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Have a drink with David DeJesus and Anthony Rizzo

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

If you’re in the Phoenix area this week for Spring Training, join Cubs outfielder David DeJesus, first baseman Anthony Rizzo and other big league ballplayers for a drink—for a good cause, of course.

The David DeJesus Family Foundation will be hosting a Celebrity Bartending Night on Wednesday, March 20, at the American Junkie Bar in Scottsdale, Ariz., to benefit families in need. Featured celebrity bartenders include Darwin Barney, Anthony Rizzo, Travis Wood, Adam Eaton, Javy Guerra, David Hernandez, Casey Kelly, George Kontos and Wade Miley.

The event goes from 9-11 p.m., and general admission tickets are available for purchase at the door for $50 per person. VIP tickets are $150 and include a preparty cocktail hour from 8- 9 p.m. with food and a private mix-and-mingle as the players learn how to bartend.

“We are excited to raise funds to support our mission from this fun event,” said DeJesus. “My wife, Kim, and I started the David DeJesus Family Foundation and are excited to be continuing its growth here in Arizona.”

The event is being hosted in conjunction with Issues Concerning Athletes and MiCamp Merchant Services. American Junkie Bar is located at 4363 N. 75th St., in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The David DeJesus Family Foundation was created by Cubs outfielder David DeJesus and his wife, Kim, in order to help families in crisis in Chicago and in parts of the world where people lack basic human needs.  DDFF is committed to helping alleviate suffering for those that face devastation due to illness, poverty or disaster as well as those who seek a voice to be heard. In particular, DDFF has been actively involved in the fight against ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Cubs sign 21 pre-arbitration players

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

The Cubs agreed to terms with all 21 pre-arbitration eligible players currently on the organization’s 40-man roster Monday. Terms were not disclosed.

Right-handed pitchers Michael Bowden, Alberto Cabrera, Rafael Dolis, Trey McNutt, Hector Rondon, Arodys Vizcaino and Robert Whitenack; and lefties Brooks Raley, Chris Rusin and Travis Wood were all signed to new deals.

Catchers Welington Castillo and Steve Clevenger; infielders Darwin Barney, Junior Lake, Anthony Rizzo, Christian Villanueva, Josh Vitters and Logan Watkins; and outfielders Brett Jackson, Dave Sappelt and Matt Szczur also earned updated contracts.

Cubs acquire two minor league RHPs for Campana

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(Photo by Stephen Green)

The Chicago Cubs today acquired minor league right-handed pitchers Erick Leal and Jesus Castillo from the Arizona Diamondbacks for popular outfielder Tony Campana.

“Both of them we like a lot, both are projectable,” said Cubs GM Jed Hoyer. “We did a lot of work with our scouts down in the D.R. and a had lot of contact with Arizona. But we feel really good about getting two projectable arms for Tony. Obviously, it’s difficult to lose Tony from the organization. [He's] a great person, a fantastic base stealer and a guy we really enjoyed getting to know. But ultimately you can only protect 40 guys on the roster, and he got caught up in that roster crunch.”

Leal, 17, went 6-2 with a 2.44 ERA (19 ER/70.0 IP) in 14 appearances (12 starts) for the Dominican Summer League Diamondbacks last season. The 6-foot-3, 180-pounder struck out 70 and walked only 11 batters in 70.0 innings—an average of 9.0 strikeouts and only 1.4 walks per nine innings. Leal also allowed only one home run in 70.0 innings pitched and posted a 0.99 WHIP. He is a native of Carabobo, Valencia, Venezuela.

Castillo, 17, went 2-4 with a 5.40 ERA (28 ER/46.2 IP) in 14 appearances (eight starts) for the DSL Diamondbacks last season. The 6-foot-2, 165-pound Castillo struck out 41 and walked 17 in 46.2 innings pitched, while allowing only three home runs. He is a native of San Feliz, Tachira, Venezuela.

Hoyer said Leal is expected to pitch in the U.S. this year, but Castillo will likely stay and play in the Dominican Summer League for another year.

Campana, 26, batted .262 (83-for-317) with nine doubles, one home run, 54 stolen bases, a .306 on-base percentage and a .300 slugging percentage in 184 games with the Cubs covering the last two seasons. He was crowded out of the Cubs outfield this year following the acquisitions of Nate Schierholtz and Scott Hairston.

‘You never want to lose players you think have value, and Tony certainly has value,” Hoyer said. “But as you get more and more good players on your 40-man roster, you’re going to have to make harder and harder decisions. And I hope we have a lot of hard decisions ahead because that means our roster is getting better.”

Cubs Convention LIVE: Stats Sunday with WGN

Last one of the 2013 Cubs Convention: Len Kasper, Jim Deshaies and Bob Vorwald of WGN talking about some more meaningful statistics that they’ve introduced to their broadcasts. Here we go!

10:32 Deshaies, the Cubs’ new TV color commentator, saw the transition to advanced stats when he was with Houston, as they overhauled their front office under GM Jeff Luhnow. He’s a believer in the kind of impact they can make on a team.

Kasper talks about how some statistics can be misleading, specifically citing Rob Deer who had great on-base percentages despite high strikeout totals and low batting averages. He compares him once again to Adam Dunn and says that, if Deer were to play today, he’d probably have been valued much more.

10:35 Vorwald brings up former Orioles manager Earl Weaver, who passed away yesterday. He was ahead of his time in many ways, preaching a philosophy of preserving outs and taking bases. Known to be more about three-run homers than small ball, Weaver understood how outs were a team’s most precious resource.

10:36 Vorwald introduces the so-called “baseball card stats”: home runs, runs batted in, batting average. They’re important to fans and not going anywhere, but Kasper emphasizes that RBIs are a function of opportunities. Deshaies says that he doesn’t want to diminish a guy who gets 100 RBIs—that probably means he had a good year regardless—but that it tends to be overvalued. “If you’re hitting in the middle of the order, you’re probably a pretty good guy to begin with. But you have to separate the good from the very good [by looking at some more meaningful numbers].”

(more…)

1000 Words: Matt Garza at the Cubs Convention

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Now Playing: Cubs, Kerry Wood break ground on new field

For years, Chicago Public League baseball teams haven’t had a true home-field advantage when the high school playoffs come around. Without a serviceable field to play on, city teams have been forced to trek out to the suburbs when the single-elimination tournament starts up each May. But that’s all about to change.

The Chicago Cubs Charities and the Wood Family Foundation broke ground on Kerry Wood Cubs Field Thursday, a high school baseball diamond located at Clark Park near Lane Tech High School about a mile west of Wrigley Field. The $5 million project should be completed in the first half of 2013. The stadium will seat 1,100 people and will have lights for potential night games.

Vine Line was there for the ceremony, where former Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood and Cubs co-owners Tom and Laura Ricketts spoke of the excitement surrounding this new venture.

1000 Words: Alfonso Soriano gives back to fans

(Photo by Stephen Green)

Prior to Wednesday’s season finale, Cubs players gave back to the fans by tossing baseballs into the stands. While Alfonso Soriano handed balls out to the front row, Anthony Rizzo, Shawn Camp and others showed off their arms by hurling balls into the upper deck.

1000 Words: Starlin Castro is gunning to play 162


(Photo by Stephen Green)

With only three games remaining, Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro is poised to put his name in the franchise record books. Castro has appeared in 159 games this season, and has started all but one.

No Cubs shortstop has ever played in all 162 games of the regular season. Ivan DeJesus holds the franchise record at shortstop, playing in 160 games in both 1978 and 1979.

Darwin Barney looks to set MLB record

(Photo by Stephen Green)

Darwin Barney’s defense has been the talk of the team this season for the Cubs. As his consecutive games without an error streak has continued to grow, defensive records at second base have fallen at an equally quick pace, all the hands—and glove—of the 26-year-old. Franchise records were topped first, followed shortly by National League marks. But on Friday, it will be Placido Polanco’s MLB single-season mark of 141 games without an error for a second baseman with the target on its back. Barney tied the total on Thursday and will likely be in the lineup to set the new milestone.

Vine Line took a look at some of the records at the other positions around the diamond. Below is a chart mapping both consecutive errorless games in a career and in a season, according to Baseball-Almanac.com.

Deadline dealing

Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer’s first non-waiver trade deadline as members of the Cubs passed at 3 p.m. CST Tuesday with a flurry of activity. The front office made three trades in the last 24 hours, and they waited until the last minute to complete a deal sending away the team’s biggest trade chip, Ryan Dempster. Here’s a recap of the Cubs’ moves and a summary of what they received in the deals.

Cubs send left-handed starter Paul Maholm and outfielder Reed Johnson to the Braves for right-handed pitchers Arodys Vizcaino and Jaye Chapman

What they got:

Arodys Vizcaino: Baseball America rated the right-hander the Braves’ No. 2 preseason prospect and the 40th best prospect in all of baseball. Vizcaino, who has a live arm with a fastball that touches the high 90s, was the centerpiece of the Braves 2009 deal that sent Javier Vazquez to the Yankees. He’ll miss all of 2012 recovering from Tommy John surgery, but should be ready to go by early next season.

2011 stats: 5-5, 3.06 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 9.3 K/9, 97 IP at three minor league levels;
1-1, 4.67 ERA, 17 K, 17.1 IP for Braves

Jaye Chapman: The 25-year-old has climbed his way through the minor league ranks since he was drafted in 2006. In two seasons at Triple-A Gwinnett, the reliever has struck out more than one-fourth of the batters he’s faced, and he’s only allowed three home runs in 2012.

2012 stats: 3-6, 3.52 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 10.1 K/9, 53.2 IP at Triple-A Gwinnett

Cubs send catcher Geovany Soto to the Rangers for right-hander Jake Brigham

What they got:

Jake Brigham: A sixth-round pick in the 2006 draft, Brigham went 5-5 with a 4.28 ERA in 21 starts for Double-A Frisco this season. Baseball America rated him the seventh-best righty reliever in the Texas farm system. Last season, he went 3-1 with a 3.60 ERA in 21 appearances.

2012 stats: 5-5, 4.28 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 8.4 K/9, 124.0 IP at Double-A Frisco

Cubs send right-handed pitcher Ryan Dempster to the Rangers for right-handed pitcher Kyle Hendricks and infielder Christian Villanueva

What they got:

Christian Villanueva: Baseball America rated Villanueva the Rangers’ eighth-best prospect prior to the season. The publication called him “an easy plus defender with soft hands and easy actions.” The 22-year-old stole 32 bases last season in Low-A and finished with a .278 batting average.

2012 stats: .285/.356/.421, 10 home runs, 59 RBI, 9 SB, 425 PA at Single-A Myrtle Beach

Kyle Hendricks: The 2011 eighth-round draft pick had a 5-8 record with 2.82 ERA in 20 starts for Single-A Myrtle Beach this season, earning him a spot on the Carolina League All-Star team. He spent last season at both Low-A Spokane and Double-A Frisco.

2012 stats: 5-8, 2.82 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 7.7 K/9, 15 BB, 130.2 IP at Single-A Myrtle Beach

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