” Gary Price, a partner in Naples-based Fifth Avenue Advisors told the Naples Daily News. “This is the kickoff for that.”

Neither Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts nor team president Crane Kenney will attend.

Price says the Cubs moving to Florida is still a longshot. “There has absolutely been no commitment from the Cubs that they are leaving Arizona to come to Florida,” Price said. “I think we continue to be a long shot, but every step becomes a better opportunity.”

Ricketts and Kenney have visited the Naples area, and met with Florida Gov. Charlie Crist in Tallahassee to discuss moving the Cubs from Mesa, Ariz., to the Sunshine State.

Price told the Naples Daily News his team expects to make a presentation to the Cubs in the next 60 days. Earlier this month, Kenney told Chicago reporters he expects an announcement in January.

— Carrie Muskat

12/13 Cubs consider Capps

The Pirates’ decision to not tender closer Matt Capps could benefit the Cubs. Capps is now a free agent and his rep, Paul Kinzer, told the Chicago Tribune that the right-hander is interested in the Cubs. Chicago does have Carlos Marmol as its closer but Capps could be the experienced right-handed set-up pitcher the Cubs are looking for. He made $2.4 million last season and the Pirates did not tender him because they felt Capps would receive a significant pay increase in arbitration.

— Carrie Muskat

12/12 Bradley & the Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays signed free agent reliever Rafael Soriano for $7.25 million, which pushes the team to the max salary-wise. What does that have to do with the Cubs? It could affect whether the Cubs can deal Milton Bradley to the Rays for Pat Burrell. Both Bradley and Burrell will make $9 million next season. But Bradley is owed $13 million in 2011, and that may be more than the Rays are willing to take on.

Rays executive VP Andrew Friedman wouldn’t specifically address Bradley-Burrell, but told the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times: “Our focus is on continuing to try to make this 2010 team better. It’s going to take a little bit more creativity, but our focus is still on doing that. But I think there’s definitely a chance that, for the most part, this is the team that we go into April with. That being said, five days ago, I didn’t think we’d end up with Rafael Soriano.”

The Cubs have to decide how much of Bradley’s salary they’re willing to pick up if they want to move him. And they do want to move him.

How eager do fans want to see Bradley go? Someone on Twitter urged people to send $3 to “No More Milton Bradley” to pay for his salary to help move him, and listed an address. That address was for Wrigley Field. No, it wasn’t Jim Hendry who posted the tweet.  

— Carrie Muskat


12/11 Arbitration deadline

Saturday is the deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration eligible players, and the Cubs are expected to do so for eight of the nine players who qualify. Only Neal Cotts was not expected to be tendered a contract, but the lefty will likely re-sign with the team. Cotts began the 2009 season on the Cubs’ roster but was optioned to Triple-A Iowa after 19 games. He underwent Tommy John surgery on his left elbow July 2, and has been rehabbing in Arizona.

The others who will be tendered include IF Jeff Baker, 2B Mike Fontenot, LHP Tom Gorzelanny, RHP Angel Guzman, RHP Carlos Marmol, LHP Sean Marshall, C Koyie Hill and SS Ryan Theriot.

— Carrie Muskat

12/11 Dominican trip

Want to know what it’s like to play with the Cubs in the Dominican Republic? Check out this YouTube video:

If my link attempt doesn’t work, go to YouTube and do a search for “Chicago Cubs Dreams La Romana”

Good to see Billy Williams swinging a bat. He still has a sweet swing. Ernie Banks, Carlos Marmol, Aramis Ramirez and Sean Marshall also are featured.

— Carrie Muskat

12/10 No decision yet re: Spring Training

The Cubs Thursday denied a report that the team has made up its mind about Spring Training, and is relocating to Florida. An official decision was expected next month. The team is looking at two sites near Naples, Fla., and two sites in Arizona, including one in Mesa. The city of Mesa, meanwhile, has proposed building additional batting cages at the Cubs’ Fitch Park complex at a cost of $750,000. They would be ready in time for Spring Training this year.

— Carrie Muskat