Results tagged ‘ John Baker ’

12/2 Cubs roster moves

The Cubs non-tendered catcher John Baker and left-handed reliever Wesley Wright on Tuesday, reducing the 40-man roster to 37. The Cubs did tender contracts to eight of the 10 arbitration eligible players, including right-handed pitchers Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop, left-handed pitchers Felix Doubront and Travis Wood, catcher Welington Castillo, infielder Luis Valbuena, and outfielders Chris Coghlan and Justin Ruggiano.

Overall, 30 players from the Cubs’ 40-man roster were tendered 2015 contracts. That includes the eight arbitration-eligible players listed and 22 players not yet eligible for arbitration. Wright and Baker are now free agents.

With Wright gone, the only left-handed pitchers on the Cubs’ 40-man roster are Doubront, Wood, Tsuyoshi Wada, Joseph Ortiz, Eric Jokisch, and Zac Rosscup. Besides Castillo, Rafael Lopez is the only other catcher on the Cubs’ 40-man roster.

MLBTradeRumors.com projects arbitration salaries, and estimated Wood could make $5.5 million in 2015; Arrieta $4.1 million; Castillo $2.1 million; Coghlan $1.4 million; Doubront $1.3 million; Ruggiano $2.5 million; Strop $2.4 million; and Valbuena $3.1 million.

– Carrie Muskat

10/31 Cubs players commend Renteria

Catcher John Baker played in San Diego when Rick Renteria was on the coaching staff, and the two were reunited in Chicago this past season. Baker, well aware of the business side of the game, was saddened at the news that Renteria was dismissed Friday as Cubs manager.

“Obviously, when you play for somebody — and I’ve known Ricky for a few years, so it’s sad to see that side of it in baseball — but I think everybody going into every new season knows this is a business,” Baker said Friday. “Sometimes business decisions are tough on people who are personable. It was fun to play for Ricky. I enjoyed having him as a manager and a coach. I look forward to seeing what happens next season.”

What will happen next season is the beginning of the Joe Maddon era in Chicago. The Cubs will introduce Maddon as their 54th manager in franchise history on Monday.

Renteria leaves after one season on the job.

“I believe he did a wonderful job with the circumstances he was presented with this past season,” pitcher Carlos Villanueva said Friday. “It is very hard to be evaluated after only one season managing, especially when your two best starters are traded away mid season.

“I said it then, and I’ll say it again, most of us with experience in this business knew what we signed up for when we came to Chicago during this period of rebuilding,” Villanueva said. “And we also understood that whatever Theo [Epstein] and Jed [Hoyer] thought was best for the future of the organization, they were going to do, putting the organization first over anyone and anything else.”

Maddon will be the Cubs third manager in the last four years.

“It is obviously a business driven decision that not all are going to like,” Villanueva said of dismissing Renteria, “but at the end of the day if that is what they thought was going to help bring a championship to the Cubs organization, that’s what they need to do. We’ll know if it works with time. Hopefully, it works out for all parties.”

Villanueva credited Renteria for getting Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro back on track after tough seasons in 2013.

“He helped make them All-Stars along the way and did all that was asked of him and more,” Villanueva said. “There are things that happen that only the people who are in the clubhouse at times know of, but with all the challenges [Renteria] faced, he did great. Whoever gets him will have an outstanding baseball man.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/26 Cubs players on Jeter

I asked three Cubs players for one word to describe Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, and say why they picked that word.

Carlos Villanueva:
Respect.

“In 2011, I faced him in New York. We went back to Toronto, and to go to the clubhouse there, you have to go past the hitting cage. It just so happened he was walking in the same time I was coming in. I was starstruck — it’s Jeter. The guy just spoke to me like one of his peers. He remembered that I punched him out in the first at-bat — I think I threw a 3-2 changeup. He kind of smiled; I guess he was surprised. He mentioned it, he said, ‘Man, that was a good pitch you threw me that first at-bat of the game.’ I’ve played with a lot of superstars and some of their egos are a little up there more than you would want them to be, but this guy was so much about what you want the game to be. I don’t think I have as much respect for any opposing hitter than I have for him. A guy who conducts himself the way he does, the way he has for so many years in such a difficult city to play in, it’s an example I wish every player could see and follow. It doesn’t compare when everybody says it, but the respect, even not knowing him and seeing how he conducts his business, no showmanship, none of that stuff. Just winning and doing things the way you’re supposed to, and spend time enjoying the game. It’s something I don’t think we’ll see as good as he’s done it for such a long time. He respects the game.”

Starlin Castro:
Respect.

“He’s one of the greatest players who I’ve watched since I was a little kid. It’s how he plays baseball, how he controls the situation on the biggest stage with the Yankees. Not everybody can take that big responsibility to be a captain on the biggest team like that. It’s also how he plays the game, how his teammates respect him. Not everybody can do that. We won’t see that for a long time, everybody doesn’t have that kind of respect. In the world, we have a lot of Hall of Famers and great players, but to be captain on one team like the Yankees, not everybody can do it. Respect. That’s the most important thing. Everybody who plays on the Yankees, everybody respects him, everybody does what he says in a good way. He’s awesome. Everybody pays attention to him, and everybody listens to him because they respect him, and not only the players but the coaches, everybody.”

John Baker:
No. 2

“I think about No. 2, and the reason I think about No. 2 is because it’s the perfectly appropriate number for Derek Jeter because I think he’s the best player of all time. He’s gone through the steroid generation and never been in trouble and stayed relevant as baseball has improved. At the same time, he always takes a back seat to his team. No. 2 for me is the perfect number for Derek Jeter because he’s the best player who doesn’t want everyone to see him as the best player and it makes him the best teammate. No. 1 would be inappropriate because it would be selfish. No. 2 is perfect.”

– Carrie Muskat

7/30 Do you remember Fred Pfeffer?

Baseball historian Ed Hartig did some research on the last Cubs position player to pick up a win, and discovered Fred Pfeffer. Hartig’s description of a non-pitcher was someone who pitched in five or fewer games while playing a significant number of games in the field. Pfeffer was clearly a fielder who was called on to pitch in emergency situations in 1885. He played in 112 games that year, 109 at second. He pitched in five games as well, going 2-1.

John Baker, the Cubs’ backup catcher who picked up the win against the Rockies, is still the first true position player to get a win as a pitcher.

– Carrie Muskat

7/29 Cubs 4, Rockies 3 (16 innings)

* Tuesday’s game lasted 6 hours, 27 minutes and marked the longest game by time in Cubs franchise history, breaking the 6:10 game, Aug. 17-18, 1982, vs. the Dodgers (21 innings).

* John Baker became the first Cubs position player to pitch in a game since Joe Mather did so Aug. 27, 2012, vs. Milwaukee. Baker is the first position player to earn a win since Baltimore’s Chris Davis did so, May 6, 2012, at Boston. The previous NL position player to earn a win was Philadelphia’s Wilson Valdez, May 25, 2011, against the Reds. According to Elias, Baker is the first Cubs position player ever to get the win as a pitcher in a game.

* Chicago’s bullpen tossed 12-scoreless innings, scattering just three hits while striking out 14.

* The Cubs improved to 5-6 in extra-inning games this season.

* Starlin Castro’s sac-fly RBI in the bottom of the 16th gave the Cubs their first walk-off win since July 11 vs. Atlanta.

* Anthony Rizzo has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games, going 18-for-56 (.321). Rizzo is 15-for-43 (.349) with five home runs and nine RBI in 11 games since the All-Star break.

* Emilio Bonifacio went 4-for-7 and has hit safely in nine of his last 10 home games (.419/18-for-43). This was his fourth game with at least four hits. Bonifacio tied the game at 3-3 with a fourth-inning, two-run homer.

* Edwin Jackson did not get a decision. He gave up three runs on six hits while walking three and striking out four in four innings. It was the fifth time in 22 starts this season where he did not last at least five innings. In six July starts, Jackson went 0-3 with a 7.50 ERA (25 ER/30.0 IP). Opponents hit .328 (40-for-122).

6/7 Extra bases

* Zac Rosscup, on the disabled list since May 10 with left shoulder soreness, was expected to begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa on Saturday. Outfielder Ryan Sweeney, on the DL since May 3 with a hamstring strain, was expected to start a rehab assignment this week with Class A Kane County.

* Rookie third baseman Mike Olt is hitless in his last five games, and batting .157 overall. He started on Saturday.

“We’re still trying to put these guys in situations where they have a chance to have success,” manager Rick Renteria said. “He had a run there where he was falling into a nice little groove and we let him face lefties and righties, and it’s just like anything, we have to put them in a place where they start to gain their confidence again, and put them in situations where they have a greater chance to do what they do. Hopefully, starting today, facing [Randy] Wolf, will give him a boost. The reality is they’re still learning, still developing.”

* Eli Whiteside started at catcher. John Baker is having a tough time talking after taking a foul ball off his throat on Thursday.

“I know he’s trying to talk to everybody,” Renteria said of Baker, “but he should be trying to avoid talking.”

– Carrie Muskat

6/5 Baker sidelined

Cubs catcher John Baker was feeling some soreness in his throat after taking a foul ball off there during Wednesday’s game. Baker did not start on Thursday, and Eli Whiteside was behind the plate for the Cubs’ series finale against the Mets. Manager Rick Renteria said Luis Valbuena would be the emergency catcher if needed, but wanted to check on Baker’s status first.

3/25 Edwards: My nerves were crazy

C.J. Edwards was nervous Tuesday night. He had more than a week to prepare for his first Cactus League start, and had taken the advice of his father, who told him to pray and meditate. Edwards tried to visualize his approach.

“My dad actually helped me get ready for this game,” Edwards said.

But Edwards’ father was back in Prosperity, S.C., and the pitcher had to rely on Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio and catcher John Baker, who both told Edwards to just keep doing what he had been doing. The slender right-hander was a combined 8-2 with a 1.86 ERA last season at Class A Hickory and High A Daytona. He joined the Cubs in July after being dealt from the Rangers in the Matt Garza deal. Most of the Cubs front office, including Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, were in the stands in Peoria on Tuesday night to watch Edwards. He didn’t see them because Edwards says he has great “tunnel vision.” The 22-year-old had enough to think about.

“I went out there the first inning, and nerves were crazy,” Edwards said of his start against the Padres. “I can’t even explain the nerves I had. Overall being out there, I felt like I should be out there.”

He retired the first batter, and Seth Smith singled, but Edwards got Kyle Blanks to hit into a double play and end the inning. The second wasn’t as smooth as Xavier Nady singled to lead off and reached third on an error by Ryan Kalish. Rene Rivera hit a sacrifice fly, and Edwards then walked the next two batters. That prompted a visit from Bosio.

Edwards regrouped and got a ground out, and then struck out Andrew Cashner to end the inning. In the third, Edwards again retired the first batter, then Smith singled and Blanks walked. Bosio again came to the mound along with all the infielders. Edwards caught his breath, then served up a double to Nady and a sacrifice fly before he was lifted.

As Edwards walked off the field, Baker said something to him.

“His exact words were, ‘Hey, you did a hell of a job, man, and you’ve got a bright future ahead. Just stay with it,'” Edwards said, smiling.

A lot of players are so overcome by the moment that they admit they’re shaking the first time on a mound in a big league game.

“I actually wasn’t that nervous on the mound,” he said. “After I came in the first inning, my right knee just started going by itself and I was trying to look around and hold it down, but it didn’t work, so I let it bounce.”

Edwards also got advice from first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who came over to the mound in the second after the pitcher walked two in a row.

“He comes up to me, and he goes, ‘Hey, do you want to play first base?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, let’s switch,'” Edwards said.

But they didn’t. It wasn’t just Baker or Rizzo, it was everyone on the Cubs giving Edwards support. They’ve all been there.

“Overall, the guys were behind me 100 percent and they have faith in me,” he said.

The Cubs just have to figure out a way to add some muscle to his skinny body. He weighed 165 on Tuesday, no change from January when he admitted he’s been eating everything in sight. In fact, he gorged on a large order of French toast at the Breakfast Club in Scottsdale on Tuesday morning. He couldn’t finish the eggs and sausage but did eat all the bread.

He could relax once his outing was over.

“Like I tell everybody, I enjoyed it,” Edwards said. “I feel I can be out there any time to help the club when the time comes. The guys that we have up are already doing great. We’ll have our ups and downs but we’ll go out there each and every day 110 percent. When that day comes and I get the call, I feel I’ll be ready to come up there.”

Hopefully, Tuesday’s start will make it easier when he does get promoted.

“Now, I feel my first game there [at Wrigley Field], I won’t be as nervous, but then again, it’ll be Chicago, and there will be over 100 thousand fans there,” he said, over-estimating the ballpark’s attendance by about 60,000. “It’s a little different here. It was wonderful. The outcome wasn’t good but overall just being around those guys was fantastic.”

Edwards isn’t sure where he’ll open the 2014 season, although the Cubs have said it could be Double-A Tennessee. He can only hope he’s matched up with his roommates, like Duane Underwood, who made the drive to Peoria to cheer on the right-hander. There were more people in the stands than in Edwards’ hometown.

“I believe there was,” he said.

– Carrie Muskat

2/27 Sing along

The Cubs began Thursday’s team meeting with a song, performed by catcher John Baker.

“I wrote a song about what it means to be a Cub,” said Baker, who got help from Darwin Barney, Eric Jokisch, Kyle Hendricks, Brett Jackson and strength coach Tim Buss. “Ricky [Renteria] likes to have people do things that make it a little more fun.”

Baker has only been playing the guitar a few years. He wasn’t sure the lyrics would be printable, but we’ll see.

– Carrie Muskat

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