Results tagged ‘ Darwin Barney ’

2/13 Barney pumped for start

Darwin Barney was one of the early bird position players at the Cubs’ spring complex on Thursday. At the convention in January, the second baseman said there was no reason the Cubs couldn’t do what the Red Sox did and go from a last place finish to first.

“Baseball’s a funny game, we all know that,” Barney said. “We’ll just see how it goes. We’re working hard and making some adjustments as a team. We have some fresh faces at the helm, and I think that will help as well.”

In years past, Barney has spent the offseason trying to gain weight and eating as much as he could. This winter was different.

“This year, maybe I’m getting a little older and I had to watch my carbs, per se,” he said. “I tried to get back to the weight I was at a few years ago and maybe be a little more agile on defense.”

Barney said he’s never been as big as he was last year, joking, “I was like [Anthony] Rizzo’s size.”

– Carrie Muskat

2/6 New spring digs

MESA, Ariz. — There’s still some finishing touches to be done at the Cubs’ new Spring Training facility in west Mesa, which will be officially opened on Wednesday with a ribbon cutting ceremony. The front entrance to the team offices is waiting for a new desk and the walls to be finished, and there’s scaffolding under the stairs. Boxes are stacked in various rooms, waiting to be emptied. Some of the early bird players were wandering the halls, trying to find shortcuts from the meal room to the locker room.

Fans who want to watch workouts can enter on Cubs Way off of Rio Salado Parkway on the far west side of the facility. A security guard said fans should be able to park there, watch the workouts, then walk along the west side of the facility and get to the stadium without having to move their cars. That is subject to change, of course.

It was cloudy and cool on Thursday but there were several players in camp, including Travis Wood, Darwin Barney, Logan Watkins, Donnie Murphy, Nate Schierholtz, James Russell, Blake Parker, Edwin Jackson, Josh Vitters, Matt Szczur and Chris Rusin. There also were a few non-roster invitees, including Ryan Kalish.

Pitchers and catchers report in one week, Feb. 13, with the first workout the next day. The first game is Feb. 27 vs. the Diamondbacks.

– Carrie Muskat

2/6 Cubs and Barney settle

The Cubs avoided arbitration with second baseman Darwin Barney as the two sides reached agreement Thursday on a one-year, $2.3 million contract. Barney had filed for $2.8 million and the Cubs had countered at $1.8 million, so they settled in the middle.

The only player still unsigned who is arb eligible is Jeff Samardzija, and his hearing was slated for Monday in St. Petersburg, Fla. The Cubs offered Samardzija $4.4 million, and he was seeking $6.2 million.

– Carrie Muskat

1/17 Cubs and Valbuena

The Cubs have reportedly reached a contract agreement with infielder Luis Valbuena and avoided arbitration. According to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, Valbuena has signed a $1.71 million contract with the Cubs. The third baseman is one of eight Cubs who filed for salary arbitration on Tuesday. Figures were to be exchanged today. Arbitration hearings are scheduled for Feb. 1-21.

Valbuena made $930,000 last year, and was projected by MLBTradeRumors.com to receive $1.5 million this year. He appeared in the most games at third base for the Cubs in 2013, batting .218 with 12 home runs and 14 doubles.

Other Cubs who filed for salary arbitration include Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Darwin Barney, Nate Schierholtz, James Russell, Pedro Strop, and Justin Ruggiano. Wood could get the biggest increase. The lefty, who was 9-12 last season, posting career-highs in starts and innings pitched, earned $527,500 in 2013 and was projected to receive $3.6 million this year.

A quick refresher on salary arbitration: Eligible players are those with at least three years of Major League service but less than six years needed to qualify for free agency. If a case goes to a hearing, the player and the team each present their case to a three-member panel.

– Carrie Muskat

1/14 Arbitration figures – UPDATED

Eight Cubs players were among the 146 MLB players who filed for salary arbitration on Tuesday. Figures will be exchanged Friday between the Cubs and the eight if no agreement is reached before then. Arbitration hearings will be Feb. 1-21. Here are the players involved, their 2013 salary, and projected 2014 figure, according to MLBTradeRumors.com:

Jeff Samardzija: $2.64 million in 2013; projected $4.9 million in 2014
Travis Wood: $527,500 in 2013; projected $3.6 million in 2014
Nate Schierholtz: $2.25 million in 2013; projected $4.4 million in 2014
James Russell: $1.075 million in 2013; projected $1.7 million in 2014
Pedro Strop: $502,500 in 2013; projected $1 million in 2014
Luis Valbuena: $930,000 in 2013; projected $1.5 million in 2014
Darwin Barney: $562,000 in 2013; projected $2.1 million in 2014
Justin Ruggiano: $494,500 in 2013; projected $1.8 million in 2014

The last time the Cubs went to arbitration was in 2010 when an arbitrator ruled in favor of the team’s $2.6 million offer over the $3.4 million bid submitted by Ryan Theriot.

– Carrie Muskat

1/2 Mark your new 2014 calendar

* Do you have tickets yet for the Cubs Convention? This year’s annual fan fest will be Jan. 17-19 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel and Towers, 301 E. North Water Street, Chicago. Call 1-800-325-3535 for more information. Individual weekend passes are $60 per person without a hotel reservation, and are valid for all three days. Passes are $20 if you stay at the hotel.

Among the players scheduled to participate are Darwin Barney, Welington Castillo, Starlin Castro, Edwin Jackson, Anthony Rizzo, James Russell, Jeff Samardzija, Nate Schierholtz, Carlos Villanueva, and Travis Wood. New manager Rick Renteria will introduce his coaching staff, and Cubs alum scheduled to take part include Fergie Jenkins, Derrek Lee, Ted Lilly, Mark Prior, Dwight Smith, Jody Davis, Todd Walker, Billy Williams, Kerry Wood and Ernie Banks.

* On Jan. 16, you can sing along with some of your favorite Cubs players and help a good cause. The David DeJesus Family Foundation and Cubs Charities will present “Strike a Chord” celebrity karaoke event at American Junkie, 15 West Illinois Street, Chicago, on that date. Cubs players, alumni and their wives will sing at the fundraiser, with proceeds to benefit ALS research and support the DeJesus foundation. There are reports Travis Wood will be singing a country song.

There will be karaoke duets, an open bar, live auction and raffle. Tickets are $125 per person ($150 at the door), and $1,000 per table (four tickets plus reserved seating). The karaoke show begins at 8 p.m. CT. There will also be dancing after the event. Cubs Charities will donate half of the proceeds raised to ALS Research and Support in the name of the David DeJesus Family Foundation. Go to Cubs.com/community/strike_a_chord for more information.

* Had enough of the winter weather in Chicago? Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training at the new facility in Mesa, Ariz., on Feb. 13.

– Carrie Muskat

12/9 Extra bases

* Besides looking for bullpen help and another starting pitcher, the Cubs are searching for players who will be good role models for the current youngsters on the roster.

“I think people forget how young guys like [Anthony] Rizzo and [Starlin] Castro are,” GM Jed Hoyer said Monday at the Winter Meetings. “They need some positive examples.”

The Cubs are hoping new first base coach Eric Hinske can fill that role as well.

“He did a great job as a bench player and being a team leader,” Hoyer said of Hinske, who played last season for the Diamondbacks. “It was always about having different influences on the coaching staff for our players. You want to have different avenues. [Players] might gravitate toward the guy who has been teaching for a long time, or they might gravitate toward the guy who just came off the field.”

* Luis Valbuena, who led the Cubs with 94 starts at third base last season, has been playing strictly second base in the Venezuelan Winter League. That’s by design.

“We want him to be versatile and he is versatile,” Hoyer said. “[Darwin] Barney can play shortstop, Valbuena can play some shortstop, Donnie Murphy can play some shortstop. We have a really versatile infield and that’s a great thing. We may not have to carry a standard utility guy and can mix and match in different ways.”

Speaking of Barney, Hoyer said he expects the second baseman to have a much better season than he did in 2013.

“It’s a big year for him, no matter what,” Hoyer said of Barney, who batted .208 this season. “He had a down year offensively and he’d be the first person to say that. I don’t think it has anything to do with competition among young players. He wants to bounce back and get back to where he was.

“With him, mechanically and approach-wise, he got caught with some things last year,” Hoyer said. “A lot of things with him isn’t the hard work or the swing, it’s the approach.”

The team does have a promising second baseman in Arismendy Alcantara, ranked No. 8 among MLB.com’s top 20 Cubs prospects, but he will open the season at Triple-A Iowa, Hoyer said.

* Andy MacPhail, who was the Cubs’ president and CEO from 1994-2006, including a two-year stint as the general manager (2000-01), is keeping an eye on how the current Chicago front office is trying to rebuild the organization.

“They have to do it the way they’re comfortable with and the way they think most guarantees their success, and I know that’s what that group is doing,” MacPhail said Monday at the Winter Meetings.

“I have a lot of confidence in that group that they’re going to do it the way they think will most assuredly get them the end goal because that’s the prize, winning the whole thing,” MacPhail said. “We got close [in 2003]. You ultimately aren’t successful until you at least get to the World Series.”

* Outfielder Ryan Sweeney hoped to begin work this week with Hall of Famer Rod Carew. The two worked together last season, and Sweeney said he benefitted from the sessions. Sweeney batted .266 in 70 games with the Cubs, and signed a two-year contract extension on Oct. 8.

* New manager Rick Renteria will get together with his coaches in Mesa, Ariz., this weekend to get a tour of the new facility and start preparations for Spring Training. Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 13.

* Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year, recently completed his studies at Dartmouth and graduated with a major in economics. Hendricks was a combined 13-4 with 2.00 ERA in 27 starts between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa.

* Junior Lake is done playing in the Dominican Republic winter league, and those who saw him raved about his outfield play.

– Carrie Muskat

12/2 Roster moves

The Cubs signed infielder Donnie Murphy and catcher George Kottaras to one-year contracts on Monday, and tendered contracts to seven arbitration eligible players, including Darwin Barney, Jeff Samardzija and Travis Wood. The Cubs non-tendered relievers Daniel Bard and Chang-Yong Lim as well as infielder Mat Gamel, who are now free agents. Lim was not eligible for arbitration.

Besides Barney, Samardzija and Wood, the other arbitration-eligible players tendered 2014 contracts include pitchers Pedro Strop and James Russell; infielder Luis Valbuena; and outfielder Nate Schierholtz. A total of 28 players from the Cubs’ 40-man roster were tendered 2014 contracts, including 21 not yet eligible for arbitration.

With all the moves, the Cubs’ 40-man roster now stands at 37 players.

Murphy, 30, who was arbitration eligible, agreed to terms on a $825,000 deal. He spent most of the season at Triple-A Iowa, where he batted .265. In 46 games with the Cubs, Murphy batted .255 and hit 11 home runs.

Kottaras, who also was arbitration eligible, signed a one-year, $1.075 million contract that includes incentives. Acquired last Tuesday from the Royals in a trade for cash considerations, Kottaras made $1 million last season. He is projected to back up Welington Castillo behind the plate.

According to MLBTradeRumors.com, Samardzija is projected to get $4.9 million in 2014, while Schierholtz is projected to get $4.4 million; Wood $3.6 million; Barney $2.1 million; Russell $1.7 million; Valbuena $1.5 million; and Strop $1 million.

The Cubs already have committed $49 million to six players for 2014 and will be paying $14 million to the Yankees to cover the last year of Alfonso Soriano’s contract.

The Cubs are keeping an eye on the now expanded list of free agents. Last year, they signed Schierholtz after he was non-tendered by the Phillies, and the outfielder became a regular in right field. Schierholtz set career highs in home runs (21), doubles (32) and RBIs (68), and led the team with a .259 batting average with runners in scoring position.

Bard, once a dominant set-up pitcher with the Red Sox, was claimed off waivers in September. At that time, Theo Epstein, who knew Bard from his Boston days, said the Cubs were committed to the right-hander for the long haul. Bard had struggled after the Red Sox tried to convert him to a starter and battled a strained abdominal muscle this season.

When he joined the Cubs, Bard did not get into a game but worked on the side with pitching coach Chris Bosio. They videotaped the sessions, even though Bard was unaware of the cameras as the Cubs hid one in the ivy and another in a door at Wrigley Field.

Bard, 28, appeared in three games in Puerto Rico last month, but retired only one of the 13 batters he faced. He walked nine, hit three batters, and threw four wild pitches in those outings. The Cubs could still re-sign Bard, who made $1.8625 million this year.

Gamel, 28, sidelined most of this season because of a torn right anterior cruciate ligament, was acquired off waivers from the Brewers in early October. Lim, 37, signed as a free agent with the Cubs, and appeared in six games in September.

– Carrie Muskat

12/2 Extra bases

* The Cubs are expected to tender contracts to all of their arbitration eligible players before Monday’s 10:59 p.m. CT deadline. Players not tendered before that deadline will become free agents. The Cubs have nine players who are arbitration eligible, including infielders Darwin Barney, Luis Valbuena and Donnie Murphy; outfielder Nate Schierholtz; and pitchers Pedro Strop, Travis Wood, Daniel Bard, James Russell and Jeff Samardzija.

The main reason teams might non-tender a player is because he is arbitration eligible and due for a raise higher than the team is willing to pay.

This is the third year Schierholtz is arbitration eligible, the second year for Samardzija, Russell, Valbuena, and Murphy, and the first year for Bard, Barney, Strop and Wood. According to salaries projected by MLBTradeRumors.com, if the Cubs tender contracts to all nine players, they’ll be adding $21.5 million to the payroll. The Cubs have committed $49 million to six players for 2014 and will be paying $14 million to the Yankees to cover the last year of Alfonso Soriano’s contract.

*The Cubs have reportedly re-signed outfielder Darnell McDonald to a Minor League deal. He has a career .285/.353/.453 slash line against left-handed pitchers (12-for-28 this season with Cubs). McDonald played in 25 games with the Cubs this season, and was outrighted to the Minor Leagues on Oct. 8. He became a free agent Oct. 15.

* According to FOX Sports and MLB Network’s Ken Rosenthal, the Blue Jays have reached an agreement with catcher Dioner Navarro on a two-year, $8 million deal. Navarro, 29, batted .300 in 89 games last season with the Cubs, hitting a career-high 13 home runs, including three in one game, and driving in 34. Navarro was paid $1.75 million last year. The Cubs have signed George Kottaras to be their backup catcher in 2014.

* Steve Wilson, who was the Pacific Rim and Mexico scouting coordinator for the Cubs, has joined the Yankees as the Pacific Rim scouting coordinator/international crosschecker. Wilson pitched for the Cubs from 1989-91.

– Carrie Muskat

11/26 Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all. It’s a time to give thanks, and take stock. It’s also a time for many to eat.

Cubs second baseman Darwin Barney’s favorite dish? His mother’s homemade stuffing. He wasn’t sure what the secret ingredient was but said she doesn’t use a stuffing mix and breaks the bread apart by hand.

“My mom makes it from scratch and it’s the only thing I look forward to about Thanksgiving,” Barney said. “They usually give me the easy job of corn or cranberry sauce.”

Barney also clarified that his mother’s stuffing isn’t the only good thing about the holiday. The second baseman, who lives in Beaverton, Ore., in the offseason, also enjoys getting together with family at this time of year. He does love the food.

“Her stuffing is my favorite thing about Thanksgiving,” he said.

Cubs TV analyst Jim Deshaies said they celebrate with a very traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

“I’m a big fan of turnips while the rest of the clan leans more toward the squash,” he said. “My wife is convinced that there is nothing better than squash and cranberries mixed together. Gravy is my favorite food group, so anything slathered in gravy gets the job done for me.”

Safe travels to all.

– Carrie Muskat

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