Results tagged ‘ Theo Epstein ’
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!
From Jan. 13-15, Cubs fans of all ages gathered at the Hilton Chicago to warm up the winter and mingle with more than 70 Cubs players, coaches and front office personnel at the sold-out 27th annual Cubs Convention. Vine Line was there the whole weekend to document all the happenings, including Kerry Wood’s triumphant return, the Ron Santo Hall of Fame Panel and all the new Wrigley Field news. Get ready for the season and check out the sights and sounds of the 2012 Cubs Convention.
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.
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.”
To cap off a whirlwind week for the team, the Cubs acquired high-ceiling first base prospect Anthony Rizzo and right-hander Zach Cates from the Padres in exchange for righty Andrew Cashner and outfielder Kyung-Min Na.
Last month, Baseball America named Rizzo, 22, the top prospect in the Padres organization and MLB.com ranked him as the top first base prospect in all of baseball. The left-handed slugger hit .331 with 34 doubles, 26 home runs and 101 RBI in 93 games for San Diego’s Triple-A affiliate in 2011. Although he has dominated minor league pitchers throughout his career, he struggled during a brief 49-game big league call-up last year. According to General Manager Jed Hoyer, he will likely start the 2012 season at the Cubs Triple-A Iowa affiliate.
“We believe Anthony has the potential to be a middle-of-the-order run producer for the Cubs for a very long time,” Hoyer said. “He still has some development left. We feel what he’s done at age 20 at Double-A and age 21 at Triple-A was remarkable.”
Rizzo was originally selected by the Red Sox but was sent to San Diego in the Adrian Gonzalez trade.
Read the full press release below:
CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs today acquired first baseman Anthony Rizzo and right-handed pitcher Zach Cates from the San Diego Padres for right-handed pitcher Andrew Cashner and outfielder Kyung-Min Na.
Rizzo, 22, batted .331 (118-for-356) with 34 doubles, 26 home runs and 101 RBI in 93 games for San Diego’s Tucson affiliate last season, his first-career stop at Triple-A. The left-handed batter recorded a .404 on-base percentage and a .652 slugging percentage, good for a 1.056 OPS, the second-best mark in the Pacific Coast League. Despite time in the majors, Rizzo tied for fifth in the league in batting average, ranked sixth in RBI, tied for eighth in homers and ranked second in slugging. He has reached 100 RBI in his last two minor league years.
Named last month as the top prospect in San Diego’s farm system by Baseball America entering the 2012 season, Rizzo began the 2011 campaign by hitting .365 (73-for-200) with 16 home runs and 63 RBI in his first 52 Triple-A games to earn his first call-up to the big leagues, making his debut on June 9. Rizzo had a .444 on-base percentage, a .715 slugging percentage and a 1.159 OPS at the time of his promotion. He spent six weeks in the big leagues before returning to Triple-A on July 21. Rizzo was recalled to the majors September 4 and combined to bat .141 (18-for-128) with eight doubles, one triple, one homer and nine RBI in 49 big league games last year.
Rizzo was originally selected by the Red Sox in the sixth round of the 2007 Draft out of high school. He was limited to 21 minor league games in 2008 after being diagnosed with Limited Stage Classical Hodgkins Lymphoma in late April. He returned a season later to lead all Red Sox minor leaguers with a .368 on-base percentage and ranked third in the system with a .297 batting average between Single-A Greenville and Single-A Salem.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Rizzo was named the Red Sox Offensive co-Player of the Year in 2010 after leading their system with 25 home runs between Salem and Double-A Portland. He finished second in the organization with 100 RBI, and batted .260 (138-for-531) with 42 doubles, 61 walks and 92 runs scored. He was Portland’s Most Valuable Player and tied for the team lead with 20 home runs in only 107 games.
Rizzo was acquired by the Padres as part of the five-player deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox on December 6, 2010. A native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., he has batted .296 (425-for-1,436) with 119 doubles, 64 home runs and 281 RBI in 375 career minor league games covering five seasons.
Cates, 22, was selected by San Diego in the third round of the 2010 Draft and made his professional debut last season, going 4-10 with a 4.73 ERA (62 ER/118.0 IP) in 25 starts for Single-A Fort Wayne. He allowed only four home runs with 111 strikeouts in 118.0 innings pitched. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Cates is a native of Conway, AR and attended Northeast Texas Community College.
Cashner, 25, is 2-6 with a 4.29 ERA (31 ER/65.0 IP) in 60 major league outings (one start) the last two years with the Cubs. Chicago’s first round pick in the 2008 Draft, Cashner made his big league debut in 2010, making 53 relief appearances, and was limited to only seven outings (one start) in 2011 due to a right shoulder strain.
Na, 20, combined to bat .268 (72-for-269) with 10 doubles, no home runs and 22 RBI in 83 games between four different teams in the club’s minor league system last year. The Seoul, South Korea native was originally signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent on August 12, 2009.
The Chicago Cubs continued to rebuild their pitching staff with the acquisition of Miami Marlins right-hander Chris Volstad for volatile righty Carlos Zambrano. Zambrano waived his no-trade clause and will join friend and countryman Ozzie Guillen in Miami after 11 seasons and 125 wins with the North Siders.
The dependable 25-year-old Volstad has a career record of 32-39 with a 4.59 ERA in parts of four major league seasons. The former first-rounder struggled in 29 starts with the Marlins last year, but finished strong after a brief demotion to Triple-A. Volstad, who will not be a free agent until after the 2014 season, joins Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster, Randy Wells and the newly acquired Travis Wood in the Cubs 2012 rotation.
Read the full press release below:
CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs today acquired right-handed pitcher Chris Volstad from the Miami Marlins for right-handed pitcher Carlos Zambrano and a cash consideration.
Volstad, 25, is 32-39 with a 4.59 ERA (298 ER/584.0 IP) in 103 major league appearances (102 starts) with the Marlins the last four seasons (2008-11). The 6-foot-8, 230-pound righthander has made at least 29 starts for the Marlins each of the last three years, including a career-best 30 starts in 2010 when he went 12-9 with a 4.58 ERA (89 ER/175.0 IP).
Originally selected by the Marlins in the first round (16th overall) of the 2005 Draft out of high school, Volstad made his major league debut with the Marlins midway through the 2008 campaign at the age of 21, going 6-4 with a 2.88 ERA (27 ER/84.1 IP) in 15 big league outings, 14 as a starting pitcher his rookie season. He made his first major league Opening Day roster in 2009 and went 9-13 with a 5.21 ERA (92 ER/159.0 IP) in 29 starts during his first full big league season that year. Volstad followed up with his strongest full major league campaign in 2010.
Volstad went 5-13 with a 4.89 ERA (90 ER/165.2 IP) in 29 starts last year with the Marlins. He finished strong by posting a 2.41 ERA (10 ER/37.1 IP) in his final six starts, allowing two earned runs or less in each of his final six outings while tossing at least six innings in five of those starts. Volstad began the season with the big league club but was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on July 23. He was recalled to the big leagues on August 12 and, despite going winless, posted a 3.48 ERA (21 ER/54.1 IP) in nine starts upon his return to the majors.
A native of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., Volstad graduated from Palm Beach Gardens High School in 2005.
Zambrano departs the Cubs with a 125-81 record and a 3.60 ERA (731 ER/1,826.2 IP) in 319 appearances, 282 as a starter, in 11 seasons (2001-11). He went 9-7 with a 4.82 ERA (78 ER/145.2 IP) in 24 starts for the Cubs last year before being placed on the disqualified list on August 13, missing the remainder of the season.
Originally signed by the Cubs as a non-drafted free agent on July 12, 1997, Zambrano holds the franchise record with 23-career home runs as a pitcher.
The New Year signals a new era for Cubs faithful. We’ve got a new front office, some new players and a new reason to celebrate.
The first Vine Line issue of 2012 salutes the life and career of Cubs great and newly minted Hall of Famer Ron Santo. Thanks to a vote from the Veterans Committee, the iconic third baseman finally earned his rightful place alongside teammates Ernie Banks, Fergie Jenkins and Billy Williams in Cooperstown. Baseball Prospectus’ Jay Jaffe explains why the nine-time All Star and five-time Gold Glover not only deserved his enshrinement long ago, but also might be the sixth or seventh best third basemen of all time. Vine Line subscribers also get a one-of-a-kind, commemorative tear-out poster of Santo and his Hall of Fame teammates.
Although the weather might be a bit chilly for baseball, we also get back on the field in this issue with a look at the Cubs first moves of the Hot Stove season, the signing of outfielder David DeJesus and the trade for third baseman Ian Stewart. These moves say a lot about what the new Cubs brain trust values and where the team is headed in the future.
“I tend to like [well-rounded] players. The totality of their contributions can be equal to or more than the player who does one thing extremely well,” Epstein said. “If we have a club full of well-rounded players, we’re going to far exceed the expectations because the subtle contributions really add up.”
Finally, Cubs.com’s Carrie Muskat talks to right-hander Andrew Cashner about what he’s doing this offseason to prepare the help the team in 2012. After an injury plagued 2011, Cashner is feeling strong and ready to go–no matter which role the Cubs ask him to play.
You’ll find these stories and more in our January issue. If you want to be part of all the exciting Cubs action in 2012, subscribe to Vine Line today. And watch for our minor league prospectus issue in February, profiling the top talent rising through the Cubs farm system.
The Cubs continued to fill out their 2012 coaching staff over the weekend, as Chris Bosio accepted new manager Dale Sveum’s offer to become the Cubs’ next pitching coach. Prior to joining the Cubs, Bosio worked with Sveum in the Brewers organization, where he served as pitching coach for the team’s Triple-A affiliate in Nashville. Bosio, who pitched in the major leagues for 11 seasons with Milwaukee and Seattle, joins hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, new bench coach Jamie Quirk and bullpen coach Lester Strode on the Cubs’ retooled coaching staff.
Last week, Cubs President Theo Epstein said he plans to announce most of the new coaching staff this week at the winter meetings in Dallas.
Last Friday, the Cubs interviewed former big league catcher Sandy Alomar Jr. for the managerial job, concluding meetings with four candidates that team brass suggested may encompass the set they talk to. If you missed the video over the weekend on Cubs.com, click the image above for another Vine Line look inside the manager search, and subscribe for your insider’s pass to the new era at Wrigley Field.
The field: Sandy Alomar Jr., Pete Mackanin, Dale Sveum and Mike Maddux.