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10/14 AFL update – Monday’s game

Addison Russell was 1-for-3 and Dan Vogelbach and Jacob Hannemann a combined 0-for-8 in the Mesa Solar Sox’s 2-1 loss to Scottsdale Scorpions on Monday in Arizona Fall League play. The Solar Sox are 1-4 so far in AFL play, and face the Scorpions Tuesday in Mesa.

10/12 AFL update

Cubs prospect Bijan Rademacher went 1-for-3 in Mesa’s 6-3 win over Peoria in Arizona Fall League play. Jacob Hannemann started as DH and was 0-for-3 in the game. Ivan Pineyro picked up a hold, giving up two hits and walking two over 1 1/3 innings in relief. Sunday is a day off for the AFL, and play will resume Monday with the Solar Sox facing the Scottsdale Scorpions.

10/12 Project 1060

On Saturday, the Cubs officially celebrated the start of the Wrigley Field renovation project. The Ricketts family, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, Kerry Wood and city and state officials, community and corporate partners took part in the ceremony, now titled The 1060 Project.

The four-year plan includes structural updates; improved player facilities; new signage, including video boards in left and right field; expanded concessions; new and improved restroom facilities and more. It will be done in four separate phases. The privately funded $575 million project will create approximately 2,100 jobs and generate $1.2 billion in net new revenue to the local economy over the next 30 years.

The team’s primary focus in the first phase is infrastructure work. The ballpark’s structural steel and foundation will be strengthened, while much of the concrete in the Budweiser Bleachers will be replaced. The first phase also includes the expansion and improvement of the left- and right-field bleachers, which will provide more room for fans in the concourse, additional concession areas and new group terraces.

Several new outfield signs will be added, including a 3,990-square-foot video board in left field and a 2,225-square-foot video board in right field.

Subsequent phases will address improvement and expansion of player facilities; new bullpens and batting tunnels; new restrooms, concessions, seats, luxury suites, clubs, restaurants, retail and entertainment spaces for fans; additional commissary space for food preparation; and an improved press box.

For additional information about The 1060 Project, go to

10/11 Cubs payroll

Theo Epstein was asked Friday about the Cubs 2015 payroll. He didn’t expect a huge spike next year.

“We haven’t reached that next level yet where the payroll is going to significantly increase,” Epstein told reporters. “The TV deal is really the magic bullet, the paradigm-shifter that’s going to put us in a whole new level. And then some of the improvements to Wrigley over time will certainly move the needle. But for right now, we have all the payroll flexibility we need at this moment for 2015.”

The Cubs 2014 payroll was nearly $93 million, the first time since 2007 it was under $100 million. That included $14 million paid to Alfonso Soriano, which is no longer on the books. As of today, the Cubs have $31.160 million committed to five players next year (Edwin Jackson, Starlin Castro, Jorge Soler, Anthony Rizzo, Ryan Sweeney). They have 11 arb eligible players: Travis Wood, Justin Ruggiano, Luis Valbuena, Wesley Wright, Pedro Strop, James McDonald, John Baker, Chris Coghlan, Felix Doubront, Jake Arrieta and Welington Castillo.

10/11 Wrigley Field groundbreaking

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, MLB commissioner Bud Selig and other dignitaries attended the official groundbreaking of Wrigley Field on Saturday. Fans can follow the $575 million renovation at

10/11 AFL update – Friday’s game

C.J. Edwards gave up one run on three hits and one walk over two innings, striking out one in the Mesa Solar Sox’s 14-3 loss to Surprise in Arizona Fall League play Friday night in Mesa. Edwards threw 39 pitches, 25 strikes in his first AFL outing. Zach Cates gave up one run over two innings and Gerardo Concepcion was charged with two runs on three hits and two walks in 1 1/3 innings. Dan Vogelbach was 1-for-4 for the Solar Sox, who play host to the Peoria Javelinas at Cubs Park on Saturday at 6:35 p.m. MT.

10/10 Cubs update

On Friday, Theo Epstein and Crane Kenney met with Cubs season ticket holders at the Oriental Theater in downtown Chicago to discuss the 2014 season and look ahead to 2015. Here are some key points from the session:

* Kenney, president of business operations, said the team is in “extra innings” in terms of its television contract negotiations, adding that a number of potential partnerships have emerged. The Cubs’ agreement with WGN-TV ended with the 2014 season, which ended a relationship dating to 1948. The move now allows the team to get its broadcast and cable rights in sync. The Cubs have a contract with Comcast SportNet Chicago that runs through 2019.

A television deal is a significant revenue source. The Dodgers, for example, launched their own cable network this year, and are earning $8.35 billion over 25 years.

* The $575 million Wrigley Field renovations are underway, with the official groundbreaking scheduled for Saturday. The first phase involves the bleachers, and extending the outer walls of the ballpark to the curb of the current sidewalk along Waveland and Sheffield avenues to accomodate 300 additional seats in left field, 300 in right, and 300 standing room seats in the bleacher deck. Kenney said the changes will allow the team to install a 4,000-square foot video scoreboard in left and a 2,400-square foot video scoreboard in right field, as well as five other advertising signs.

“We’re not planning any ‘Kiss Cams’ or wild dance contests,” Kenney said of the video scoreboards, but they will show real time statistics, replays, historical highlights in response to fan surveys.

* During a Q&A, a fan wondered if the Cubs could buy all of the buildings around Wrigley Field to eliminate any conflicts with rooftop owners, and Kenney said it’s not feasible. Rooftop owners make $25 million a year from their businesses and “they don’t pay for the talent,” he said.

* The only boos from the crowd came whenever pitcher Edwin Jackson’s name was mentioned, and Epstein admitted it was “tough to watch” the right-hander struggle for the second straight season. Jackson will “have to make dramatic improvements to have a role on the team” next year and knows that,” Epstein said.

* Epstein said Kris Bryant, the 2014 Minor League Player of the Year by and others, is in a position “to impact our 2015 season.” However, that doesn’t mean the third baseman is the Opening Day starter.

* Epstein said they have done “five to six years of work in three seasons” in restocking the farm system through the First-Year Player Draft, international signings and trades. He cautioned that the young talent still needs time to develop and there will be hiccups, but the players have taken a big step.

“I think it’s clear we have enough talent to compete,” Epstein said. “Do we have enough talent to win? That’s the beauty of baseball. You don’t know until you try. This is the first time we’ve had enough talent to compete. I believe when you’re competing, you have to set your sights high.”

* The Cubs plan to add impact starting pitching over the next 15 months, Epstein said, which means it could be this offseason or at the 2015 Trade Deadline or after next season. Is he wary watching top talent like Jon Lester and Max Scherzer, both free agents, who did not fare well in the postseason?

“This time of year is dangerous because we always take the small sample size events and create majestic narratives about what it means to build a winning team and a landscape in general,” Epstein said. “We’re not going to go out and lead the league in stolen bases next year because of the Royals. … We know that buying top of the rotation starters in free agency, those haven’t been the signings that bring the best return in investment.”

– Carrie Muskat

10/10 AFL update

Cubs prospect Jacob Hannemann, a third-round pick in the 2013 Draft, hit a double and drew a walk in the Mesa Solar Sox’s 7-3 loss to Salt River Thursday in Arizona Fall League play. Other Cubs prospects Addison Russell and Dan Vogelbach were a combined 0-for-6 (Vogelbach did draw three walks). On Friday, the Solar Sox play host to the Surprise Saguaros at Cubs Park in Mesa. First pitch was scheduled for 6:35 p.m. MT, and Cubs prospect C.J. Edwards was scheduled to start. Edwards is ranked fifth on the list of top 20 Cubs prospects.

For more AFL information, please go to the league website.

10/9 Mallee named hitting coach; Dascenzo back

The Cubs completed manager Rick Renteria’s staff on Thursday, naming John Mallee as hitting coach and Doug Dascenzo as first base/outfield coach. Eric Hinske moves to assistant hitting coach.

Dascenzo, 50, returns to the organization that drafted him in 1985 and for whom he played five big league seasons from 1988-92. He served as the third base coach for the Braves in 2014, his first as a coach at the big league level. Prior to joining the Braves in 2013 as a minor league outfield/baserunning instructor, he spent 13 seasons as a manager or coach in the Padres system. Dascenzo spent seven years in the big leagues as an outfielder and has spent the last 16 years as a coach or instructor starting in 1999.

Mallee, 45, begins his fifth season as a major league hitting coach, his first with the Cubs. He previously served as a big league hitting coach with the Marlins (2010-11) and Astros (2013-14). Overall, Mallee has 19 seasons of experience in pro baseball. Prior to moving to the big leagues, he spent eight-plus seasons as the Marlins minor league hitting instructor. A Chicago native, Mallee also served as a minor league hitting coach within the Brewers and Expos organizations starting in 1996. He spent two seasons as an infielder in the Phillies system from 1991-92.

Hinske, 37, shifts to assistant hitting coach after joining the Cubs staff as first base/outfield coach for the 2014 campaign. His 12-year major league career (2002-13) included 2002 American League Rookie of the Year honors with Toronto and three-straight World Series appearances bookended by championships with Boston in 2007 and the New York Yankees in 2009. Hinske was originally selected by the Cubs in the 17th round of the 1998 Draft.

10/8 Cubs in market for new hitting coach

With Bill Mueller’s resignation, the Cubs are once again searching for a new hitting coach. Whoever is hired will be the team’s fourth hitting coach in the last six years following Rudy Jaramillo (2010-12); James Rowson (2012-13), and Mueller (2013). Here are some names to keep an eye on:

* John Mallee: He interviewed with the Cubs for the hitting coach job last season, but instead was hired by the Astros. His status is unclear after the Astros named A.J. Hinch as their new manager. Mallee (pronounced MAY-lee) is a Chicago native. He also is friends with Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde as Mallee was the Marlins hitting coach after spending nine seasons in that organization as the Minor League hitting coordinator.

* Dave Magadan: This was Magadan’s second season with the Rangers as their hitting coach. He also held that job with the Red sox from 2007-12, and the Padres from 2003-June 2006. At the time he was fired from the Padres job, San Diego ranked next to last in on-base percentage and slugging percentage in the NL behind the Cubs. He was the Red Sox hitting coach when Boston won the 2007 World Series and Theo Epstein was GM. Magadan’s job also is in jeopardy with Texas searching for a new manager. He has a brief Cubs connection, having played for the team in 1996, and batting .254 in an injury filled season. He also is Lou Piniella’s cousin.

* Chili Davis: A three-time All-Star who played 19 seasons in the big leagues, Davis was the Red Sox’s Triple-A Hitting coach in 2011, which was Theo Epstein’s last year as Boston’s GM. He has been the A’s hitting coach since 2012.

* Kevin Long: The 2014 season was Long’s eighth with the Yankees, and a tough one. The Yankees have led MLB in runs scored in three of his seven seasons, and finished second twice. The 2012 team set a franchise record with 245 home runs, most in the Majors. This season, the Yankees were 14th in on-base percentage, 11th in batting average, and 10th in slugging percentage in the AL. All of the Yankees coaches are being “evaluated,” manager Joe Girardi said.

* Scott Coolbaugh: He was the Rangers hitting coach from June 2011 through the 2012 season, and was a Minor League hitting coach in 2002, and again from 2007-13, taking charge of Triple-A Round Rock from 2009-11. He’s been the Rangers’ Minor League hitting coordinator for the last two seasons.

– Carrie Muskat


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