The Caleb Hanie Experience starts today. Feel the rush.
- Carlos Zambrano, who is currently pitching in the Venezuelan Winter Leagues in the hopes that he can get his arm in shape for 2012 (and show the Cubs/other teams he’s capable of pitching well again), was supposed to start yesterday, in his first appearance after taking a liner off the face last week. Instead, Zambrano sat, and is expected to keep sitting for a few more days still. His facial injury required at least 10 stitches, so a little extra rest is understandable. The league runs through December, so there is still plenty of time for him to get a few more starts, even if he sat out a couple weeks.
- New York Yankees manager, and former Cub, Joe Girardi approves of the Cubs’ managerial hire, Dale Sveum. “I had a chance to know Dale a little bit, not a lot,” Girardi said. “And obviously, he’s had a number of jobs, whether it’s been a third-base coach in Boston or hitting coach in Milwaukee, and he’s been around the game a long time and he’s a guy that has prepared himself for this opportunity and I’m happy for him …. I think he understands the Cubs’ culture as much as he can as being a visiting player, or visiting coach, because he’s been part of it in a sense that Milwaukee plays the Cubs 15 times a year, so he has a chance to see it. There’s things that I had to learn as a manager that you go through, but it’s a pretty quick learning curve and you get thrown into it really quickly and you do the best that you can.”
- Girardi also had kind words for the Cubs’ new front office, particularly Theo Epstein. “He’s put together good clubs,” Girardi said of Epstein. “That’s what he’s done in Boston – a perennial power. And I’m sure that’s what he’s going to try and do here. And they’ve done it through a number of different avenues, whether it’s guys that have come through the system or free agents they’ve went out and signed or people that they’ve traded for, and that’s any general manager’s hope is to become a perennial power.”
- Small market and rebuilding teams are trying to soldier on in the face of the new CBA’s burdensome changes, not revealing their discontent. Privately, however, they’re pissed. And that includes the Cubs, who are going to have to rethink their rebuilding strategy. Some things will remain the same – heavily invest in scouting, focus on players in their prime, etc. But the draft and international prospecting side of things will have to be tweaked. At least the Cubs have some smart guys in place to do the tweaking. As I’ve said, I tend to think these changes will force the Cubs to put some more dollars to work in free agency.
- A nice bio/column on new Padres’ GM Josh Byrnes, which touches on his time with the Red Sox, and relationship with the current Cubs’ brass. No real surprises – they’re all super smart, super hard working, and super successful. And Byrnes keeps MLBTradeRumors open on his desktop.
- Cubs’ infield prospect Marwin Gonzalez has stopped playing in the Venezuelan Winter League in order to return to the States and train at the Cubs’ facility in Mesa. Gonzalez, 22, is solid defensively in the middle infield, but can play all over. He’s a candidate to get a shot to make the Cubs out of Spring Training, depending on how the rest of the roster looks, and it’s possible the new Cubs wanted to get him working on specific things as soon as possible, rather than playing Winter Ball. The 2011 season was Gonzalez’s first average to decent offensive season, for what it’s worth.
- Another Cubs’ infield prospect, Junior Lake, fresh off of a great performance in the Arizona Fall League, is playing Winter Ball in his native Dominican Republic. It’ll make for a long season for Lake, but the Cubs may be trying to get as long a look at him as they can before 2012. Lake, 21, still isn’t expected to be ready for the bigs until 2013 or later. So far, Lake has three hits, a homer, a walk, and three steals in two DWL games.