The Cubs Convention is January 18 to 20, and I will be there, which is slightly less notable than the confirmed list of Cubs players who will be in attendance: Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro, David DeJesus, Matt Garza, Carlos Marmol, Anthony Rizzo, Jeff Samardzija, and Alfonso Soriano, together with new additions Scott Baker, Scott Feldman, and Dioner Navarro. The coaching staff and front office will also be there, as well as Cubs Hall of Famers and other former Cubs. If you’ve never been, it’s something you should try and check off the list at some point. Plus, you can hang out with me! Put it on your calendar now: Friday, January 18, in the evening – we’ll be getting together somewhere at the Sheraton. I reckon there’s a bar or two there, and that’s where we’ll be. More details as the date approaches.
(On that confirmed list of attendees: don’t go nuts reading anything into it. No, it doesn’t mean that none of those players will be traded and it doesn’t mean that anything is happening with any missing names. It just means that, at a minimum, barring any trades/injuries/visa issues/etc., you can expect those guys to be there. Others will come, too, and if there are any new additions between now and then, they’ll be there, too.)
- Matt Garza says he threw the baseball for the first time yesterday during his rehab process (recall, he’s back on “normal offseason activity” after a mid-2012 stress reaction in his elbow sidelined him), and he “felt great.” He’s looking forward to the next day, as are we. Healthy, effective Garza = good for Cubs, however things shake out.
- (Relatedly, I think I’ve won Matt over. In a Twitter string that developed after his tweet about feeling good, he hooked me up with some kind words:
- I win the Twitters. The feeling is mutual, Matt (though I probably would have used some variation of cat and pajamas).)
- Ian Stewart tweeted that he’s been working with Hall of Famer Rod Carew on his swing, which is awesome. Carew was briefly a hitting coach after his playing career, and you regularly hear about players working one-on-one in the offseason with a hitting coach (former Cubs hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo used to do it) just before they have a bounce-back/break-out season. That’s totally anecdotal, and doesn’t prove anything. But I guess I’m just glad to hear Stewart is working hard, because a mere reversion to his 2008 to 2010 numbers would make him, when considering defense, a better than average third baseman. How pleasantly-surprisingly awesome would that be?
- (How about another parenthetical Bullet: wow, Rod Carew was awesome. It’s something you know, but it’s fun to be reminded. He hit below .300 exactly four times in his 19-year career: his first two seasons (ages 21 and 22), and his last two seasons (38 and 39). From his age 27 season on, he never struck out more than he walked in a season. Not once.)
- Mooney’s latest on the Rays/Royals trade, the Cubs/Rays/Garza trade, and the balance between acquiring big league talent and hoarding prospects, is a good read. But it is seasoned with a hint of anti-rebuildism, which seems odd for a non-columnist who has generally seemed on board with everything that’s been happening in the last year and a half. One bit in that vein about which he’s quite right, though: “In constantly searching for value, actual major-league experience and success has been severely discounted.” That is absolutely true, with respect to some fans and prospect hounds.
- Speaking of rebuilding, we’re seeing lots of estimates of the Cubs’ Opening Day payroll – all of which fall into the $80 to $90 million range – based on the players currently under contract and projected 25-man roster. I suppose it’s interesting, but I’m not sure how useful it is – the Cubs have a stated desire to pick up another starting pitcher, another reliever, and another outfielder. Couple that with the unseen trade factor (will Alfonso Soriano break camp with the Cubs? Carlos Marmol? What about guys the Cubs pick up in trade?), and I guess it just feels awfully premature to be putting a total on it. Perhaps if your goal is to nudge the Cubs to spend further, I guess.
- Dave Sappelt and Luis Valbuena continue to tear it up in Venezuela.