Results tagged ‘ Cubs ’

1/19 Cubs TV update

Cubs games will be broadcast on three different stations in 2015 — Comcast SportsNet Chicago, WGN-TV, and WLS-TV/ABC 7. The Cubs are reaching out to markets to syndicate their games outside of the Chicagoland area.

“If there’s a market they can’t serve or get an agreement with, we could go to [Major League Baseball] and ask them to lift the blackout in that community only,” said Crane Kenney, president of business operations. “MLB should want to see distribution occur everywhere there’s a fan who wants to see the game as long as we respect our local partners.”

Stay tuned, Cubs fans.

– Carrie Muskat

1/17 Cubs Convention notes

Some highlights from the Cubs Convention seminars:

* Javier Baez is headed back to Puerto Rico to continue to play for Santurce, most likely through the playoffs. GM Jed Hoyer says Baez is well aware he has to make adjustments.

“He has to earn his playing time,” Hoyer said of the 21-year-old infielder. “He knows he has to make more contact to stay in the big leagues.”

* The Cubs pitching staff actually did well last season but the offense struggled. The Cubs ranked 12th in the National League in runs scored, ahead of only the Reds, Braves and Padres; 13th in on-base percentage; and 14th in batting average with runners in scoring position (.223). Where will the runs come from in 2015? Theo Epstein says he’s counting on better performances from Jorge Soler, Arismendy Alcantara and Luis Valbuena, plus feels they will get more production from the catching position with the addition of Miguel Montero. What about Kris Bryant? Epstein said Bryant definitely is expected to be in the lineup in 2015.

“When it’s the right time for Kris’ development and the right time for the team, he’ll be on the roster,” Epstein said.

* The Cubs may open the season with three catchers: Montero, David Ross and Welington Castillo. The Cubs added Ross because they felt he was too good a player and person in the clubhouse to pass on, Hoyer said.

* Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts was asked about Sammy Sosa and whether the team can reconcile with the former right fielder.

“I don’t want to get into Sammy,” Ricketts said. “There will be a time and a place for it, and we’ll wait for that time and place.”

* Jon Lester’s ability to pitch at Fenway Park will help him at Wrigley Field, Epstein said. Lester would pitch at Fenway in ways that were counter to the type of pitcher he is, and that was because of the way the ballpark is built.

“We all know Wrigley plays two different ways,” Epstein said. “When the wind is howling in and it’s April, and it’s really hard to hit the ball out of the ballpark, he’ll go right at guys and be extremely efficient. He has the power and the mix to be able to do that. On the days when [the wind] is howling out, he can change things up and work his two-seamer a little more, change speeds a little more often and keep hitters off balance. For a left-handed pitcher having gone through your whole career basically at Fenway Park, that’s a gauntlet and it forces you to get creative.”

* Someone asked Epstein how he was able to lure Lester to the Cubs.

“Well, $155 million,” Epstein quipped.

– Carrie Muskat

1/17 Bleachers won’t be ready Opening Day

Cubs president of business operations Crane Kenney said Saturday that the Wrigley Field bleachers will not be ready by Opening Night, April 5. The bleachers are currently being renovated, part of the five-year, $575 million “Project 1060″ for the 100-year-old ballpark. Bleacher season ticket holders received an email on Saturday outlining their options. They can get a full refund prior to games of May 11, get a credit amount prior to May 11, or relocate for all their games prior to May 11. Kenney said the left field bleachers are expected to be ready by early May, and the right field bleachers ready by late May. Said Carl Rice: “We want to do it right.”

– Carrie Muskat

1/17 Top 10 from Dempster

Ryan Dempster interviewed players and others during a show Friday night, the first night of the Cubs Convention. In case you missed it, here was Dempster’s “Top 10 reasons the Cubs hired Joe Maddon:”

10. “We misheard and thought he knew [actress] Eva Longoria.”

9. “We’re trying to set the Guinness Book of World Records for most fired managers.”

8. “We needed someone who would take the leftover Harry Carry glasses.”

7. “The Cubs’ bus keeps breaking down so we figured, hey, we can use his RV.”

6. “Most managers take shots from the media; Joe Maddon buys shots for the media.”

5. “We have a young team here in Chicago, and if 60 is the new 40, well, we need someone to manage all of our toddlers.”

4. “[Model wife of former Cub David DeJesus] Kim DeJesus told us to.”

3. “He’s the son of a plumber and, let’s just face it: the Wrigley bathrooms need a ton of work.”

2. “We just feel bad for anyone who lives in Florida.”

1. “Well, because of all the other managers we tried to tamper with, none of them called us back.”

– Cash Kruth, MLB.com

1/16 Arbitration update

The Cubs avoided arbitration Friday with Jake Arrieta, Welington Castillo, Travis Wood, Chris Coghlan and Luis Valbuena, and exchanged salary figures with reliever Pedro Strop.

Wood: one-year, $5.685 million contract
Arrieta: one-year, $3.63 million contract
Castillo: one-year, $2.1 million contract
Valbuena: one-year, $4.2 million contract
Coghlan: one-year, $2.505 million contract

Friday was the deadline for teams to exchange figures with arb eligible players. Hearings will be Feb. 1-21 if no settlement is reached before then.

– Carrie Muskat

1/16 Castro: Wrong place, wrong time

* Starlin Castro says he was in the “wrong place at the wrong time” regarding two shooting incidents in the Dominican Republic in December and the Cubs shortstop will likely move his family to the United States. Castro, 24, has relocated to Arizona to get a head start on preparing for the 2015 season at the Cubs complex in Mesa. Theo Epstein talked to Castro immediately after both incidents.

“The most important thing is that Starlin has responded to this adversity really well,” Epstein said Friday prior to the opening ceremonies at the Cubs Convention. “He’s taken a mature approach and figured out he needed to make some changes, he needed to change his environment to put himself in the best position to A, keep him and his family safe, and B, to prepare the right way for the season to win a championship. He made a not insignificant step to move to Arizona and start his training early, and I was proud of the way he responded to a difficult situation.”

The move to Arizona isn’t full time, Castro said, and he’s still considering his options.

“I’ve got to move,” Castro said. “I’ve got to do something that doesn’t create negative things. I’m not that kind of person.”

– Carrie Muskat

1/16 Cubs Convention underway

The Cubs new marketing slogan for the 2015 season is “Let’s Go,” and it was unveiled Friday at the opening ceremonies of the 30th convention. New manager Joe Maddon has heard the same message from fans while walking around Chicago this past week.

“The refrain that catches me, primarily, is male-oriented and guys talk about their dads and their grand pops a lot,” Maddon said. “It’s this unrequited situation where they’ve never had a World Series here in their lifetime. There’s a real passionate generational situation here.”

Maddon, who has strong ties to his family, said he could relate.

“I get it,” he said. “I understand where the fans are coming from and I understand the frustration, but more important, I understand the family component.”

The Cubs are coming off a last-place finish in the National League Central, and begin the 2015 season with plenty of optimism following the addition of Maddon and free agent pitcher Jon Lester, who both received loud ovations during opening festivities of the three-day fan fest at the Sheraton Hotel and Tower.

Maddon has spent the week in Chicago, watching video of the Cubs players, meeting with the Minor League coordinators, and talking to the analytics department. He’s been analyzing the pros and cons of batting a pitcher eighth, something he did during Interleague games with the Rays. He hasn’t been scribbling possible lineups down, preferring to see players in person first.

He’s heard how optimistic at least one of his players is. On Thursday, Anthony Rizzo promised the Cubs would win the NL Central this year. A lot of Rizzo’s enthusiasm is spurred by the addition of Lester, who signed a six-year, $155 million contract last month.

“I mean it’s obviously a bold statement,” Lester said. “I don’t think the end-all goal is the division. It’s nice to win the division, it’s always nice to be in the playoffs, but obviously the end-all goal for everybody, I would imagine, would be the World Series.

“By no way, shape or form am I predicting a World Series win, but that’s the goal, to get there,” Lester said. “You get there, you can figure it out and see what happens. … I stand behind my teammate and we’re going to go out there and hopefully that’s the first goal we’re going to try to make.”

– Carrie Muskat

1/16 Castillo, Arrieta done

The Cubs avoided arbitration Friday with Jake Arrieta and Welington Castillo. The Cubs signed Arrieta to a one-year, $3.63 million contract, and agreed to a one-year, $2.1 million deal with Castillo.

Arrieta, 28, is coming off a stellar season with the Cubs in which he compiled a 10-5 record and 2.53 ERA in 25 starts, including his first complete game shutout. The right-hander carried a no-hit bid into the seventh inning in three starts, the first Cubs pitcher to do so since 1950. He was projected to the Cubs 2015 Opening Day starter until Jon Lester was signed.

“It’s hard to not want to give it up to a guy like that,” Arrieta said Thursday of the Opening Day honors. “[Lester] is well deserving, he’s a leader, and a guy who all of us can look to for advice and ways to build and grow and learn as players. No problem with that at all.”

Castillo’s future isn’t as clear. The catcher hit a career-high 13 home runs but batted .237 last season in 110 games. The Cubs have added catchers Miguel Montero and David Ross this offseason. Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said they’ve had some inquiries about Castillo but haven’t found the right match.

The Cubs now have three arbitration-eligible players remaining, including Travis Wood, Luis Valbuena, and Pedro Strop.

– Carrie Muskat

1/16 Theo on MLB Radio

With plenty of eyes on the Cubs as they kick off their winter convention Friday, Theo Epstein spoke on MLB Network Radio about the remaining plans for the offseason and the 2015 season outlook. Epstein, on “The Leadoff Spot” with Steve Phillips and Todd Hollandsworth, said that despite the big-name starting pitching free agents still on the market, the Cubs are content with their current rotation.

“We feel pretty good about the rotation as it stands, and especially good about the depth,” Epstein said. “We like our sixth, seventh, eighth starters this year better than we have in a long time.”

With newly signed ace Jon Lester at the top of the rotation, the Cubs also have incumbents Jake Arrieta, Kyle Hendricks and Travis Wood joining free agent acquisition Jason Hammel.

In other hot stove news, Epstein said the Cubs have kicked the tires on a few deals involving their bounty of catchers, but nothing has come to fruition.

“It might be a situation if we don’t find a match that we like and we’re not overwhelmed, we might just go into Spring Training because a quick way to derail a potentially good team is if you have an injury to one of your catchers and most teams, most organizations aren’t deep enough to call up a Minor League free agent or someone from Triple-A and it can really create a bit of a black hole in your lineup,” Epstein said.

That may leave the club largely as-is, and it’s a team the organization is excited about. First baseman Anthony Rizzo said Thursday he expects the club to win the National League Central, and Epstein didn’t have a problem with that statement.

“I think enthusiasm is great, especially with our players,” Epstein said. “I want our players thinking that way and having a little bit of swagger.”

– Joey Nowak, MLB.com

1/16 Coghlan signs new deal

The Cubs avoided arbitration with Chris Coghlan, signing the outfielder to a one-year, $2.505 million contract on Friday. In his first year with the Cubs, Coghlan, 29, batted .283 with nine home runs, 28 doubles, five triples and 41 RBIs in 125 games. He began the season at Triple-A Iowa, but finished with the most games (103) and at-bats (358) of any of the Cubs outfielders.

The Cubs now have five arbitration-eligible players remaining, including Travis Wood, Luis Valbuena, Pedro Strop, Jake Arrieta and Welington Castillo. Felix Doubront settled on Thursday, signing a one-year, $1.925 million contract.

– Carrie Muskat

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