Archive for the ‘ Vine Line ’ Category

Cubs AFL Recap: 11/12/14

A trio of Cubs pitching prospects saw action, and a position player continued his stellar fall Wednesday in Mesa’s 6-5, 11-inning loss to Peoria. Here are some notes from yesterday’s Arizona Fall League game:

  • RHP C.J. Edwards got the start and went three scoreless innings, giving up one hit and one walk while striking out two batters. He finished the AFL season with a 1.80 ERA in 15 innings.
  • RF Bijan Rademacher connected on a two-run homer in the fifth. He also recorded an RBI groundout in the first, a third-inning walk and a game-tying RBI single in the ninth. He went 2-for-4 in the game and improved his line to .359/.400/.538 (AVG/OBP/SLG).
  • RHP Zach Cates recorded his third hold of the fall league, giving up no runs on two hits over an inning.
  • LHP Gerardo Concepcion surrendered two earned runs on three hits and two walks after taking over for Edwards in the fourth inning.

Mesa will play its final game of the season Thursday, when the Solar Sox host Glendale. First pitch is scheduled for 12:35 local time.

Cubs AFL Recap: 11/10/14

It was once again limited action for Cubs prospects as Mesa was downed by Glendale 5-2 Monday afternoon, with only one local farmhand in the lineup. Here are some notes from yesterday’s Arizona Fall League action:

  • DH Jacob Hannemann reached base in his first three at-bats, singling in the fourth, doubling in the sixth and singling again to lead off the eighth. The sixth inning hit was his fourth double of the fall. He finished 3-for-4 on the day.

Mesa hosts Surprise Tuesday afternoon, with first pitch set for 2:35 local time. Lineups have not been made available but fans can check at mlb.com as the game nears.

Cubs AFL Recap: 11/8/14

Mesa was on the losing end of an 11-4 decision to Surprise Saturday, with only a few Cubs prospects getting into the action. Here are some notes from Saturday’s Arizona Fall League game:

  • RF Bijan Rademacher singled in the sixth inning and scored two batters later for Mesa’s first run of the game. He finished 1-for-3 with a first-inning walk and a stolen base. Defensively, he recorded two outfield assists.
  • PR-SS Danny Lockhart entered the game as a pinch-runner in the sixth and scored a run later that inning. He finished 0-for-1 with a stolen base.

Mesa heads to Glendale Monday, with first pitch scheduled for 12:35 local time.

Hot Off the Press: The November issue goes inside Wrigley Field’s 1060 Project

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On April 23, 1914, a new and thoroughly modern ballpark opened up on Chicago’s North Side. When the gates were flung wide on the Federal League’s crown jewel, Weeghman Park, fans were treated to their first look at a beautiful steel and brick structure that was designed to stand the test of time. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t need a little help.

Over the last 100 years, the iconic ballpark at the corner of Clark and Addison has gone through countless enhancements, modernizations and expansions. The game moves fast, and major league teams need to keep pace. In 1914, Weeghman Park had only one level, the press box was on the roof, and the facility seated just north of 14,000 people. Not much of that would fly today.

Since then, Wrigley Field has been updated with everything from a second deck, to a hand-operated scoreboard, to new bleachers, to stadium lights, to an improved field drainage system, to a right-field video board. At every step along the way, the Friendly Confines has retained its charm and feel—and has been better off for the additions. A ballpark doesn’t get to be 100 years old without evolving to meet the demands of its sport.

There are pros and cons about playing in a landmark, century-old facility. On the plus side, there is no more beautiful place to watch a Major League Baseball game than the Friendly Confines, from the bricks and ivy of the outfield wall to being ensconced in a thriving urban neighborhood. But there are things the park is missing too, from both a fan and player perspective.

Most fans wouldn’t argue with more and better food options or a few extra restrooms here and there. The players could use a larger clubhouse facility, a better strength and conditioning center, and underground batting tunnels to use during games. And the front office would love additional revenue from things like new video boards and advertising to help keep the Cubs competitive for the foreseeable future.

Every other team in the fiercely competitive NL Central has opened a new facility since 2001, and, make no mistake, they all have these things.

This offseason begins the next, and most ambitious, step in the evolution of Wrigley Field. Over the next four years, the Cubs plan to preserve the beauty and historic features fans have cherished about the ballpark for decades while updating and improving the gameday experience for everyone.

In Vine Line‘s November issue, we get a first look at The 1060 Project and how the plan will come together between now and 2018. We talked to the people who are making the restoration happen, from Tom Ricketts and Theo Epstein to the project team, so fans know what to expect as the ballpark is enhanced.

“Wrigley has a very special vibe,” Ricketts said. “It’s a special place. We respect that. We think we understand what makes it so special, and all the things that people associate with this beautiful ballpark will be preserved. It will just have better amenities and better services and more information.”

We also jump into the 2014-15 offseason along with the Cubs players. After more than seven months of continuous routine and rigorous training, it’s an unusual experience for them to suddenly have so much free time on their hands. We stopped by the clubhouse in the season’s final days to find out how the Cubs handle the transition to the offseason.

Finally, for our monthly Wrigley 100 feature, we look back at one of the most beloved Cubs figures of all time, Harry Caray. The legendary broadcaster and Hall of Famer died in 1998, but he more than left his mark on the franchise in his 16 years in (and out) of the booth.

We’ll spend this offseason keeping you up-to-date on all the details of The 1060 Project in the pages of Vine Line, on the Web and on Twitter at @cubsvineline. Here’s to the next 100 years at Wrigley Field.

Cubs AFL Recap: 11/5/14

Mesa poured it on late with an 11-2 victory over Glendale Wendesday. The Solar Sox scored nine runs after the fifth inning. The Cubs’ top pitching prospect fared well on the bump and Mesa got some contributions out of the Cubs’ offensive farmhands. Here are some notes from yesterday’s Arizona Fall League action:

  • RHP C.J. Edwards got the start, giving up one earned run in two innings while striking out four.
  • 1B Dan Vogelbach had a pair of singles and drew a walk, finishing 2-for-4 on the day.
  • LF Bijan Rademacher recorded a base hit and a walk, along with two sac flies.
  • DH Danny Lockhart, making his second AFL appearance of the season, drove in a run on a sixth inning walk and scored later that inning. He was 0-for-3 on the day.

Mesa heads to Salt River Thursday, where they will see 2013 first-overall pick, right-hander Mark Appel. First pitch is scheduled for 6:35 local time. The game will also be broadcast on MLB Network.

 

Cubs AFL Recap: 11/4/14

Mesa scored three runs in the first inning, and that proved to be enough in a 3-1 win over Salt River Tuesday. Both offensively and on the mound, Cubs prospects played a big role in the victory. Here are some highlights from yesterday’s Arizona Fall League action:

  • RHP Armando Rivero gave up one earned run on one hit and a walk over five innings to pick up the win. He struck out four and improved to 2-4 on the season.
  • DH Dan Vogelbach drove in all three Solar Sox runs on a bases-loaded single to center, scoring Tony Renda (Nationals), Cal Towey (Angels) and Daniel Robertson (Rangers). He added a fifth-inning double, going 2-for-4 on the day.
  • RHP Ivan Pineyro pitched a scoreless eighth inning, striking out two against one hit.

Mesa is in action Wednesday afternoon, hosting Glendale. C.J. Edwards will make the start for the Solar Sox.

Now Playing: Joe Maddon makes his Cubs debut

It took all of about three minutes for Chicago sports fans to fall in love with new Cubs manager Joe Maddon. In his introductory press conference at the Cubby Bear, the spry and entertaining 60-year-old opened with a quick story about meeting Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer in his beloved RV (the Cousin Eddie) and closed by offering to buy the entire press conference a drink. On Monday, Maddon became the 54th manager in franchise history, when he agreed to terms on a five-year contract through the 2019 season.

A two-time AL Manager of the Year during his nine seasons with Tampa Bay (2006-14), Maddon joins the Cubs after guiding the Rays to four postseason appearances (2008, 2010-11, 2013), including the organization’s lone World Series appearance in 2008 when he earned his first Manager of the Year award. He earned the honor again in 2011.

Here’s a quick look at some of the highlights from Monday’s press conference.

Cubs agree to terms on 2015 contract with LHP Wada

Wada

(Photo by Stephen Green)

The Cubs and left-handed pitcher Tsuyoshi Wada came to terms on a deal for the 2015 season on Monday.

The 33-year-old Wada made 13 starts for the Cubs in his first major league action of his pro career. The southpaw went 4-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 69.1 innings. He signed a minor league deal with the Cubs last offseason and spent a majority of the season with Triple-A Iowa, where he went 10-6 with a 2.77 ERA (113.2 IP) in 19 appearances (18 starts) en route to earning Pacific Coast League All-Star honors. He received a call-up in late July and was part of the rotation for the remainder of the season.

Following a nine-year career with the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks in the Japan Pacific League, Wada signed a two-year major league deal with Baltimore in December of 2011. He suffered an elbow injury during Spring Training of 2012 that led to Tommy John ligament replacement surgery in May. He returned to action in June of 2013, and made 19 starts for Triple-A Norfolk that season, going 5-6 with a 4.03 ERA (46 ER/102.2 IP).

Wada went 107-61 with a 3.13 ERA (503 ER/1,444.2 IP) in 210 games, all but three as a starter, for Fukuoka from 2003-11, striking out 1,329 batters while walking just 395. He recorded 36 complete games, including eight shutouts, and was named the league’s Most Valuable Player in 2010, a season in which he was 17-8 with a 3.14 ERA (59 ER/169.1 IP) in 26 starts.

Cubs fire manager Rick Renteria

The Cubs today announced the firing of manager Rick Renteria.  The 52-year-old led the club during the 2014 season after being named skipper on Nov. 7, 2013. He was the 53rd manager in franchise history.

Cubs President Theo Epstein released the following statement:

Today we made the difficult decision to replace Rick Renteria as manager of the Chicago Cubs. On behalf of Tom Ricketts and Jed Hoyer, I thank Rick for his dedication and commitment, and for making the Cubs a better organization.

Rick’s sterling reputation should only be enhanced by his season as Cubs manager. We challenged Rick to create an environment in which our young players could develop and thrive at the big league level, and he succeeded. Working with the youngest team in the league and an imperfect roster, Rick had the club playing hard and improving throughout the season. His passion, character, optimism and work ethic showed up every single day.

Rick deserved to come back for another season as Cubs manager, and we said as much when we announced that he would be returning in 2015. We met with Rick two weeks ago for a long end-of-season evaluation and discussed plans for next season. We praised Rick to the media and to our season ticket holders. These actions were made in good faith.

Last Thursday, we learned that Joe Maddon—who may be as well suited as anyone in the industry to manage the challenges that lie ahead of us—had become a free agent. We confirmed the news with Major League Baseball, and it became public knowledge the next day. We saw it as a unique opportunity and faced a clear dilemma: be loyal to Rick or be loyal to the organization. In this business of trying to win a world championship for the first time in 107 years, the organization has priority over any one individual. We decided to pursue Joe.

While there was no clear playbook for how to handle this type of situation, we knew we had to be transparent with Rick before engaging with Joe. Jed flew to San Diego last Friday and told Rick in person of our intention to talk to Joe about the managerial job. Subsequently, Jed and I provided updates to Rick via telephone and today informed him that we will indeed make a change.

We offered Rick a choice of other positions with the Cubs, but he is of course free to leave the organization and pursue opportunities elsewhere. Armed with the experience of a successful season and all the qualities that made him our choice a year ago, Rick will no doubt make an excellent major league manager when given his next chance.

Rick often said he was the beneficiary of the hard work of others who came before him. Now, in the young players he helped, we reap the benefits of his hard work as we move forward. He deserved better and we wish him nothing but the best.

We have clung to two important ideals during our three years in Chicago. The first is to always be loyal to our mission of building the Cubs into a championship organization that can sustain success. The second is to be transparent with our fans. As painful as the last week was at times, we believe we stayed true to these two ideals in handling a sensitive situation. To our fans: we hope you understand, and we appreciate your continued support of the Cubs.

Cubs AFL Recap: 10/30/14

Jacob Hannemann had another nice day at the plate, but a pair of Cubs struggled on the bump in a 7-5 loss to Scottsdale Thursday. Here are some notes from yesterday’s Arizona Fall League action:

  • LF Jacob Hannemann had a pair of doubles, finishing 2-for-4. He drove in two with two outs in the fourth inning, scoring Tony Renda (Nationals) and Spencer Kieboom (Nationals). His second double came in the ninth, scoring Renda again. He also recorded an outfield assist.
  • RHP Armando Rivero got roughed up in 0.2 innings, giving up two earned runs on two hits and two walks and picking up the loss.
  • RHP Zach Cates gave up four runs on four hits and a walk in one inning of relief.

Mesa takes on Glendale on the road Friday, with first pitch scheduled at 12:35.

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