Last evening I did the podcast thing with Cory from the Three Rivers Burgh Blog, a Pittsburgh sports blog previewing the NL Central. Although I am almost criminally long-winded, it’s a good listen if you’ve got an hour (this edition is all about the Cubs – the first few minutes are a bit choppy, but it clears up), and it was a hell of a lot of fun to do. You can check it out at that link, or you can find it on iTunes (just search for Three Rivers Burgh Blog).

  • As noted in the Pre-Gamin’ yesterday, the Cubs have brought in 36-year-old reliever Shawn Camp on a Minor League deal. The move was paired with a release: lefty Trever Miller was dumped yesterday by the Cubs. The writing was more or less on the wall when manager Dale Sveum started talking about a bullpen with zero or one lefty. Scott Maine still has a slim chance to make the pen as the “other” lefty (James Russell). As for Camp, he’ll try to impress – he was a better than average reliever last year for the Blue Jays, and was downright great in 2010 – in the final week of Spring Training, but it would be a bit surprising if he came in an immediately claimed a spot in the pen. He was signed by the Mariners on a Major League deal, so his release was a bit of a surprise.
  • On Camp, Dale Sveum had a fair bit of praise: “He’s got one of those rubber arms that can throw all the time, and he makes the ball go sideways to both sides of the plate. He’s pitched well in the AL East, on turf. When you pitch well and you’re a sinkerballer and doing it on turf, facing the Red Sox and Yankees lineup all the time … there’s some value there, no question about it.”
  • Sveum believes the Cubs will be better on defense this year (not exactly a tall feat, given that the Cubs were among the bottom three in almost all defensive measures last year), and notes that defensive positioning will be a big part of it – kind of a shot at the previous coaching staff. Sveum is a noted spray chart enthusiastic, so I actually believe him that the positioning will be better this year.
  • Opening Day starter Ryan Dempster isn’t terribly worried about a recent outing against A-ballers, in which he gave up six runs on eight hits over five innings. “It was probably a lack of executing some pitches,” Dempster said. “They’re up there swinging, yeah, but I could have made some better pitches. I was trying to accomplish a few things, which I did and was really good, which was the most important thing about yesterday.”
  • Cubs players are enjoying their first Spring Training under Dale Sveum, whom they say runs a great camp.
  • Kerry Wood is now not expected to pitch again until Saturday, though he suggests it’s not an injury-related concern. “I just want to stay where I’m at and stay consistent with my breaking ball. I think I’ve had a good Spring working on that throwing a little more than I have normally in the Spring. And just command. Obviously you need to have a second pitch and command of your fastball when you break camp. Just being fresh for the start of the year.” He kind of seems to be dodging the issue, but he’s no spring chicken – he’s going to need time off every now and again, and the hurdle for sitting out is much, much lower in Spring Training.
  • On that subject, Wood and Paul Sullivan teamed up for some hilarity. When asked if he was surprised that his inactivity had become an issue in the media, Wood responded: “With you guys? No, not at all. It only took you guys a week to notice I wasn’t out there. You guys are right on top of it.”
  • CubFan Paul

    Spray chart enthusiast makes me giggle.

  • Jay Anderson Jr

    Wonder why the decision to start Demp over Garza was made.

    • Brian

      Future matchups

      • Eric

        Probably. It could just be out of respect to Dempster for not only being one of the more senior members of the team but all the work he put in this off season. I expect him to have a better season than last year, though still not great. Still, he is a mentor and has an attitude that helps nurture younger players.

        That all sounds a bit corny, but may have some small percentage of influence on the decision.

    • Papi

      Sveum said the opening day starter wouldn’t be as much about the Nationals series as it would be about where they following starts line up with the Brewers

      • Arnie

        Concerning the Brewers series, I was kinda shocked that Sveum declared Maholm his 5th starter. I live not too far from Milwaukee and I watch a lot of Brewers games (man, i hate that team so much, though) and Maholm has gotten lit up time after time against Milwaukee in his career. So I just assumed Maholm would start the third game against Washington and miss the Milwaukee series altogether. But whatever…we’ll see what happens.

        • Kyle

          Maholm has a career 4.45 ERA against the Brewers, vs. 4.36 overall. It was 3.75 last year.

          • Arnie

            Huh. Weird. I was looking for some stats to back me up, but didn’t find what I was looking for. Disregard my post, haha.

  • OlderStyle

    On this day in 1902, the Chicago Daily News coins the nickname “Cubs” for the baseball franchise.

  • wrigleycubsfan

    Listened to the podcast enjoyed your comments about Soriano. Also, I liked your opinions on what to expect this year. It helped prepare me mentally for a “building” season. Can’t wait for next week!

    • Brett

      Thanks for that.

  • Rees81

    Listened to the podcast which was a great. Helped the work day go by faster! I did get a couple of strange looks when I started laughing out loud at your “s*#ting the bed against soft tossing lefties” comment! Good stuff! Keep us up to date on any additional podcasts!

    • Brett

      Thanks, Rees. Glad you enjoyed – there will actually be another one coming up soon.

  • http://bleachernation loyal100more

    arnt we luckey to have a guy like brett… kinda a cross between bob euker and peter gammons. i for one salute your obsessive coverage of all things cub… and well things like “shamrock shakes” hats off to you brett! keep up the good work buddy!

    • Brett

      Mighty kind of you. Thanks, loyal.