October 2011

10/24 Cubs-Red Sox deadline set

After Theo Epstein is introduced in Chicago Tuesday as president of baseball operations, he will get to work on a deal for himself. The Cubs and Red Sox were unable to determine compensation for Epstein, who is leaving Boston after nearly 10 years. Those talks were put on hold after Epstein resigned as Boston’s GM on Friday. If the Cubs and Red Sox cannot determine compensation, MLB commissioner Bud Selig said Sunday that he would intervene.

“They have until Nov. 1 — Theo and Ben [Cherington] and all the parties involved,” Selig told Comcast SportsNet New England prior to Game 4 of the World Series in Arlington, Texas. “Hopefully, they can get things done. I always encourage clubs to try to get things done between themselves. Somehow, the commissioner has enough things of controversy [to deal with].

“They’ll either get it done or they won’t,” Selig said. “If they don’t, then I will.”

Cherington will be named Epstein’s successor at a news conference on Tuesday at Fenway Park.

— Carrie Muskat


10/23 Mesa’s Robert Brinton dead at 60

Robert Brinton, a key force in keeping the Cubs in Arizona, died unexpectedly on Friday. A past Cactus League Association president, Brinton was not feeling well in his office at the Mesa Convention and Visitors Bureau. Mesa Mayor Scott Smith said when Brinton failed to return from the restroom, another employee found him slumped over. He was 60.

“I was just absolutely stunned,” Smith told the Arizona Republic. “I lost a friend, a co-worker, a giant.”

Brinton and Smith partnered to save the Cubs from a potential move to Naples, Fla. The two men campaigned together for approval of a Mesa ballot measure that approved financing for a new Cubs Spring Training complex at the present site of Riverview Golf Course, near the interchange of Loops 101 and 202 in west Mesa.

“Everything he did was for the love of his community and people,” Smith said. “He gave selflessly because he believed in it. He was that kind of person.”

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said in a statement that Brinton helped persuade him to keep the Cubs in Arizona after he bought the team in 2009.

“Robert was as passionate a Cubs fan as there ever was,” Ricketts said in a statement. “His love for baseball helped fuel the success of the Cactus League through more than five decades. His leadership this past year is a big part of the reason our team is staying in Mesa, and his legacy to future generations will be evident each spring as the Cubs take the field. He was a true friend and we will miss him dearly.”

Former Arizona Diamondbacks GM Joe Garagiola Jr. said Brinton’s respectful manner and credibility helped persuade the Cubs to stay in Mesa in 1989, when the league had eight teams and was endangered. He said the Cubs were listening to Florida politicians, who were hoping to lure the remaining teams to their state.

“The debt that the Cactus League owes Robert Brinton is immeasurable,” Garagiola said. “Everyone who knew him has a hole in their heart today.”

Brinton served as president of the Cactus League Association for two years, but he was a board member for 20 years. He also was executive director of the Mesa Convention and Visitors Bureau and the past president of the Mesa HoHoKams, a civic group that performs many functions at Hohokam Stadium during games.

Under Brinton’s leadership and through his tireless efforts, “the Cactus League exploded into a 15-team league that rivals the Super Bowl in economic importance,” said Dave Dunne, the league’s treasurer and manager of Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the spring home of the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Colorado Rockies. The Cactus League drew more than 1.5 million fans this year and had an estimated economic impact of $360 million.

Dunne said Brinton was “this generation’s Dwight Patterson,” the hotelier who helped found the Cactus League by luring the Cubs to Mesa in 1952.

“Heaven’s baseball team just added another player,” said Mark Gallo, current HoHoKam stadium manager. “I loved the man.”

Brinton is survived by his wife, Nannette, and seven adult children. Services are pending.

— Carrie Muskat

10/23 King Albert

Cubs fans had every reason to cringe watching Albert Pujols hit three homers in Game 3 of the World Series on Saturday. He’s done that four times in his career in the regular season, and twice against the Cubs. On July 20, 2004, Pujols connected off Glendon Rusch in the third, Kyle Farnsworth in the seventh, and LaTroy Hawkins in the ninth in an 11-8 St. Louis victory at Wrigley Field. On May 30, 2010, Pujols did it again, hitting two off Ryan Dempster and another off John Grabow in the Cardinals’ 9-1 win at Wrigley.

— Carrie Muskat

10/23 Theo says goodbye to Red Sox nation

Theo Epstein, who will be introduced Tuesday as the Cubs’ president of baseball operations, took out a full-page ad in Sunday’s Boston Globe to say goodbye to Red Sox Nation. Here’s the text:

10 Years
Two Championships
Countless Memories
Infinite Thanks

Dear Red Sox Nation:

Thank you.

It’s been a privilege to be a part of the Red Sox for the last decade and an honor to work alongside some of the most talented and dedicated people in baseball. I’m proud of all we accomplished together.

Thank you to our ownership group. John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino and their partners have a commitment to excellence that permeates through all levels of the organization, and I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity they gave me and for their unwavering dedication to winning.

Thank you to Ben Cherington and the incredibly hard-working and talented people in our baseball operations group, and to everyone in the Red Sox front office. Working together has been an amazing experience, and our friendships will last a lifetime.

Thank you to the players, the coaches, and to Tito for their tireless effort and for redefining what it means to wear the Red Sox uniform.

Thank you to the Fenway faithful. You’ve been the driving force behind two World Championships, six playoff appearances, more than 700 consecutive sell-outs and some of the most dramatic moments in sports.

And most of all, thank you for supporting something much more important than any game: investment in the lives of thousands of Greater Boston kids. Your generosity has enabled the Foundation To Be Named Later to provide $5 million in grants to young people in need, fund 19 college scholarships, and host 3,200 children to Red Sox and Celtics games.

The Foundation will continue its efforts and I look forward to seeing you at Hot Stove Cool Music at the Paradise in January.

Thank you for all 10 incredible years. Go Sox.


Theo Epstein


— Carrie Muskat

10/23 AFL & winter ball update

Junior Lake went 4-for-5 with three RBIs and a stolen base in Mesa’s 9-2 win over Salt River on Saturday in Arizona Fall League play. The shortstop hit a one-out single in the first, and a two-out single in the second. Lake hit a RBI double in the fourth and led off the eighth with another single. He now has hit in nine straight games and driven in a run in six of his last seven. This season, he hit .278 with 12 homers, 51 RBIs and 38 steals in 116 games between Class A Daytona and Double-A Tennessee. Marcus Hatley and Chris Carpenter each pitched one scoreless inning in relief. Josh Vitters started in right field and went 1-for-5, and was batting .375 overall, while DJ LeMahieu was 0-for-3. After an off day Sunday, Mesa plays host to Surprise at HoHoKam Park on Monday. First pitch is 12:35 p.m. MT.

* Bryan LaHair was 0-for-5 on Saturday, only the second time he’s gone hitless in nine games for Magallanes in Venezuelan Winter Ball. LaHair played first base and right field and was batting .314 so far. On Sunday, Magallanes plays at Aragua.

— Carrie Muskat

10/22 AFL & winter ball updates

DJ LeMahieu had two hits and two RBIs and Junior Lake was 2-for-4 with a stolen base, his 10th, in Mesa’s 5-1 win Friday over Phoenix. Lake added a RBI single in the fifth and scored on LeMahieu’s double to open a 5-0 lead. On Saturday, Mesa travels to Scottsdale to play Salt River. First pitch scheduled for 12:35 p.m. MT.

* Bryan LaHair was 1-for-2 and scored a run in Magallanes’ 5-0 win over Lara in Venezuela. LaHair is batting .367. Former Cubs pitcher Jerome Williams gave up five hits and walked five over five innings but did not give up a run and got the win.

* Team USA will face Mexico Saturday in the Pan American games, played in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico. So far, the U.S. squad has beaten the Dominican Republic, 20-2, and Panama, 11-0, in seven innings. Saturday’s game will decide which teams advance to the semifinals and also the seeding. Cubs outfielder Brett Jackson, who came out of a World Cup game last week with a minor foot injury, has not played.

— Carrie Muskat

10/21 Theo to Cubs

A new era begins on Tuesday when Theo Epstein takes over as the president of baseball operations for the Cubs. Here’s the statement from the Cubs:

“The Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs jointly announce this evening that, effective immediately, Theo Epstein has resigned from the Red Sox in order to become the new President of Baseball Operations for the Cubs.  The Clubs also have reached an agreement regarding a process by which appropriate compensation will be determined for the Red Sox and that issue will be resolved in the near term.”

Both the Red Sox and Cubs will hold news conferences on Tuesday, a travel day for the World Series. At that time, the Cubs will introduce Epstein, and the Red Sox will introduce their new GM, expected to be Ben Cherington.

Multiple reports have Epstein hiring Jed Hoyer, currently the Padres’ general manager, to become the Cubs’ GM.  Epstein also was expected to add Padres assistant general manager Jason McLeod to the Cubs staff, according to multiple reports. McLeod was the director of amateur scouting in Boston with Epstein. Among the players he picked in the First-Year Player Draft were Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Clay Buchholtz, Daniel Bard, and Justin Masterson.

What will Epstein do? Will he keep manager Mike Quade and his staff? Which players will stay? That’s all to be determined in the coming weeks. What is known is that Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts found someone to head baseball operations who fulfilled his criteria. Epstein comes from a winning organization and believes in player development. And, he’s dealt with expectations.

— Carrie Muskat


10/21 Winter league update

Cubs prospect Marwin Gonzalez had three hits and one RBI for Caracas in a 3-1 win over Margarita in Venezuelan Winter  League play. Gonzalez was batting .323. By the way, Bryan LaHair did not play Thursday — so no home runs. His Magallanes team faces Lara on Friday.

— Carrie Muskat

10/20 Selig may step in re: Theo talks

MLB commissioner Bud Selig said Thursday he may step in to help resolve the negotiations between the Cubs and Red Sox regarding compensation for Theo Epstein. Speaking on SiriusXM’s Mad Dog Radio prior to Game 2 of the World Series, Selig was asked if he expected to act as arbitrator between the Cubs and Red Sox. Said Selig: “It is a possibility.  No question, it is a possibility.”

— Carrie Muskat


10/20 AFL update – Thursday’s game

Josh Vitters was 1-for-3 and scored a run in Mesa’s 4-1 win over Scottsdale in Arizona Fall League play on Thursday. Vitters, who was the DH, is batting .395 in the AFL. He was the only Cubs prospect who played Thursday. On Friday, Mesa plays host to Phoenix at HoHoKam Park. Expect Andrew Cashner to see some action.

— Carrie Muskat