(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
The Cubs named former major leaguer Eric Hinske the club’s new first base coach Tuesday, rounding out new manager Rick Renteria’s 2014 coaching staff.
Hinske, 36, concluded his 12-year big league career in 2013 with Arizona. Originally selected by the Cubs in the 17th round of the 1998 draft, Hinske was the 2002 AL Rookie of the Year with the Blue Jays and made three straight World Series appearances with Boston in 2007, Tampa Bay in 2008 and the Yankees in 2009. Throughout his playing career, he had a sterling reputation as a clubhouse leader.
He was a career .249 hitter with 137 homers and 240 doubles. The former corner infielder/outfielder played 1,387 games with Toronto (2002-06), Boston (2006-07), Tampa Bay (2008), Pittsburgh (2009), the Yankees (2009), Atlanta (2010-12) and Arizona (2013).
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The Cubs picked up catcher George Kottaras from the Royals in exchange for cash considerations Tuesday.
Kottaras, 30, served as Kansas City’s backup catcher, starting 29 games in 2013. He hit .180 in 100 at-bats with four doubles, five homers and 12 RBI. He also drew 24 walks in 126 plate appearances—the most in the majors among players with 150 plate appearances or fewer—and finished with a .349 on-base percentage.
The left-handed hitter was designated for assignment on Nov. 22. In his five-year major league career, he has a .214 average and has drawn 115 walks in 820 plate appearances (.324 on-base percentage). He previously played for Boston (2008-09), Milwaukee (2010-12), Oakland (2012) and Kansas City (2013).
The Ontario, Canada native was originally selected in the 20th round of the 2002 draft and represented Greece in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.
Pitching coach Chris Bosio will be back for his third season with the club. (Photo by Stephen Green)
With the Rick Renteria era now two weeks old, the Cubs officially named the majority of their major league coaching staff Friday.
Pitching coach Chris Bosio, bullpen coach Lester Strode and staff assistant Franklin Font all return to the organization. Mike Borzello will also be back, but with an expanded role as the club’s catching and strategy coach.
Joining the field staff in 2014 will be Brandon Hyde (bench coach), Gary Jones (third base/infield coach), Bill Mueller (hitting coach), Mike Brumley (assistant hitting coach) and Jose Castro (quality assurance coach). Jaron Madison will replace Hyde as the director of player development.
Bosio, 50, returns to the club for his third season. This is his third stint as a pitching coach (previously with the Devil Rays and Brewers). He spent 11 years playing in the majors, most notably with the Mariners.
Strode, 55, returns for his eighth season as the bullpen coach and his 26th with the organization. Before his current role, he spent 11 seasons as a minor league pitching coordinator.
Font, 36, returns for his third season at the major league level and 20th overall with the organization. Prior to joining the big league staff, Font spent three years as the minor league infield coordinator. He also played within the organization before becoming a staff assistant at Single-A Daytona in 2001.
Borzello, 43, is now in his third season with the Cubs. He was previously with the Dodgers from 2008-11 as a bullpen catcher and also served that role with the Yankees from 1996-2007.
Hyde, 40, enters his third season with the Cubs and will begin his second stint as a major league bench coach, previously working under Jack McKeon with the Marlins for 1.5 years. Hyde joined the Cubs in December 2011 as the minor league field coordinator and was named director of player development in August 2012.
Jones, 53, spent the previous 11 years in the Padres organization, including the last seven as the minor league infield coordinator. He was a first base coach with the Athletics in 1998. Jones managed for 15 seasons in the minors, acquiring four minor league manager of the year awards.
Mueller, 42, has spent the last six seasons as a special assistant in the Dodgers front office. The 2003 AL batting champ also served as an interim hitting coach for the Dodgers in 2007. He spent 11 years in the majors playing with the Giants, Cubs, Red Sox and Dodgers, finishing with a .293 career average.
Brumley, 51, spent the last four seasons as an assistant hitting coach with the Mariners. From 1997-2009, he served as a minor league manager, field coordinator and instructor with Seattle. He spent seven years playing in the majors from 1987-94.
Castro, 55, spent 25 years as a minor league hitting coordinator or hitting coach for the Royals, Mariners, Marlins, Padres and Expos. He was also an interim hitting coach in 2008 for the Mariners.
The Cubs have not announced a first base coach.
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The Cubs and Rick Renteria came to terms on a three-year deal with club options for 2017 and 2018 Thursday, making the 51-year-old California native the 53rd manager in the franchise’s history.
Renteria comes to the organization with 30 years of pro baseball experience, most recently serving as the Padres’ bench coach from 2011-13 and first base coach from 2008-10. He also spent eight seasons as a minor league manager with San Diego as well as the Marlins and played professionally for 13 seasons. His most recent managing experience comes from his time in charge of Team Mexico during the 2013 World Baseball Classic, where his team went 1-2.
After retiring from playing, Renteria managed the Marlins’ Single-A affiliate Brevard County in 1998. The following season he was named the Midwest League Manager of the Year after leading Florida’s Kane County club to a league-best 78-59 record. He spent two more seasons with the Marlins organization before joining the Padres in 2003 as a coach with Single-A Lake Elsinore, where he later managed from 2004-06. He was promoted to manage the Triple-A Portland team in 2007 before earning a job on the major league staff as a first base coach in 2008.
Though Renteria does not have big league managerial experience, he does have a strong background in player development.
Originally selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first round of the 1980 draft, Renteria was a career .237 hitter with 20 doubles, four home runs and 41 RBI in 184 major league contests. He primarily played second base and third base in the majors but also saw some time at shortstop and left field.
Former manager Dale Sveum was fired on Sept. 30.
(Photo by Dave Durochik)
On Thursday, the Cubs officially announced they have come to terms with outfielder Ryan Sweeney on a two-year deal, originally reported to be worth $3.5 million, with a team option for 2016 worth $2.5 million.
The 28-year-old signed with the Cubs in April of this year after being released by the Red Sox at the conclusion of Spring Training. Sweeney spent the first month of the season playing for the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, where he hit .337/.396/.627 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with six homers in 83 at-bats before a May 6 call-up.
In 70 games with the Cubs, the Cedar Rapids, Iowa, native hit .266/.324/.448 with six homers, 13 doubles and 19 RBI. Before breaking a rib during a June 29 game in Seattle, he had a .295/.342/.527 line in 121 plate appearances.
Sweeney played all three outfield positions, but spent 45 games in center (vs. 10 in left and four in right) and will likely compete for a starting outfield spot heading into Spring Training.
Albert Almora will represent the Cubs as a member of the Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League. (Photo by Jason Wise)
The Arizona Fall League is upon us. Though many will be tuned into the MLB playoffs for the next few weeks, the AFL is the crystal ball of baseball, giving fans a glimpse of the game’s future stars.
Twenty-five of MLB’s top 100 prospects (according to MLB.com) will be participating in Arizona action, headlined by individuals like the Twins’ Byron Buxton and Pittsburgh’s Jameson Taillon. Even with those two budding stars, no organization has received more hype for the depth it’s bringing to the league than the Cubs. Three of the AFL’s top 10 prospects are from Chicago’s organization: Albert Almora, Jorge Soler and Kris Bryant.
Each member of that trio has received his fair share of hype, but a few other Cubs prospects who had solid 2013 campaigns are hoping to give the Mesa Solar Sox a boost as well.
Albert Almora, OF — The 2012 first-round pick and No. 21 prospect in baseball impressed when healthy this season. He hit .329/.376/.466 (AVG/OBP/SLG) in 61 games for Class-A Kane County. But he also missed the first month of the season, recovering from a broken hamate bone, and then was out of action from August-on, dealing with groin issues.
Dallas Beeler, RHP — Beeler got off to a fast start in 2013 with Double-A Tennessee, going 4-2 with a 3.13 ERA in 54.2 innings. But in late May, the right-hander tore a tendon in the middle finger of his pitching hand, shelving him for the season. The 24-year-old, 6-foot-5 starter is believed to be healthy and will pitch in Arizona to make up for a lost season.
Kris Bryant, 3B — Bryant was as advertised at the plate this year for the Cubs affiliates. The 2013 first-round pick (and No. 35 prospect in baseball) hit a combined .336/.390/.688 with nine homers and 14 doubles over 36 games with the instructional squad, Short-Season Boise and Daytona. Many eyes will be trained on the 21-year-old this fall.
Lendy Castillo, RHP — Not many players who have a full major league season under their belt play in the AFL. A 2011 Rule 5 pick, the Cubs were forced to put the reliever on their major league roster during the 2012 season or forfeit him back to Philadelphia, his original organization. Castillo spent the majority of 2013 with Kane County before a late-July promotion to Daytona. His 39 walks in 84.1 innings definitely contributed to his lofty 5.87 ERA, but he also fanned 8.1 batters per nine innings and 9.4 per nine in his 20-inning stint with the D-Cubs.
Wes Darvill, IF — The 22-year-old Canadian played all over the diamond for both Kane County and Daytona this season, seeing time at second base, third base, shortstop and left field. Darvill spent the first month of the season with the Cougars before a promotion to the D-Cubs. He hit a combined .267/.339/.380 in 94 games and finished second on the Daytona squad with five triples (seven on the season).
Matt Loosen, RHP — Loosen dominated hitters at High-A Daytona, going 5-2 with 56 strikeouts and a 1.83 ERA in 54.0 innings (including a no-hitter). But he struggled to find that same success in Tennessee. The 24-year-old righty was 3-3 with a 6.14 ERA, though he still managed to fan 60 batters in 66.0 innings. He showed promise late into the season, giving up one earned run in his last three starts combined and striking out 18 batters in 16.1 innings.
Armando Rivero, RHP — Rivero is a bit of a mystery for the Cubs. Signed out of Cuba prior to this season, the 25-year-old right-hander threw just 30.1 innings of full-season minor league ball. In all, he totaled a 4.15 ERA at Kane County, Daytona and Tennessee, and struck out 45. Rivero’s outings could be some of the more closely monitored by the Cubs during play in Arizona.
Jorge Soler, OF — Shin and leg issues kept the 21-year-old Cuban out of action after the High-A Florida State League All-Star Game, but Soler still managed to make an impact. In 55 games, the corner outfielder hit .281/.343/.467 with eight homers and 13 doubles in 210 at-bats. Baseball’s No. 25 prospect will hopefully rack up some innings and plate appearances to get back on track for 2014.
(Photo by Jeffrey Phelps/Getty Images)
The Cubs acquired infielder Mat Gamel off waivers from the Brewers Thursday.
Gamel missed all of 2013 recovering from a torn ACL suffered in mid-February. The 28-year-old has spent parts of the last five seasons with the Brewers’ major league club, posting a .229 average with six homers, 11 doubles and 29 RBI in 106 games. In his big league career, Gamel has seen action at first base (22 games), third base (35 games) and in left field (three games). If healthy, he could provide the Cubs depth at third base and a potential backup for Anthony Rizzo at first.
The 2011 season was Gamel’s last full year of baseball (he tore the same ACL 21 games into the ’12 campaign). He hit .310 with 28 homers, 29 doubles and 96 RBI in 128 games for Triple-A Nashville.
The Florida native was the Brewers’ fourth-round pick in 2005 and earned the Topps Minor League Player of the Year award in 2008 after hitting .329 with 19 homers and 35 doubles in Double-A Huntsville.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
The Cubs announced that they have fired manager Dale Sveum, after two seasons with the organization.
“Today, we made the very difficult decision to relieve Dale Sveum of his duties as Cubs manager,” Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein said in the official press release. “Dale has been a committed leader for this team the last two seasons, and I want to thank him for all of his dedication and hard work. I have a lot of admiration for Dale personally, and we all learned a lot from the way he has handled the trying circumstances of the last two years, especially the last two weeks, with strength and dignity.”
Sveum, 49, finished with a 127-196 record including a 61-101 record in 2012, the first 100-loss season for the Cubs since 1966. He posted a .393 win percentage in his time at the helm. He had one season left on a three-year deal that he signed in November, 2011.
“Today’s decision to pursue a new manager was not made because of wins and losses. Our record is a function of our long-term building plan and the moves we have made—some good, a few we would like back—to further this strategy,” Epstein said. “[GM] Jed [Hoyer] and I take full responsibility for that. Today’s decision was absolutely not made to provide a scapegoat for our shortcomings or to distract from our biggest issue—a shortage of talent at the major league level. We have been transparent about what we are, and what we are not yet. Today’s decision, which was painful for all of us, was made to move us closer to fulfilling our ultimate long-term vision for the Cubs.”
Sveum came to the organization after spending six seasons as a coach for the Brewers, including 12 games as the interim manager in 2008. Prior to his time in Milwaukee, Sveum served as a coach for the Red Sox in 2004-05. He played 12 seasons in the majors (1986-94, 96-99), spending most of his career in Milwaukee.
There is no official word on a replacement at this time.
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
The Cubs claimed right-handed pitcher Daniel Bard off waivers from Boston Wednesday. To make room for the 28-year-old, the Cubs designated outfielder Cole Gillespie for assignment.
Originally selected in the first round of the 2006 draft by the Red Sox, Bard owns a 10-19 career record with a 3.67 ERA over 257.1 innings. He has made 10 starts since his debut in 2009, but he’s been most effective out of the ‘pen.
From 2009-11, Bard worked exclusively in reief, posting a 2.88 ERA over 197.0 innings. He struck out 213 batters and limited opposing hitters to a .190 average.
In 2012, he was converted to a starter, a role in which he has struggled. As a result, he has spent most of the last two seasons in the minors. He made 17 big league appearances last year (10 starts) and finished 5-6 with a 6.22 ERA. Bard has made just two major league appearances this season, allowing one run in one inning.
For his career, Bard has a 3.24 ERA in 201 relief appearances compared to a 5.30 ERA in 10 starts.
Gillespie is hitting .203 in 59 at-bats with the Giants and Cubs this season.
(Photo by Rich Pilling/WBCI/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
The Cubs brought up right-handed pitcher Chang-Yong Lim from Triple-A Iowa Wednesday morning.
To make room on the 40-man roster, right-handed reliever Michael Bowden was designated for assignment.
The 37-year-old Lim signed a two-year deal this offseason while recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2012. At four levels this year, the righty had no record and posted a 1.61 ERA in 22.1 innings, including five starts. He fanned 24 batters and walked seven while limiting opponents to a .173 average.
The South Korea native pitched 17 seasons in Korea (1996-2007) and Japan (2008-12), and represented his country in the 2000 Summer Olympics and the 2009 World Baseball Classic.
Bowden was 1-3 with a 4.30 ERA in 34 appearances this year for the Cubs.