December 2011

12/17 Winter league update

Austin Bibens-Dirkx gave up one unearned run on six hits over seven innings and struck out five in Zulia’s 9-1 win over Aragua in Dominican Winter League play. With the win, Bibens-Dirkx improved to 6-2, and he has a 2.20 ERA.

– Carrie Muskat

12/16 Cubs reportedly considering Maholm

The Cubs are reportedly talking to lefty Paul Maholm’s agent. ESPN.com reported the interest on Friday. Maholm, 29, became a free agent after the Pirates declined to pick up the $9.75 million option on the pitcher’s contract for 2012. A ground ball pitcher, he would be a good fit at Wrigley Field, where Maholm has a career 6-2 record in 11 starts.

– Carrie Muskat

12/16 Sveum on Prince: “It’s the media talking”

Cubs manager Dale Sveum hasn’t been asked to recruit free agent Prince Fielder and denied that the team was involved in the free agent slugger.

“At this point, I think it’s a lot of media talking more than us doing anything,” Sveum said Friday. “We haven’t had any talks with Prince and I haven’t had any conversations with him. It’s more the media and other people bringing this to the table than what we’re doing. We haven’t initiated any kind of contact at all. That’s the media bringing it out right now.”

– Carrie Muskat

12/16 Cubs announce coaching staff

Bench coach Jamie Quirk, pitching coach Chris Bosio and former Cardinals first base coach Dave McKay will join Cubs manager Dale Sveum’s coaching staff, the team announced Friday. Quirk, Bosio and McKay will join hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, third base coach Pat Listach and bullpen coach Lester Strode, who are holdovers from Mike Quade’s staff. Quade was dismissed after a 71-91 season, and Sveum was named the Cubs’ 52nd manager on Nov. 18.

Mike Borzello and Franklin Font also will serve as Major League staff assistants. Borzello will work with the catchers and be involved in advanced scouting while Font, who was the Cubs’ Minor League infield coordinator, will assist Jaramillo.

Bosio, 48, begins his third stint as a big league pitching coach, previously coaching in the Majors for the Rays in 2003 and the Brewers in 2009. He became the Brewers advance scout following the 2009 season and remained in that role until being named pitching coach for Triple-A Nashville in 201.

Quirk, 57, joins the Cubs with 18 years of Major League coaching experience with three organizations, including 12 seasons as a big league bench coach with the Royals (1996-2001) and Rockies (2003-08). The former big league catcher played for eight teams during his 18-year Major League career (1975-92) and was a member of the 1985 World Champion Royals.  Overall, Quirk batted .240 with 43 home runs and 247 RBI in 984 big league games.

McKay, 61, joins the Cubs after spending the last 16 seasons as the Cardinals’ first base coach. The 2012 season will be McKay’s 27th season as a big league coach. He has been a member of three World Champion staffs: 1989 in Oakland as well as 2006 and 2011 in St. Louis.  

Jaramillo, 61, enters his third season with the Cubs, and 18th straight at the Major League level as a hitting coach. Listach, 44, was Quade’s bench coach last season, while Strode, 53, enters his 24th season in the Cubs organization and sixth at the Major League level on the coaching staff.

Borzello, 41, joins the Cubs with 16 years of experience with Major League clubs. He spent the last four seasons with the Dodgers as their bullpen catcher, a stint that followed 12 years in the Yankees organization starting in 1996.

Font, 34, returns for his 18th season in the Cubs organization, his first at the Major League level. He spent the last three years as the Cubs Minor League infield coordinator. 

– Carrie Muskat 

12/16 Kerry Wood fundraiser Jan. 13

Kerry Wood will kick off the Cubs Convention with “Woody’s Winter Warm-Up,” a celebrity mixer, on Jan. 13 from 8:30-11:30 p.m. CT at Harry Caray’s Tavern on Navy Pier.  Wood will be joined by friends, teammates and baseball legends behind the bar to serve drinks and food to fans — and compete for tips — to raise money for the Wood Family Foundation.  Players who will take part include Marlon Byrd, Matt Garza, Sean Marshall, Andrew Cashner, Geovany Soto, Starlin Castro, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Welington Castillo, Darwin Barney, James Russell and legends Ernie Banks & Rick Sutcliffe. The event will include “meet and greet” opportunities with Cubs players, a premium open bar, a dinner buffet, auction and raffle. All  proceeds benefit the foundation. Plus, there will also be a special acoustic performance by the Plain White T’s.

Tickets are $150 per person, or fans can reserve a booth for four people for $1,000, which includes tableside cocktail service.   Parking is available for $10 after 5 p.m. CT at the Navy Pier Garage.  For additional information or ticket sales, visit www.woodfamilyfoundation.org.

– Carrie Muskat

12/16 More Fielder talk

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal says it’s down to the Cubs vs. the Mariners for free agent Prince Fielder. Rosenthal says sources tell him the Cubs don’t want to give Fielder a 10-year contract but may try to lure the slugger with a six- or seven-year deal. A friend of Fielder’s told Rosenthal that the first baseman is “not in a rush” to settle on a new team. More rumors expected soon.

– Carrie Muskat

12/16 Winter league update

Bryan LaHair was 2-for-3, hitting a solo homer and RBI double, and drew three walks in Magallanes’ 10-9 12-inning victory Thursday over Zulia in Venezuelan Winter League play. LaHair led off the second with his ninth homer, then walked in the fourth, walked in the sixth, hit a RBI double in the seventh, and was intentionally walked in the ninth. He flew out in the 11th.

– Carrie Muskat

12/15 Could Prince join Cubs?

New Cubs manager Dale Sveum has made it no secret about how much he likes Prince Fielder. Could the free agent slugger come to Chicago? Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com and Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com both think the Cubs are in the mix in the bidding for Fielder. However, Fielder, 27, and his agent, Scott Boras, are reportedly looking for a 10-year deal close to the $254 million that Albert Pujols received. That kind of contract does not appear to fit what Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have said they want to do in Chicago. The Blue Jays and Mariners also are reportedly interested in Fielder. He’s a career .282 hitter, and has averaged 38 homers over the last six years. Fielder has a .298 average at Wrigley Field with 11 home runs and 15 doubles.

The Cubs’ obligations payroll-wise beyond 2012 include $38 million for two more years to Alfonso Soriano and $9.8 million owed Carlos Marmol in 2013. If the Cubs could get Fielder to defer money the way in the first year of his deal the Brewers did with Aramis Ramirez’s contract, it would might be possible. Should the Cubs sign Fielder? What do you think?

– Carrie Muskat

12/14 Zambrano starts for Caribes

Carlos Zambrano, making his first start since taking a line drive off his face, threw four shutout innings Wednesday night for Caribes de Anzoategui. Zambrano, who was injured Nov. 18 and needed 16 stitches, walked one and struck out one in a Venezuelan Winter League game against Tigres de Aragua. He faced 13 batters, and got eight groundouts.

– Carrie Muskat

12/13 Zambrano is a hit

Carlos Zambrano tuned up for the regular season by taking part in a home run derby in Caracas, Venezuela, on Monday night. Seattle Minor Leaguer Luis Jimenez won the event. Zambrano did connect, but did not qualify for the second round. As for his pitching, Zambrano may be back on the mound Wednesday for Caribes to make his fourth start in the Venezuelan Winter League. He has not pitched since Nov. 18 when he took a line drive off his face that required 16 stitches.

Zambrano told Joiner Martinez at Lider en Deportes: “I’m preparing like when I was a rookie, climbing mountains, running on the beach, and exercising hard so that I can arrive at Spring Training in optimal shape. I want to stay in Chicago for two seasons I still have with the team. I’m not a coward who would take the back door out of the Majors.”

– Carrie Muskat

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