I feel very fortunate to have made it to the Cubs Convention this year, and I’ll have a long write-up about the experience soon. It was a great trip, though I was sad to learn that, in my absence, my daughter – 11 months – had figured out how to stand herself up on our living room slider door, and lick the glass like it was a popsicle. Thank God for technology, or I would have totally missed that hilarious and gross display.
- A few news bits from yesterday morning’s prospect panel at CubsCon, for those who weren’t able to follow on Twitter: Scouting Chief Jason McLeod said that he was very surprised to see the facilities at Wrigley Field available for players to get ready for the game and to take swings before going into the game (“It’s a challenge.”). We already knew the facilities were bad – anyone who’s taken a tour at Wrigley could tell you that – but to hear one of the execs rip them so candidly tells you improvements are needed ASAP.
- McLeod, Oneri Fleita and Tim Wilken (who were a part of the panel, together with well-spoken and very likable prospects Anthony Rizzo, Matt Szczur, Jeff Beliveau, Junior Lake, Brett Jackson, and Josh Vitters) added that they will be adding improved video and advanced scouting capabilities throughout the minor league system to make it more like what will be available to the players at the Major League level (these kinds of changes may explain where some of this year’s “extra” money will be going).
- Fleita added that pitcher Dae-Eun Rhee will start the year at AA Tennessee, and pitcher Robert Whitenack, who was rocketing up the system last year before undergoing Tommy John surgery in early June, is having such a successful rehab that the Cubs expect him to break Spring camp with a club(!), probably High-A Daytona. Whitenack, 23, has largely been forgotten as a top Cubs prospect, but, if he can come back healthy, he could be near the top of many lists by the end of the 2012 season.
- Cubs players and management remain optimistic about the 2012 season, but Theo Epstein probably admits too much when he explains the source of his hope: “We have one advantage over some of the opponents we might face in that we can withstand an injury or two and still throw a very reputable starting pitcher out there every day. If our opponents can’t in the division because of injuries or attrition or poor performance, then we might surprise some people.” If everyone else gets more injured than we do, we might surprise! Obviously that’s true, but it isn’t exactly the kind of hope you’re looking for at this point. (Ok, Theo added that the Cubs have a bunch of young players with upside, which can also lead to a surprise. That’s true, and I’m with that.)
- The Cubs will be using a dynamic ticket pricing plan in the bleachers this year, which is a fancy way of saying the price will start low, and then will go up as availability goes down and demand goes up.
- Kerry Wood’s fundraiser on Friday night was a success and a lot of fun, from the sound of things. Ditto on Theo Epstein’s fundraiser in Boston Saturday night.
- The Cubs reportedly saved a little money by assigning some of their scouts who were attending the Convention two to a room in the hotel, and encouraging them to take the L, rather than cabs. Does this make the Cubs “cheap”? I’m trying to be bothered by it, but I’m not sure that I can be. I took the L, and it worked just fine for me. Though I do understand – “cheap” is not a reputation the Cubs want to get when it comes to wooing scouting talent.