Results tagged ‘ Carlos Zambrano ’

12/5 Cubs notebook

Carlos Zambrano could pitch this weekend for Magallanes in the Venezuelan Winter League. Zambrano is healing after taking a line drive off his face that required 16 stitches. He’s made three starts in Venezuela.

* Theo Epstein says they are still adding to the front office and interviewing people at the Winter Meetings for scouting and player development positions. This time at the Hilton Anatole also gives him the chance to meet some of the staff.

“This is a good opportunity to have face to face conversations with guys I haven’t met before and haven’t worked with before,” Epstein said. “It’s a nice chance to do that instead of being in isolation at Wrigley all the time.”

* Although he did not know him well, Epstein said he was moved by the outpouring of emotion for late Cubs third baseman Ron Santo, who was elected into the Hall of Fame on Monday.

“What a beloved figure by everyone,” Epstein said. “People couldn’t be happier for him and his family and the organization and our fans. It’s long overdue and well deserved. It’s a great day for everyone’s who come across Ron Santo.”

— Carrie Muskat

12/2 Winter league update

While the Venezuelan Winter League waits for Carlos Zambrano’s return to the mound, here is an update on Cubs prospects playing this offseason:

Austin Bibens-Dirkx is 5-2 with a 2.91 ERA in nine games (eight starts) for Zulia in Venezuela. He has given up 15 earned runs on 34 hits and 14 walks over 46 1/3 innings, striking out 28. Teams were hitting .204 against the right-hander.

Jay Jackson is 2-2 with a 5.11 ERA in four games (three starts) for Leones del Caracas in Venezuela. In his last start Nov. 30, he gave up five runs (three earned) on five hits and three walks over 3 1/3 innings, striking out four.

Bryan LaHair is batting .245 in 28 games with Navegantes del Magallanes in Venezuela. He took a break in November, and in four games since his return Nov. 27, he is 2-for-15 with one home run. He has struck out 34 times in 106 at-bats. LaHair is hitting .167 against left-handed pitching.

In Mexico, Blake Parker has a 3.76 ERA in 24 games, giving up 11 runs on 21 hits and six walks over 26 1/3 innings. Teams were hitting .221 against the right-hander.

In the Dominican Republic, lefty John Gaub has a 5.63 ERA in 13 games for Leones del Escogido, giving up five runs on five hits and four walks over eight innings. He has 11 strikeouts, and teams were batting .172 against him.

Also in the Dominican, lefty Scott Maine posted a 0.90 ERA in 12 games. He gave up four runs (one earned) on five hits and five walks over 10 innings while striking out nine. Teams batted .143 against Maine, who did not give up a hit to a lefty batter (0-for-8).

— Carrie Muskat

12/1 Epstein on Winter Meetings, Z, Marshall & more

Theo Epstein, Cubs president of baseball operations, touched base on a variety of topics prior to the Winter Meetings, which begin next week in Dallas.

* As far as the new rules stated in the collective bargaining agreement regarding the Draft, Epstein said the Cubs will simply have to make sure they get the evaluations right as far as scouting players. “You have to answer the ultimate question: which player is going to have the best career?” he said.

He said the adjustments — and potential limits on what teams can spend without incurring a penalty — will not affect how they spend money on free agents. The goal is to still develop the team through scouting and player development. He said, “We just have to be better” in terms of scouting.

* What about rumors the Cubs are reportedly pursuing free agents Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder?

“I don’t think we pay too much attention to rumors,” Epstein said.

The priorities haven’t changed. Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer want to build the Cubs the right way for the long haul, mainly through scouting and player development and with the acquisition of young players. The second aspect is taking advantage of every opportunity they can.

“We’re not going to do anything to serve the second priority that disrupts the first,” he said. “If there’s a move that makes us much better in the short term but it’s at the expense of doing things the right way and building it for the long haul through a core of young players, we’re not going to make that move.”

So, keep that in mind when you hear the next rumor regarding the Cubs.

* Top priority heading into the Meetings? It’s starting pitching.

“We need starting pitching,” Epstein said. “You can’t take your chances very seriously as a club if you go into a season with not just five guys you can point to but six, seven, eight guys. You better know who your ninth starter is going to be because you’re going to need him. The numbers show you’re going to need your ninth starter through the course of the year.”

* Epstein said he enjoyed meeting the Cubs staff in the Dominican during a recent scouting trip. He would not comment on the players he saw, which included Cuban outfielders Yoenis Cespedes and Jorge Soler.

* With the addition of David DeJesus, where does that leave Brett Jackson? Epstein said he hadn’t talked to the young outfielder yet but did say Jackson is “the type of guy we want here and he’s got a bright future here.” Jackson will have to show he’s ready for the big leagues. Epstein said there has been a trend to promote players quickly from Double-A. He says Triple-A is a finishing school, and some players need to take the time there.

* Carlos Zambrano is healing after taking a line drive off his face during a start in Venezuela. There is no timetable for Zambrano’s return to pitch there, but he is expected to make another start for Caribes. Big Z needed 16 stitches to repair a cut after he was hit.

* Where does Epstein see Jeff Samardzija and Andrew Cashner — in the rotation or the bullpen? Right now, Epstein said they’ve had discussions on the two right-handers.

“I do see both guys being really valuable pieces to the picture,” said Epstein, encouraged by Cashner’s performance in the Arizona Fall League. He also noted Samardzija looked much better in the second half of the season, and added “next year is a big year to build on that.”

Don’t expect Sean Marshall to be in the rotation mix.

“If you have the best left-handed reliever in baseball, it’s hard to think about taking him out of that role,” Epstein said.

* New manager Dale Sveum’s coaching staff could be announced next week.

* Don’t expect to see Epstein in the lobby of the Hilton Anatole during the Winter Meetings.

“It’s one of the few times that all 30 clubs are actively engaged in talking trade, which is nice,” Epstein said. “There’s a perception out there that the job of a GM or club president is always on the phone with the 29 other clubs talking about trades and it really doesn’t happen that often. You have to seize those opportunities at the GM meetings, at the Winter Meetings.”

So, he can pick up the phone and walk down the hall to talk to another team.

“I’ll be honest, you’re not going to see me down there [in the lobby] much,” he said. “I tend to stay in the room. I don’t like that scene in the lobby. We’ll try to get in the same room with our scouts and management team and gauge agents and scouts.”

— Carrie Muskat

11/29 Ricketts on Wrigley, Z, the CBA & more

In September, Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said he had a hard time imagining Carlos Zambrano returning to the Cubs after the pitcher’s early exit in August. But Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein is giving Zambrano another chance to earn his way back. Ricketts said Tuesday he will defer to Epstein.

“What Theo said publicly is he’s willing to give Carlos a chance to earn his way back on the team,” Ricketts said. “It’s [Epstein’s]decision and I support it 100 percent.”

* Baseball’s new collective bargaining agreement will cap the amount of dollars a team can commit to their Draft picks. That means a team’s front office will have to be creative.

“It’ll be a strategic change for some teams who were planning to spend more than what their caps would be,” Ricketts said.

The Cubs spent $12 million on players in last June’s First-Year Player Draft. In the two previous Drafts in 2009 and 2010, they spent a total of  $8.7 million combined. Did Ricketts see the changes coming?

“People knew this was an issue that would be discussed in the CBA,” he said Tuesday. “I was personally surprised at how far it went. I thought there might be some changes, but I wasn’t sure how far it would go. It’s a big shift, a bigger shift than I expected. We knew it was a possibility that something like this would come in.”

Will it change how the Cubs select players? Ricketts deferred to Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer on how their resources are allocated.

* Ricketts is talking to city officials on what they can do to get rennovations done at Wrigley Field. It’s unlikely they’ll have everything done by 2014, the ballpark’s 100th anniversary.

“There’s nothing concrete at this point — no pun intended,” Ricketts said.

* Ricketts met new manager Dale Sveum in Milwaukee during the GM Meetings and had a couple beers with him before he was hired.

“There was no litmus test kind of question that I wanted to hear,” Ricketts said. “I would be supportive of the decision of the baseball guys. I thought it would be good to sit down and talk to him and get to know him and I was very impressed.”

* The Cubs once again passed over Ryne Sandberg for the manager’s job, but Ricketts said the Hall of Fame second baseman will “always be a part of the Cubs family.”

* On Monday, the Cubs and family of late broadcaster and third baseman Ron Santo will find out if he’s going into the Hall of Fame.

“Obviously, Ron belongs in the Hall of Fame,” Ricketts said. “We’re doing what we can to get that message out to people who have the power to make that decision and we’re hopeful they’ll see it that way this weekend.”

* The Cubs hope for groundbreaking early next year on the new Spring Training facility in Mesa, Ariz.

* There is talk of the Cubs rebuilding. Usually that means going with youth. Can they win next year?

“Of course, we can win in 2012,” Ricketts said. “Like I said [at the end of the season], you get 25 guys playing hard, working together, and stay healthy, baseball tells you anything can happen when you get that. We’ll see how the offseason goes. I imagine we’ll be right in it next year.”

It seemed as if the honeymoon ended quickly for the Ricketts family, who took over the Cubs in October 2009. The team has finished in fifth place in back to back seasons.

“I really don’t think of it in terms of ‘Q ratings’ or honeymoons,” Ricketts said. “In the end, if we win, people will think we were good owners, and if we lose, we’re bad owners. As long as you focus on doing what you can to win, everything will fall into place.”

— Carrie Muskat

11/25 Winter ball update

Jay Jackson threw five shutout innings for Leones del Caracas in Venezuela en route to a 6-1 win Thursday over Aragua. Jackson gave up three hits, walked one and struck out five in his second start for Caracas.

Also, Carlos Zambrano is day to day as far as his next start to give him time to heal after being hit in the face by a line drive. He has made three starts for Caribes in Venezuela.

* Bryan LaHair has been replaced on Magallanes’ roster by Cubs prospect Rebel Ridling.

— Carrie Muskat

11/23 Zambrano update

Carlos Zambrano, who needed 10 stitches to fix a cut after he was hit in the face by a line drive, was not expected to pitch until next week so he has time to heal. According to a report out of Venezuela, Zambrano was to see a doctor on Friday and might be available to start for Caribes next Tuesday. His status is day to day. The Cubs pitcher had his best outing in Venezuela last Friday, giving up one unearned run on two hits and two walks over five innings for Caribes, but had to leave the game after he was hit by Ezequiel Carrera’s liner.

— Carrie Muskat

11/19 Zambrano goes 5 innings

In his third start in Venezuela, Carlos Zambrano gave up one run — unearned — on two hits and two walks over five innings. His Caribes team beat Magallanes, 3-1, but Zambrano did not get a decision. He faced 19 batters, and struck out four. Zambrano had to leave Friday’s game after he was hit in the face by a line drive by Ezequiel Carrera and was taken to a local hospital as a precaution. Reports from Venezuela say he’s OK.

— Carrie Muskat

11/18 Sveum on Castro, Z & Marmol

New Cubs manager Dale Sveum has seen the Cubs over the last few years. Here’s his take on Starlin Castro:

“He can hit,” Sveum said of the Cubs’ 21-year-old shortstop. “When he came up to bat, I wasn’t comfortable. I’d rather have [Aramis Ramirez] up there than [Castro]. There’s no way to pitch Castro. He doesn’t have a whole lot of holes. You’d talk in advance meetings, ‘I don’t know what to do, just throw over his head and maybe he’ll swing at it.’ He’s that good.”

What about his defense?

“He needs a lot of polish there,” Sveum said. “Whoever I bring in as the infield coach will get started right away on that. There’s a lot of things we see just watching him. I’m an infield guy. I watch and see a lot of things that are broke down and why those mistakes are happening. There are things with his feet and positioning that will help him out a lot.”

* Sveum joked he’d put Carlos Zambrano at first base. As for the right-hander as a pitcher, that’s different.

“We all know his nine [lives] are up,” Sveum said. “Talking to Theo, [Zambrano] realizes that and he knows it, and he knows he has to win back the respect of his players as well as management. At some point we’ll sit down and talk. You try to get a grip on the guy and try to understand where he’s coming from because he’s out of strikes.”

* On Carlos Marmol:

“One, [hitters] finally just decided all they have to do is sit there and look for a slider,” Sveum said. “They don’t have to worry about the fastball, because even if he throws it, it’s probably a ball. He has to get back to some kind of fastball command.

“When you have that kind of breaking ball, you have to use your fastball as a weapon as well,” he said. “You’ve already established the breaking ball in so many hitters’ minds that now it’s a surprise attack to throw fastball strikes.”

— Carrie Muskat

11/14 Big Z has to “earn his way back”

Theo Epstein is going to give Carlos Zambrano a chance to earn his way back to the Cubs. Epstein and Zambrano had lunch Monday near Wrigley Field. Zambrano had requested the meeting, said his agent, Barry Praver, who also attended the lunch.

“It went well,” Epstein said. “[Zambrano] expressed a strong desire to be a Cub and an even stronger desire to have a really good 2012 season.

“I told him we’d give him the right to earn his way back to being a Cub,” Epstein said. “Nothing would be given to him but he could earn his way back from very hard work this winter, through rebuilding relationships man to man with all of his teammates, and through some other steps that we discussed.

“We’re not welcoming him back unconditionally at all but we’re going to give him the right to earn his way back to being a Cub.”

Neither Epstein nor Praver would go into detail as to what those steps will be for Zambrano to return.

“There are steps,” Epstein said. “Most of the details will stay confidential. There are steps he needs to take and he seems motivated to do so, and if he earns his way back under certain conditions, we’ll see him in Spring Training and welcome him back.”

Was Zambrano contrite during their meeting?

“Yeah, very much so,” Epstein said. “But from what I understand, he’s been that way before.”

— Carrie Muskat

11/14 Lunch with Big Z

We’re not sure who picked up the tab but Theo Epstein and Carlos Zambrano met for lunch Monday in Chicago. Zambrano’s agent, Barry Praver, was there. Epstein, the Cubs president of baseball operations, had said he wanted to talk to the pitcher face to face before deciding what steps to take. Zambrano flew in from Venezuela, where is pitching for Caribes. His last start was Saturday.

— Carrie Muskat