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(Photo by Stephen Green)
Weekend passes for the 30th Annual Cubs Convention and hotel packages at the event’s location, the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, are now sold out.
For those who have not booked their rooms, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s too late. A limited number of room packages with weekend passes remain available at the W Chicago Lakeshore Hotel. Cubs Convention room rates include passes at a discounted price of $20 each. For more information or to book one of the last remaining room packages, visit cubs.com/convention.
The 2015 Cubs Convention will feature more than 80 guests, including members of the current Cubs roster and coaching staff, alumni, minor leaguers, broadcasters and team executives who will interact with fans from Jan. 16-18. Guests attending the three-day weekend event will enjoy an updated event layout, more than 100 photo and autograph opportunities, enhanced activities and traditional favorites.
Valet and self parking are available at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers, but garage space is limited. The use of public transportation is highly encouraged.
Attendees can visit the Cubs Convention page for the most up-to-date list of confirmed players, coaches, alumni and weekend events.
The list of confirmed guests includes:
Major League Players:
Arismendy Alcantara, INF/OF
Jake Arrieta, RHP
Javier Baez, INF
Dallas Beeler, RHP
Welington Castillo, C
Starlin Castro, INF
Chris Coghlan, OF
Justin Grimm, RHP
Jason Hammel, RHP
Kyle Hendricks, RHP
Edwin Jackson, RHP
Eric Jokisch, LHP
Tommy La Stella, INF
Jon Lester, LHP
Rafael Lopez, C
Miguel Montero, C
Jason Motte, RHP
Mike Olt, INF
Blake Parker, RHP
Neil Ramirez, RHP
Anthony Rizzo, INF
Hector Rondon, RHP
Zac Rosscup, LHP
Brian Schlitter, RHP
Jorge Soler, OF
Dan Straily, RHP
Pedro Strop, RHP
Ryan Sweeney, OF
Matt Szczur, OF
Jacob Turner, RHP
Luis Valbuena, INF
Tsuyoshi Wada, LHP
Travis Wood, LHP
Minor League Players:
Albert Almora, OF
Kris Bryant, INF
C.J. Edwards, RHP
Pierce Johnson, RHP
Addison Russell, INF
Kyle Schwarber, C/OF
George Altman, INF/OF
Glenn Beckert, INF
Ryan Dempster, RHP
Bob Dernier, OF
Mark DeRosa, INF/OF
Leon Durham, INF/OF
Bob Howry, RHP
Randy Hundley, C
Fergie Jenkins, RHP
Jay Johnstone, OF
Jacque Jones, OF
Les Lancaster, RHP
Jon Lieber, RHP
Ted Lilly, LHP
Bill Madlock, INF
Gary Matthews, OF
Dave Otto, LHP, Broadcaster
Milt Pappas, RHP
Glendon Rusch, LHP
Lee Smith, RHP
Tim Stoddard, RHP
Rick Sutcliffe, RHP
Steve Trout, LHP
Billy Williams, OF
Kerry Wood, RHP
Joe Maddon, Manager
Henry Blanco, Quality Assurance Coach
Mike Borzello, Catching Coach
Chris Bosio, Pitching Coach
Eric Hinske, Asst. Hitting Coach
Brandon Hyde, First Base Coach
Gary Jones, Third Base Coach
John Mallee, Hitting Coach
Dave Martinez, Bench Coach
Lester Strode, Bullpen Coach
Tom Ricketts, Chairman
Laura Ricketts, Board Member
Todd Ricketts, Board Member
Theo Epstein, President, Baseball Operations
Crane Kenney, President, Business Operations
Jed Hoyer, EVP/GM
Jason McLeod, SVP, Scouting & Player Development
Randy Bush, Assistant GM
Shiraz Rehman, Assistant GM
Pat Hughes, Radio Broadcaster
Ron Coomer, Radio Broadcaster, INF (2001)
Len Kasper, TV Broadcaster
Jim Deshaies, TV Broadcaster
Clark, Team Mascot
Junior Lake reached base twice in Dominican postseason play, and Frank Batista pitched a scoreless inning of relief Wednesday. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action around the Caribbean:
- LF-CF Junior Lake went 1-for-4 with a walk as his Estrellas de Oriente club dipped below .500 with a loss to the Aguilas Cibaenas.
- RHP Frank Batista pitched a scoreless inning of relief for Cibaenas. He walked a batter and gave up a hit in the effort. The Aguilas improve to 4-5 and sit three games back in the round robin postseason format.
- LHP Joseph Ortiz recorded an out and was awarded a hold as the Tiburones de La Guaira held off the Aguilas del Zulia 2-1. It marks La Guaira’s first win of a young postseason.
- 2B Javier Baez went 0-for-4 for the Cangrejeros de Santurce in a 1-0 loss to the Gigantes de Carolina. It marks Santurce’s first loss of the postseason, dropping their playoff record to 4-1.
The opportunity to check out Joe Maddon, Jon Lester and the 2015 Cubs for the first time is nearing. On Thursday, the Cubs announced details for purchasing single-game tickets for Cubs Spring Training games at the newly named Sloan Park.
Starting Jan. 10 at 10 a.m. MST/11 a.m. CST, single-game tickets go on sale at the Sloan Park Ticket Office, by phone at 1-800-THE-CUBS and online at cubs.com.
“Following a successful first year in our new Spring Training home and a busy offseason, we’re very excited to host our second season of Spring Training games at Sloan Park,” said Spring Training Business Operations General Manager Justin Piper. “Cubs fans showed their overwhelming support of the team by setting a Cactus League season attendance record last year. With similar crowds expected this season, we encourage fans to purchase their tickets early once again.”
The Cubs open their 2015 Spring Training home schedule by hosting a split-squad game against the Athletics on March 5, at 1:05 p.m. MST. The complete 2015 Spring Training schedule is available at sloanpark.com.
Details for purchasing single game tickets are as follows:
Purchasing Tickets In-person
Tickets may be purchased at Sloan Park, located at 2330 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Mesa, Ariz. The ticket office opens Jan. 10 at 10 a.m. MST. Standard hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. MST, Monday through Saturday, as well as during Sunday home games.
Purchasing Tickets by Phone and Online
Tickets may be purchased over the phone by calling 1-800-THE-CUBS (800-843-2827) or online by visiting cubs.com beginning Jan. 10 at 10 a.m. MST/11 a.m. CST.
Fans can direct ticket and additional Spring Training questions to email@example.com. For continuously updated information and to take a virtual tour of Sloan Park, please visit sloanpark.com.
Cubs announce legacy partnership with Sloan Valve Co.; Spring Training facility in Mesa now called Sloan Park
The Chicago Cubs and Sloan Valve Company today announced Sloan will become the naming rights partner of Sloan Park—formerly Cubs Park—the team’s Spring Training facility in Mesa, Arizona. Sloan, a global brand based in the Chicago area, joins the team as a Legacy Partner and the official water efficiency partner of the Chicago Cubs.
Sloan has been a leading global manufacturer of water-efficient solutions for 109 years. As a fourth-generation family business, Sloan prides itself on promoting a healthy environment through water conservation and understands what it means to build a legacy. The Cubs will utilize Sloan’s products in the newly-named Sloan Park in Mesa and target integration inside Wrigley Field and its surrounding facilities as part of the 1060 Project construction—helping the organization expand its ongoing sustainability efforts.
In addition to the Spring Training facility naming rights, Sloan will have a branding presence at Wrigley Field, including fixed signage in the visiting team’s bullpen.
“Teaming up with Sloan—another family-owned company based in Chicago with more than a century of history—is an important move for the Cubs as we look to provide clean and sustainable water solutions for our facilities in both Mesa and Chicago,” said Cubs Chairman Tom Ricketts.
Sloan becomes the sixth Legacy Partner of the Chicago Cubs, joining Anheuser-Busch, ATI Physical Therapy, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, Under Armour and Wintrust.
“Sloan is passionate about providing intelligent water solutions to the communities we serve,” said Sloan President Jim Allen. “We are excited to have a major presence both in Chicago and Mesa to authentically convey the message of water sustainability.”
Christian Villanueva ripped another home run, and Javier Baez drove in a run in Caribbean postseason play Tuesday. Here are some notes from yesterday’s Winter League action:
- 3B Christian Villanueva hit his second homer of the postseason despite the Yaquis de Obregon falling to the Aguilas de Mexicali. He finished 1-for-3 with a walk. The Yaquis still lead the best-of-seven series 3-2.
- 2B Javier Baez recorded a single and drove in a run as the Congrejeros de Santurce picked up another win in round robin postseason play. He went 1-for-5 as Santurce remained perfect in the playoffs at 4-0.
- LHP Joseph Ortiz pitched 0.2 scoreless innings of relief in the Tiburones de La Guaira’s loss to the Aguilas del Zulia. Ortiz surrendered one hit. La Guaira fell to 0-3 in the postseason.
(Photo by Stephen Green)
It could be argued that a trade made three years ago today was the first move toward making the Cubs the dark-horse division contender many view them as heading into the 2015 season.
In an effort to reclaim a first basemen they originally selected in the 2007 draft while with Boston, the recently hired President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein and General Manager Jed Hoyer acquired first baseman Anthony Rizzo and right-hander Zach Cates from San Diego in exchange for right-hander Andrew Cashner and outfielder Kyung-Min Na.
Initially, it looked like the Cubs may have surrendered the better portion of the deal in Cashner, a power arm with ace potential who, despite dealing with arm issues in 2011 that caused him to miss most of the season, showed promise in his 2010 rookie campaign. The bulk of the Cubs’ return rested in a 21-year-old power hitter who hit a mere .141/.281/.527 (AVG/OBP/SLG) with one homer in 49 games in his major league debut season in San Diego after enjoying a successful minor league campaign.
Rizzo rebounded in 2012, hitting .285/.342/.463 with 15 homers in 87 major league games. Meanwhile Cashner pitched in just 46.1 innings, as a strained lat kept him out for a large portion of the year.
By many accounts, the Cubs’ first basemen regressed in his first full season in the majors in 2013. His average plummeted to .233, and he hit only eight more home runs than he hit the previous season in 73 more games. That didn’t deter the Cubs from giving him a team-friendly, seven-year, $41 million extension in May of that year.
Cashner on the other hand, enjoyed his finest season, pitching 175.0 innings in 26 starts for San Diego. He struck out 128 batters and finished with a 1.13 WHIP and a 10-9 record.
The debate over who got the better end of the deal shifted back in the Cubs’ favor during the 2014 season. Rizzo made his first All-Star team and hit a career-best .286/.386/.527 with 32 home runs, which ranked second-best in the NL. His .913 OPS ranked third in the league.
Cashner also enjoyed a successful season—when he wasn’t on the DL. Shoulder issues limited the 28-year-old to just 19 starts, but he did post a 2.55 ERA, a 1.127 WHIP and 93 strikeouts over 123.1 innings.
When discussing two players who haven’t even exited their respective team-controlled years, it’s difficult to determine which organization “won” the trade. But based on Rizzo’s efforts in 2014, it’s safe to say that’s the kind of production the Cubs expected when they pulled the trigger on the move.
With so many variables, debating whether one player is better than another is a difficult proposition. And there few numbers that properly correlate when arguing hitter versus pitcher. However, based solely on the statistic WAR (wins against replacement), it looks as if the Cubs have enjoyed more productivity out of their return in each of the past three seasons.
According to Baseball-Reference, Rizzo recorded a bWAR of 5.1 in 2014, 2.8 in 2013 and 2.2 in 2012, while Cashner’s bWAR totals were 1.9, 2.4 and -0.1 in those same seasons. While the lofty total Rizzo accumulated last year should come as no surprise, the most interesting comparison might be in 2013.
To date, this is the cleanest single-season sample size we have of Cashner. After recovering from an early-season thumb issue, the oft-injured right-hander was never on the disabled list, pitching a career-high 175.0 innings and finishing with a 3.09 ERA (11th in the NL) and a 1.13 WHIP (12th). In a mid-September game against Pittsburgh, Cashner faced the minimum in a complete-game one-hitter. The only thing that slowed the then 27-year-old was an organization-sanctioned pitch limit.
Opposite those statistics were Rizzo’s numbers: .233/.323/.419 with 23 homers and 40 doubles. Though not bad, it left some to question whether his strong 2012 was just a flash in the pan or if the first baseman reaped the benefits of opposing teams not having seen him. Despite all the concerns, according to WAR, Rizzo was still a more valuable player than Cashner, a player enjoying the finest season of his young career.
Even though WAR embodies a variety of stats, it’s only one measurement to determine a player’s worth. On that same note, it is a stat that embodies a variety of stats and one of the quickest ways to quantify a player’s value. Only time will tell as to which of the super-talented players finishes with a better career, but three years after the transaction, early signs point toward the Cubs’ slugger. As the Cubs continue to be a trendy postseason pick, look no further than the move made three years ago today as that belief’s ignition.
With postseason play continuing, Jonathan Herrera boosted his club to a win in Caribbean play Monday. Here are some notes from yesterday’s winter league action:
- 3B Jonathan Herrera had a pair of hits and drew a walk in the Navegantes del Magallanes’ win over the Tiburones de La Guaira. He scored two runs in his team’s third postseason matchup in a round robin format. Magallanes is tied for first place with a 2-1 record.
- CF-LF Junior Lake went 0-for-4 with a walk and a run driven in as his Estrellas de Oriente side fell to the Gigantes del Cibao. Despite finishing the regular season with the best record, the Estrellas find themselves three games back in the round robin portion of the postseason with 10 games remaining.
- 3B Christian Villanueva went 0-for-4, but the Yaquis de Obregon edged out the Aguilas de Mexicali to take a 3-1 series lead (best of seven) in the first round of postseason play.
Jorge Soler is one of the Cubs top prospects by any measure. (Photo by Stephen Green)
When it comes to prospect rankings, there are several offensive weapons in the Cubs system that find themselves atop almost every list. Baseball America unveiled its 2015 Cubs Top 10 Prospects Monday, and sure enough, the familiar bats make up the top half.
Here are Baseball America‘s best Cubs prospects and some of the more interesting comments:
1. Kris Bryant, 3B
The Cubs have a surplus of athletic infielders who can hit, and it’s conceivable either big league shortstops Baez and Starlin Castro or Double-A shortstop Addison Russell could wind up at third base, with Bryant shifting to the outfield. Bryant also could stay at third, where Luis Valbuena is keeping the hot corner warm in Chicago. Barring a poor start back Triple-A Iowa, Bryant should arrive on the North Side as soon as the Cubs deem it financially feasible. Bryant has the talent, confidence and makeup to be one of the game’s biggest stars. All he’s waiting for is the playing time.
2. Addison Russell, SS
Russell combines above-average athleticism with extremely quick hands and impressive strength to produce both plus hitting ability and power. He’s nearly impossible to beat with a fastball when he’s looking for it and stays back on offspeed stuff, trusting his fast hands and making plenty of high-impact contact. Defensively, Russell has the range and improved footwork to stay at shortstop.
3. Jorge Soler, OF
Kris Bryant hits more homers, but Soler’s create more buzz. His vicious bat speed, top-of-the-scale raw power and impressive feel for hitting make him a terror to pitchers. When locked in, he generates scorching line drives to all fields; some just don’t stop going until they’re over the fence. He’s coachable, takes quality at-bats and isn’t fazed by hitting with two strikes.
4. Kyle Schwarber, C/OF
Schwarber has thick, strong legs and swings from the ground up, incorporating his powerful lower half to deliver plus power with a short, furious stroke. He keeps his hands back and has the strength to hit the ball out to any part of the park. He has a .300-hitting, 30-homer ceiling. A college catcher, Schwarber has leadership skills and solid-average arm strength, but his receiving was rudimentary as an amateur, frequently dropping to one knee to handle breaking balls. He has the tools to be a capable left fielder, having shown instincts for the position.
5. C.J. Edwards, RHP
At his best, Edwards delivers three above-average to plus pitches, with excellent body control leading to an easy, rhythmic delivery and strike-throwing ability. He’s very tough for hitters to square up due to late cutting action on his fastball, which generally sat 90-93 mph in August and in his Arizona Fall League stint. The late life on the pitch has allowed him to allow just two home runs in 237 career pro innings.
6. Billy McKinney, OF
The Cubs were stunned they were able to pry both Addison Russell and McKinney, the Athletics’ top two prospects, away in the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade. Signed in 2013 for $1.8 million, McKinney jumped to high Class A for his first full season and hit better in the high Class A Florida State League after the trade than in the offense-first California League.
7. Albert Almora, OF
Almora has first-round tools, starting with a line-drive bat with present strength, fine hand-eye coordination, bat speed to catch up to good fastballs and average raw power. He was pitched backwards much of the season and struggled to adjust. He still employs a big leg kick and can get streaky, as evidenced by a .377/.395/.649 finishing kick with high Class A Daytona before his promotion. A bit more patience would go a long way to making him a big league regular considering Almora’s defense, which remains advanced.
8. Gleyber Torres, SS
A $1.7 million signee, Torres finished his U.S. pro debut by earning a promotion to short-season Boise before his 18th birthday. His maturity showed as he maintained his focus despite turmoil in his native Venezuela that prompted his family to come to the U.S.
9. Pierce Johnson, RHP
If Johnson puts it all together, he profiles as a No. 2 or No. 3 starter with two plus pitches and potentially above-average control. Chicago’s 2014 ace, Jake Arrieta, had a similar (albeit more durable) career path, and Johnson’s stuff is worth the wait. He could pitch his way to Triple-A Iowa with a strong, healthy spring training.
10. Duane Underwood, RHP
No one took as big of a step forward for the organization in 2014 as Underwood, who has the system’s most electric stuff. If he combines better control with more consistent displays of the best of his repertoire, he could move quickly. He’ll start 2015 with Chicago’s new high Class A Myrtle Beach affiliate.
Christian Villanueva blasted a big postseason home run, and Frank Batista pitched well in relief Sunday. Here are some notes from yesterday’s action around the Caribbean:
- RHP Frank Batista pitched two scoreless innings of relief in the Aguilas Cibaenas’ loss to the Gigantes del Cibao. Batista did not allow an opponent to reach base and struck out three.
- RHP Starling Peralta struggled in relief, giving up two earned runs over 1.1 innings as the Estrellas de Oriente fell to the Toros del Este. He gave up one hit and one walk in the effort.
- LF Junior Lake went 0-for-3 with a walk for the Estrellas.
- 3B Christian Villanueva hit the eventual game-winning home run for the Yaquis de Obregon in their win over Aguilas de Mexicali. Trailing by a run with two on in the eighth inning, Villanueva launched his first homer of the postseason. He was 1-for-4 on the day.
- 2B Javier Baez went 1-for-4 with a run-scoring single in the Cangrejeros de Santurce’s win over Criollos de Caguas.
- 3B Jonathan Herrera went 1-for-3 with a double as the Navegantes del Magallanes edged out the Caribes de Anzoategui 1-0.
The start of a new year means spring baseball is just around the corner. On Monday, the Cubs released report dates and game times for their entire Spring Training slate.
Pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report on Thursday, Feb. 19 with their first workout taking place on Friday, Feb. 20. Position players are scheduled to report on Tuesday, Feb. 24 with the first full-squad workout on Wednesday, Feb. 25.
The Cubs have also added four games to the schedule since its original release. The club will play a pair of games in Las Vegas against the Oakland Athletics on Friday, March 13 and Saturday, March 14. They will conclude Spring Training with two games against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on Friday, April 3 and Saturday, April 4.
All the Cubs’ Spring Training games will start at 1:05 p.m. Arizona time unless otherwise noted. Below is the Cubs’ schedule:
DATE – OPPONENT, LOCATION (TIME)
3/5 – Athletics (ss), Cubs Park
3/5 – Giants (ss), Scottsdale
3/6 – Reds, Cubs Park
3/7 – Rockies, Scottsdale (1:10)
3/8 – Rangers, Cubs Park
3/9 – Padres, Cubs Park
3/10 – Indians, Goodyear
3/11 – Dodgers, Cubs Park
3/12 – Angels, Tempe (1:10)
3/13 – Indians (ss), Cubs Park
3/13 – Athletics (ss), Las Vegas (5:05 PT)
3/14 – Brewers (ss), Maryvale
3/14 – Athletics (ss), Las Vegas (12:05 PT)
3/15 – Reds, Cubs Park
3/16 – Padres, Peoria
3/17 – Royals, Cubs Park
3/18 – Dodgers, Glendale
3/19 – Diamondbacks, Scottsdale (6:40)
3/20 – White Sox, Glendale
3/21 – Mariners, Cubs Park
3/22 – Padres, Cubs Park
3/24 – Athletics, Mesa
3/25 – Mariners, Peoria (7:05)
3/26 – Angels, Cubs Park (4:05)
3/27 – White Sox, Cubs Park
3/28 – Rockies (ss), Cubs Park
3/28 – Reds (ss), Goodyear
3/29 – Royals, Surprise
3/30 – Giants, Cubs Park
3/31 – Rangers, Surprise
4/1 – Brewers, Cubs Park
4/3 – Diamondbacks, Chase Field (6:40)
4/4 – Diamondbacks, Chase Field (1:10)