Hello, Cubs fans. I hope you all enjoyed (or were at least entertained by) this past weekend’s Cubs Convention, either as a participant or as a distant observer like me. If you missed any of the sessions, or would like to hear them again, WGN Radio has posted audio and video clips, as well as a bunch of pictures, here.
The Cubs Convention usually doesn’t bring much surprising news – it tends to just confirm stuff we already suspected. And, sure enough, Jim Hendry is busy looking for a fourth outfielder and, apparently, another right-handed bullpen guy. This may or may not mean the Cubs are giving up on Ben Sheets. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s get to the news*:
Professor X off the bench? As mentioned, the Cubs are in hot pursuit of a fourth outfielder to play some right field and take some ABs vs. left-handed pitchers; maybe play some left field and first base to rest Soriano and Derrek Lee, respectively; and pinch hit. In my last post, we discussed the idea of Jermaine Dye filling this role. (And, reportedly, the Cubs are in preliminary talks with Dye on a one-year deal.) Now another name has appeared on the list: Xavier Nady. On paper, he may be a better choice than Dye – he’s younger and has much more experience backing up first base. The big question is how well he’s recovered from recent Tommy John surgery. (Fan favorite Reed Johnson is still in the mix, too.)
Yet another Ben Sheets update. Recent indications seem to, uh, indicate that Sheets is out of the Cubs’ price range. Plus, at the Cubs Convention, Jim Hendry revealingly grumbled about the constant worry of Rich Harden’s injury status, implying that perhaps he’s done taking flyers on oft-hurt hurlers. So Sheets is out, right? NOT SO FAST. This Canadian newspaper published a tantalizingly certain remark that the Cubs have “all but signed” Sheets. So maybe Jimbo was just being coy. Stay tuned.
Build it and they will come. Rehab it and…well, it’ll look pretty cool. Tom Ricketts and the rest of the Cubs new ownership group revealed this past weekend that a massive Wrigley Field rehab project, dubbed “Wrigley 20-14,” will begin in (you guessed it) 2014. Here’s a cool illustration of what the expanded ballpark and brand-spankin’-new Triangle Building will look like.
Nutritionist joins Cubs clubhouse staff. I found this news item, buried in a Southtown Star article, quite interesting and important. That is, the Cubs have hired a full-time nutritionist to help prepare the team’s meals. This could be key to helping the newly svelte Geovany Soto and fitter Carlos Zambrano stay in shape.
Spring training decision next week. Or so tweets Carrie Muskat.
Remember So Taguchi? Yeah, I don’t either. Just kidding. He was a footnote that appeared at the end of the disappointing 2009 season but, just in case you were wondering, it looks like So (released by the Cubs last year) will be heading back to Japan to finish out his baseball career.
The new USA Today Team Report is out! The new USA Today Team Report is out! As usual, use this to tie up most of the loose ends of what’s up with the Cubs right now.
Big Z has a charity. Hey, that rhymes. And, hey, this is news to me. Carlos Zambrano has joined Ryan Dempster and Derrek Lee in establishing a charitable organization. Carlos’s Big Z Foundation will seek to help underserved families in Chicago and developing countries. He really wants Jim Carrey to appear at his next charity event. Alllllllllllrighty then.
Speaking of Ryan Dempster’s charitable organization… Here’s the lovely Sarah Spain’s account of The Ryan & Jenny Dempster Family Foundation’s event at Hub 51 this past Sunday. (Pictures included!)
Boycott Paul Sullivan. On a parting note, I’d just like to thank the brilliant Chicago Tribune scribe Paul Sullivan for blocking me and several other Cubs fans from following his Twitter stream. As if I couldn’t lose any more respect for the guy whose bias against – and obsession with – Milton Bradley has been an embarrassment to him, his employer (which, thankfully, no longer owns the team) and Cubs fans everywhere. And who recently reminded us all that, y’know, Carlos Zambrano isn’t really from Chicago, he’s from Venezuela. (Gee, thanks, Paul.) Suffice to say, I won’t be linking any of my news items to Paul’s stories, and I urge you all to ignore him as well. It’s not like Gordon Wittenmyer doesn’t write basically the same crap anyway.
*As always, the bolded phrases leading off each paragraph are hyperlinks.