Results tagged ‘ Jed Hoyer ’

1000 Words: Jorge Soler at Wrigley

(Photo by Stephen Green)

The Cubs brass got a glimpse of the future on Saturday, as Cuban import Jorge Soler paid his first visit to Wrigley Field. As it turns out, it was actually the power hitting outfielder’s first visit to any major league stadium. Soler signed a $30 million deal with the Cubs in June and finished the season at Single-A Peoria, where he hit .338 with three home runs and 15 RBI in 20 games.

Now Playing: Anthony Rizzo Safe at Home

Since his June 26 call-up to the big leagues, Anthony Rizzo has certainly lived up Cubs fans’ expectations. In just 57 games, his highlights include driving in the game-winning RBI in three of his first five games, hitting a dramatic walk-off home run against the Cardinals and capping an improbable rally last night with a key ninth inning double to tie the game 11-11 with Milwaukee.

Rizzo’s early success with the Cubs made us wonder about the goals he set for himself heading into the season. Vine Line looked back at our Spring Training conversation with the slugging first baseman in which he talked about coming to the Cubs, saying goodbye to the minor leagues and playing at Wrigley Field.

Cubs, Castro finalize deal

All season long the Cubs front office has stressed the importance of keeping the organization’s core of young talent intact. They made a big step in that direction Tuesday, finalizing an extension with shortstop Starlin Castro.

The Cubs and the 22-year-old agreed to a seven-year contract extension worth $60 million with a club option for the eighth year. The deal will keep the shortstop in pinstripes at least until he turns 30.

“The way it was looking, Starlin was going to be a free agent far too early,” Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said Tuesday. “He’s one of the players we’re building around and we’re excited to have him as a Cub for a long time.”

Castro, a two-time All-Star, led the National League in hits last season and is one of the game’s most exciting players.

“It’s great, especially for my family. Now my family is going to be better,” Castro said. “It’s life-changing.”

The Cubs signed the Dominican-born shortstop in 2006. He played 125 games as a 20-year-old in 2010 and has led the NL in hits with 486 in that time.

“I feel really, really happy because it’s the organization that signed me when I was a little kid and I don’t want to go nowhere,” Castro said.

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

Red Sox Nation storms into Wrigley

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For just the second time ever during the regular season and first time since 2005, the Red Sox will take to the Wrigley Field grass this weekend. The all-time regular-season series is knotted at 3-all, but the Cubs took two of three at the Friendly Confines back in 2005.

The series marks a reunion of sorts for Cubs baseball president Theo Epstein. Epstein acted as the Red Sox’s general manager from 2002-11 before taking his position with the North Siders and is largely responsible for the current makeup of Boston’s lineup. GM Jed Hoyer and senior vice president Jason McLeod also spent time over the last decade in Sox upper management.

While both squads currently sit at the bottom of their respective divisions, there’s no shortage of excitement when these historic teams get together.

Hot off the presses: Vine Line May issue featuring Jeff Samardzija

Baseball has always been about reinvention. Even at the major league level, players change positions all the time.

But few have done so with the regularity, and consistent success, of Cubs No. 3 starter Jeff Samardzija. After an outstanding career on the gridiron at Notre Dame—and the promise of an NFL career as a wide receiver—Samardzija changed course when he was drafted in the fifth round by the Chicago Cubs.

After a few up-and-down years, the 6’5″, 225-pound flamethrower arrived as a major league pitcher in 2011, posting a 2.97 ERA in 75 appearances out of the bullpen. But there was one problem—Samardzija saw himself as a starter. So when the 2012 offseason rolled around, he headed to Arizona and dedicated himself to securing a spot in the Cubs rotation.

Five months later, Samardzija joined Matt Garza and Ryan Dempster as stalwarts in the Cubs biggest area of strength—their starting rotation. In the May issue of Vine Line, we look at Samardzija’s long road to the Cubs rotation, his mile-long competitive streak and how be became a more complete pitcher.

We also have an exclusive Q&A with the man who is reinventing what it means to play baseball the “Cubs Way,” General Manager Jed Hoyer. We go in depth about why he wanted the Cubs job (which he calls “the best in sports”) and his expectations for 2012 and beyond.

“If you acquire players who play hard—and we have a manager who is going to stress that—if you do the little things well, you always have that chance to catch lightning in a bottle,” Hoyer said.

Finally, we go inside the numbers with four key players—and the advanced metrics that explain why they are so important to the Cubs success.

This season, reinvent the way you get news from your favorite team by subscribing to If you live in the Chicago area, pick up the May issue at select Barnes and Noble, Jewel, Walgreens and Meier locations. Or subscribe to Vine Line today.

Old faces in new places

When looking at the 2011-12 offseason, there is one word that best describes the Chicago Cubs from top to bottom: Change.

The Ricketts group hired Theo Epstein to act as President of Baseball Operations and subsequently hired a new GM in Jed Hoyer. Payroll was cut in favor of stocking the farm system, and probably most important, many player moves were made. While the Cubs signed a plethora of young talent hoping to help the organization in the future, if not this year, many notable Cubs became “former Cubs” either by trade or free agency.

Let’s see how some of the old faces have fared thus far with their new teams:

Andrew Cashner: Cubs 2008-11; Traded to Padres Jan. 2012
Spring Training line: 8 IP, 11 K’s, 6 HA, ER, 1.13 ERA

Tyler Colvin: Cubs 2006-11; Traded to Rockies Dec. 2011
Spring Training line: 41 AB, HR, 10 RBI, 16 hits, .390/.429/.610

Sean Marshall: Cubs 2003-11; Traded to Reds Dec. 2011
Spring Training line: 8 IP, 12 K’s, 5 HA, 4 ER, 4.50 ERA

Carlos Pena: Cubs 2011; Free agent signed with Rays Jan. 2012
Spring Training line: 28 AB, 0 HR, RBI, 4 hits, .143/.333/.250

Aramis Ramirez: Cubs 2003-11; Free agent signed with Brewers Dec. 2011
Spring Training line: 32 AB, HR, 2 RBI, 8 hits, .250/.273/.406

Carlos Zambrano: Cubs 1997-11; Traded to Marlins Jan. 2012
Spring Training line: 13.2 IP, 17 K’s, 14 HA, 7 ER, 4.61 ERA

Hot off the presses: Vine Line on the farm

It’s February and that means baseball is back! Well … almost. Cubs pitchers and catchers report to Mesa, Ariz., Feb. 18, and the first Cactus League game is March 4. Cubs management has spent the entire offseason strengthening the team, and now we get to see how they look in the hot Arizona sun.

They say the youth shall lead us, so Vine Line kicks off the Cactus League season with our annual Minor League Prospectus issue. Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have pledged to make the team younger and more athletic, and that all starts on the farm. We profile the names you need to know in the Cubs minor league system, from top draft picks like Brett Jackson and Javier Baez to flamethrowers Dillon Maples and Tony Zych.

We also go in-depth with Senior Vice President of Scouting and Player Development Jason McLeod to discuss his experience in Boston and San Diego, his shared history with Epstein and Hoyer, and how he will construct a top-notch farm system here in Chicago. He already helped build a World Series winner in Boston, and he’s working hard to create the same foundation on the North Side.

“It comes back to who your scouts are, how good they are at evaluating players, how good your system and processes are on cultivating that information, and using it to make the best decisions you can,” McLeod said. “That is what our focus is going to be on.”

Finally, if December was about adding bats, last month was all about the arms race. Cubs beat writer Bruce Miles looks at the many additions to the pitching staff and how they’ll benefit the team this season.

If you live in the Chicago area, you can grab the February issue at select Barnes and Noble, Jewel, Walgreens and Meier locations. Or subscribe to Vine Line today. We’ll see you in Mesa!

2012 Cubs Convention kicks off this weekend

The 27th Annual Cubs Convention will be held this weekend, Jan. 13-15, at the Hilton Chicago, located at 720 S. Michigan Ave., and Vine Line will be there blogging all weekend to keep you up to date on the latest news and happenings.

The three-day fanfest gives Cubs faithful the opportunity to interact with more than 80 current and former Cubs players, coaches and prospects. This year’s event features a number of new family friendly sessions and activities, including an interactive baseball area hosted by the Illinois Baseball Academy, a gaming zone and the LEGOLAND Discovery Zone.

But the real stars of the show might be the team’s new baseball leadership — Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer,  Jason McLeod and Dale Sveum — and their vision for the Cubs future. This vision has become clearer in recent weeks, as a flurry of moves have sent old-guard players like Sean Marshall, Aramis Ramirez and Carlos Zambrano out of Chicago in favor of younger talent like top first base prospect Anthony Rizzo and starters Travis Wood, Chris Volstad and Paul Maholm.

Opening Ceremonies begin Friday at 5 p.m. in the Hilton Chicago Grand Ballroom. The Saturday morning proceedings will be highlighted by  “Behind the Scenes with Theo Epstein”, followed by “Meet Cubs Baseball Management” with General Manager Jed Hoyer, Assistant General Manager Randy Bush and Manager Dale Sveum.

Other notable weekend sessions include:

  • “Coaches’ Den,” featuring new manager Dale Sveum, new bench coach Jamie Quirk, new pitching coach Chris Bosio, new first base coach Dave McKay, hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo and bullpen coach Lester Strode discussing their coaching philosophies, moderated by Bob Brenly.
  • “Ron Santo: Beyond the Game,” featuring widow Vicki Santo, son Ron Santo Jr., and friends and teammates Glenn Beckert, Randy Hundley and Billy Williams discussing the personal side of Ron Santo and his recent Hall of Fame election, moderated by Pat Hughes.
  • “Outside the Foul Lines,” featuring Tony Campana, Ryan Dempster, Geovany Soto and Randy Wells sharing their personalities and experiences beyond the game.
  • “The Ricketts’ Family Forum,” featuring Ricketts family members Tom, Laura, Pete and Todd discussing their journey as team owners and what they hope to accomplish in the coming years.

To keep up on all the happenings from the Cubs Convention, check back with the Cubs Vine Line Blog all weekend long.

Cubs add lefty Paul Maholm to rotation

Both Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have stressed that a major league team can’t have too much starting pitching–in the last few weeks, they have gone to great lengths to prove that point.

The Cubs revamped rotation got deeper on Tuesday, when the team agreed to a one-year contract with 29-year-old lefty Paul Maholm. Maholm, a ground ball pitcher who has a 53-73 record and a 4.36 ERA in 185 career appearances, has spent his entire seven-year career with the Pirates. Last season, he posted a 6-14 record with a career-best 3.66 ERA, but had the fifth worst run support in the National League. He is the second left-hander the Cubs have added to their rotation in the last few weeks, joining Travis Wood, who was acquired in the Sean Marshall trade with Cincinnati.

“We’re not finished acquiring starting pitchers,” Hoyer said last week. “We want to have as much depth as possible. At this point, we’re still very much in the process of gathering as many quality arms as we can, and we’ll put those pieces in place as we get closer to Spring Training.”

The potential Cubs rotation now includes Maholm, Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells, Chris Volstad and Wood.

Maholm broke the news Monday night on his Twitter account, saying, “Just wanna say thank u to everyone that has cheered for me during my career as a Pirate. I loved my last six plus years in the city.

“I hope to get to continue some things when I visit during the year and start some great things as I start my Cubs career.”