Results tagged ‘ Theo Epstein ’
* This spring, the Cubs will have their second bunting tournament, with a slight tweak. The front office will compete for a spot in the field of 64, and Theo Epstein was expected to square off against GM Jed Hoyer in their first round match. David DeJesus won the tourney last year.
* Scott Feldman had his first bullpen session on Saturday at Fitch Park. Pitchers and catchers report Sunday, and will take physicals on Monday with the first workout scheduled for Tuesday.
* Outfielder Reggie Golden, the No. 2 pick in 2010, is healthy after suffering a hyperextended left knee in the seventh game of last season at Class A Peoria. He’s also one of the early bird position players in camp. “I’m so excited to be hitting — every time I take a swing, I’m happy to be back,” Golden said.
He’s also been impressed with how Dale Sveum interacts with the young players. “Every day, he says, ‘Good morning, how are you guys doing?’ I would love to play for him,” Golden said.
– Carrie Muskat
Today is the deadline for all MLB clubs to exchange salary figures with their arbitration eligible players. With Matt Garza getting a new deal late Thursday, the Cubs have two arb eligible players remaining: Jeff Samardzija and James Russell. The two sides can continue to negotiate after today, but if no agreement is reached, they will each present their case before an independent arbitrator sometime between Feb. 4-20. This is the first year Samardzija and Russell are arbitration eligible. Samardzija, who was 9-13 with a 3.81 ERA in his first full season as a starter, made $2.64 million last season, while Russell, who appeared in a career-high 77 games, made $512,500. Theo Epstein said this week he prefers to avoid an arbitration hearing.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs feel they’ve added much-needed depth to the pitching staff with the additions of free agent starters Edwin Jackson, Scott Baker, and Scott Feldman, and have given the bullpen a boost with Japanese pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa. However, Baker is coming back from Tommy John surgery and Matt Garza is returning from a right elbow injury. Theo Epstein said Wednesday Baker’s plan calls for him to be throwing at least 75 pitches by the end of March. If Baker needs more time, the Cubs now have enough arms to give him extra rehab starts.
“Both guys are on a nice time table for the start of the season,” Epstein said of Garza and Baker.
The other Cubs starters include Jeff Samardzija, who appears likely to get the Opening Day assignment, and Travis Wood. The Cubs also have yet to finalize their deal with free agent Carlos Villanueva. The transaction has been delayed until the team can clear a spot on the 40-man roster.
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs have announced their 2013 Caravan Tour, which will include the winners of the “Cubs Caravan Visits My School Contest.” The annual tour will feature two buses of players, coaches and front office personnel. This year’s Caravan theme, “Cubs On The Move,” reflects the team’s and Chicago Cubs Charities’ focus on fitness and engaging participants in health and fitness activities. The tour will visit six schools, four hospitals and the Chicago Public Library Jan. 16-17. New stops include the 2nd Battalion, 24th Marine base where Cubs players, coaches and front office staff will serve lunch to active duty military and veterans in partnership with the USO. The Caravan will also stop at the new Cubs Single-A affiliate Kane County Cougars’ ballpark and at the Museum of Science and Industry.
Two lucky schools were selected as winners of the Cubs Caravan Visits My School Contest this year. Montini Catholic High School and DeWitt Clinton Elementary School will be part of this year’s Caravan. Montini Catholic (Lombard, IL) was selected as a contest winner because of its passion and enthusiasm for the Cubs in proudly displaying team memorabilia throughout the school. DeWitt Clinton Elementary School was selected for integrating Cubs baseball into its teaching curriculum and its commitment to fitness initiatives.
Attendees (subject to change) include: David Bell, Joe Bohringer, Mike Borzello, Michael Bowden, Randy Bush, Shawn Camp, Tony Campana, Steve Clevenger, Rob Deer, David DeJesus, Jim Deshaies, Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer, Len Kasper, Andy Lane, Dave McKay, Jason McLeod, Keith Moreland, Jamie Quirk, Shiraz Rehman, Anthony Rizzo, James Rowson, James Russell, Dave Sappelt, Lester Strode and Dale Sveum.
– Carrie Muskat
Theo Epstein tells the Boston Globe that the Cubs have made progress from one year ago. “We’re certainly farther along than we were last year at this time,” Epstein told the Globe. “When we got here [in late 2011], we identified one core player [Starlin Castro] and now we can look around and see Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney, Jeff Samardzija and others. We do have more positional prospects than pitchers, so we felt [Edwin] Jackson will be with us for many years to come.”
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe also says if Matt Garza shows teams that he’s healthy in Spring Training, the Cubs will consider offers for the right-hander. However, Cafardo says it’s hard to read the Cubs’ intentions, especially after the Jackson signing.
On Jan. 11-12, Epstein’s Foundation to be Named Later will host the “Hot Stove Cool Music” weekend, which includes a roundtable discussion on Jan. 11 at Fenway Park. This year’s topic is “Changing a Culture in Baseball” and will feature Epstein, Orioles manager Buck Showalter, Red Sox GM Ben Cherington, Red Sox manager John Farrell, and others.
On Jan. 12, there will be a concert at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston, featuring the Hot Stove All-Stars, the Parkington Sisters, Christian McNeill & Sea Monsters, Chad Hollister Band, and Reigning Monarchs. All proceeds go to the non-profit partners as well as scholarships, which send high-need, high potential young people to college.
Epstein and Hall of Fame baseball writer Peter Gammons founded the Hot Stove, Cool Music event, which began in 2000.
– Carrie Muskat
* Feb. 21 in Mesa, Ariz. It was one of the strangest transactions in Cubs history as pitcher Chris Carpenter said goodbye to his teammates after he found out he was going to the Red Sox as the player to be named as compensation for Theo Epstein. Said Carpenter: “I guess my name will go down in history.”
* Feb. 24 in Mesa, Ariz. On the first day Starlin Castro worked out at Fitch Park, manager Dale Sveum was standing near the shortstop, offering some tips on defense. Sveum didn’t let up all season. Castro did commit 27 errors, but also showed improvement in the field.
* March 18 in Las Vegas prior to game vs. Rangers. Infielder Adrian Cardenas is as passionate about playing baseball as he is about working on his degree at New York University. Cardenas wants to write a novel about his parents and how they came to the U.S. from Cuba. He was most likely the only player in Spring Training who read three Albert Camus books in a two-week period. Said Cardenas: “I’m a better baseball player because of it.”
* April 27 in Des Moines. I talked to Brett Jackson, Josh Vitters and Anthony Rizzo, who were on Triple-A Iowa roster, and could hear their enthusiasm in their voices, see their work ethic, and feel the energy.
* May 18 at Wrigley Field. Rumors were flying pre-game that this would be Kerry Wood’s last game. It couldn’t have been scripted any better. The right-hander threw three pitches, all strikes, for his final strikeout, then walked off the field and was greeted by his son, Justin. Wood didn’t disappear. His Wood Family Foundation was active, and treated students at Nash Elementary School on Chicago’s west side to coats, gloves, hats and gifts as well as a visit from Santa in December. It was a pleasure to cover Wood’s career from start to finish.
* June 26 at Wrigley Field. Anthony Rizzo is promoted from Iowa, and gets two hits in his Cubs debut, including a tie-breaking RBI double, in a victory over the Mets. Four days later, Rizzo hits his first home run for the Cubs, a go-ahead two-run shot, in a 3-2 victory over the Astros. On July 29, Rizzo notched a personal milestone, hitting his first walk-off home run in a 10-inning win over the Cardinals. Said Alfonso Soriano on Rizzo’s impact: “He’s changed everything.”
* July 4 in Atlanta. Cubs pitching coach Chris Bosio reveals he has a deal with closer Carlos Marmol. The pitcher is not allowed to shake off his catcher on any pitch, and if he does, Marmol owes Bosio a case of wine. Marmol compiles a 1.52 ERA in the second half.
* July 22 at St. Louis. Dale Sveum asked his starting lineup to click their heels as they took the field in a tribute to Ron Santo, who was inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame that day in Cooperstown. It was a terrific moment — and repeated at Wrigley Field on July 27 when the Cubs returned home.
* July 23 in St. Louis. It was Super Hero day, and players, coaches and Sveum dressed up as their favorites. Best costume? Jeff Baker and Reed Johnson as Epstein and Jed Hoyer, complete with cell phones to their ears.
* Aug. 5 in Los Angeles. Jackson and Vitters are promoted from Triple-A Iowa. Both struggled at the plate, but Jackson showed his value in the field Sept. 7 with an amazing catch then crash into the center field wall at PNC Park.
* Aug. 18 in Appleton, Wis. I watched Cuban outfielder Jorge Soler go 4-for-5 for Class A Peoria. He hit two singles, a double, and a very impressive home run to straight away center, drove in two runs, and stole a base. Can’t wait until he’s in right field at Wrigley.
* Sept. 8 at PNC Park, Pittsburgh. This was Jeff Samardzija’s last start of the season, and it showed how far he’s come. The right-hander gave up four hits in his first complete game, striking out nine. He could be the Opening Day starter in 2013.
* Oct. 3 at Wrigley Field. Bryan LaHair delivers a walkoff RBI single for a 5-4 win over the Astros in the Cubs’ season finale. It was a roller coaster ride for LaHair, who went from starting first baseman to All-Star to reserve. During batting practice on one road trip, a fan yelled congratulations to LaHair for making the All-Star team. Said LaHair: “No one can take that away from me.”
* Oct. 6 at Mesa, Ariz. I went to Instructional League to watch the young Cubs play, but this time was different. There was more energy, more noise — players and coaches picked their favorite song and it was part of batting practice background music — and lots of work. Watching the enthusiastic kids gives one optimism for the future.
* Sadly, said goodbye to Cubs Minor League pitching coach Tom Pratt and Wrigley Field umpire clubhouse attendant Jimmy Farrell. RIP.
– Carrie Muskat
It’s good to be a free agent third baseman right now. The Yankees joined the crowded market Monday with the news that Alex Rodriguez needed hip surgery. The Cubs also are in line, and Theo Epstein says they may “have to be creative” to fill the spot.
“[We might have to] rely on players who haven’t held down that position over 150 games in a the big leagues or rely on a platoon or rely on someone who is more of a middle of the field player who can provide plus defense over at third,” Epstein said Monday at the Winter Meetings in Nashville. “There are not a lot of obvious fits of every day third basemen in trade or free agents available right now. When that happens, you don’t throw in the white towel but try to be creative to piece it together.”
The Cubs are still talking to Ian Stewart, who was non-tendered on Friday. Now a free agent, Stewart is considering his options. Stewart batted .201 in 55 games last season, and missed most of the year because of left wrist surgery. Luis Valbuena filled in, and is another option for the Cubs for 2013, possessing all the right attributes, Epstein said. Valbuena batted .219, but was faring better in the Venezuelan Winter League, batting .325. The Cubs also could consider a platoon at third base, which is something Epstein favors. Having two players who can start at third helps the team’s bench, plus gives the manager more versatility. The Cubs also are considering other infielders who might not have been full-time third basemen because the free agent market is a little thin there.
“It’d be good to be Mike Schmidt right about now,” Epstein said.
They could use the Hall of Famer. Cubs third basemen combined to bat .201 last season, worst in the National League.
– Carrie Muskat
MLB commissioner Bud Selig, in Chicago Thursday for owner’s meetings, was asked if he was concerned about big market teams like the Cubs and Red Sox which are going into long-term rebuilding plans despite having revenues and ticket prices that are among the highest in the game.
“What the Cubs are doing, with Theo [Epstein], in my opinion, is they’re absolutely on the right track,” Selig told reporters. “I can’t be critical of that. I think I can use my own instinctive baseball judgment. As for the Red Sox, they’ve made a lot of changes. We’ll see what they do this winter. They do have a lot of talent left there. I like the way the Cubs are going. If I was running a franchise, I would follow that pattern to a ‘T.’
“It’s interesting how do you do things,” Selig said. “Spending money doesn’t guarantee anybody anything. I want to be very careful here. There are different ways to try to compete, and sometimes you’ve got to be realistic. Sometimes you have to say to yourself, `I’ve got to rebuild my scouting, my international.’ I’m a believer in that. I’d do it again if I was running a club, and I can’t be critical.”
– Carrie Muskat
The Cubs expect an update this week on Matt Garza, who was sidelined with an elbow injury. Garza made 18 starts before he was shut down in July with a stress reaction in his right elbow. He was to have a scan done on his arm. The Cubs signed Scott Baker on Tuesday, and are in the market for at least one more starter.
“We’re pursuing pitchers across the spectrum,” Theo Epstein said. “[We're looking at] some guys who might be classified as buy low, there might even be ‘buy high’ guys, some multi-year deals, some trades. We’re looking for pitchers who can step in and improve our rotation. If there are sound investments out there, whether they’re big or small, we’ll pursue them and try to sign them.”
– Carrie Muskat
Over the weekend, Theo Epstein and his young son Jack walked around Wrigley Field, and saw how the ivy on the outfield wall had changed colors from deep summer green to autumn’s reds and golds.
“It just flashed to how great it would be to be playing baseball at this time of year at Wrigley,” Epstein said Tuesday. “That’s the goal to get there and to get there in a way that allows us to do it year in and year out.”
Friday marks the one-year anniversary of when Epstein took over as the Cubs’ president of baseball operations. He didn’t plan on celebrating — the Cubs did lose 101 games in his first year at the helm — and said he was enthused by what’s transpired so far.
“I have a lot more gray hair now than I did a year ago — my wife reminds me of that all the time,” Epstein said. “I do feel really energized by a lot of the things that are going on here.”
One year ago, Epstein felt the Cubs had one player who projected as part of the core they’re trying to develop and that was shortstop Starlin Castro. Today, he feels there are at least half a dozen in the organization, including pitcher Jeff Samardzija, first baseman Anthony Rizzo, and prospects Javier Baez, Albert Almora and Jorge Soler.
What also was encouraging was watching future Cubs players in Instructional League in Arizona.
“That was a really nice feeling to be down there and see a lot of dedicated Cubs baseball [operations] personnel, some new, some old, all buying into the collective ‘Cubs way’ of doing things that they helped define, impacting a really talented group of young players,” Epstein said.
“I also wake up every day and recognize we lost 101 games and understand how painful that was for everybody, including me, and that provides further motivation to get out of this position that we’re in,” he said. “I think there were a lot of positives. That core, at least in my mind, went from one player to half a dozen, and if we can do that again in 2013, and we look up and we have close to a dozen players in our core, I’ll feel great about the overall health of the organization. I also want to make the playoffs and I understand that’s a big challenge, so I hope we hit on a few guys this winter and get off to a good start and we have one of those unexpected seasons.”
– Carrie Muskat