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carlos villanueva blue jaysDon’t forget, there was a new podcast for your listening pleasure yesterday – and it’s still there today! Consider it your Valentine’s Day gift.

  • Dale Sveum says Jeff Samardzija’s bullpen session yesterday went pretty well. Almost too well. Per Cubs.com: “Samardzija, you would’ve thought it was playoff time,” Sveum said. “That was about as dominant a bullpen as you’re going to see. It was pretty impressive to watch him throw those 30 pitches today.” I mean, if he’s still in tuning-it-up mode, then great, because it can only get better. If he’s going 100% already, though, I’m probably being paranoid, but … pull back the reins a bit.
  • Scott Hairston, who admitted to being a White Sox fan growing up, explains why he signed with the Cubs, again, per Cubs.com: “There was a lot of interest early on, but I don’t think there was enough interest to make anything happen. Interest is a word that can be described in many ways. The Cubs had real interest and they made things happen. I was happy to have both New York teams want me there, but when it came down to it, the Cubs wanted me the most, and that’s why I’m here.” I imagine Hairston was hoping to find a job in the range of “starting” after a solid 2012 season, which is why he took a little time to sign. I think the Cubs wound up with a very nice deal on Hairston (two years, $5 million (plus $1 million in incentives)).
  • Another new arrival, Carlos Villanueva is saying all the right things about coming to the Cubs. “Bringing in guys like Jed and Theo here, they’re not messing around,” Villanueva told Patrick Mooney. “They’re going to spend the money. They’re re-doing the clubhouse. They’re going to have a new facility here. All the signs point toward improvement, and that’s what you want. You don’t want to be on a team that’s [willing] to lose 90, 100 games every year and [be like]: ‘Oh, let’s just get the draft picks, let’s just sign people and in 10 years we’ll …. ’ Some guys don’t care, but I do. I’ve been in the league for a couple years now and I’ve been in the playoffs once and that was the most fun I’ve ever had in my career.”
  • Villanueva also enters the running for the next Carlos Pena quote-master when he was asked about his role with the Cubs. “I have a generic answer,” Villanueva said. “I feel I can contribute as a starter at a higher level. (But) in the end, I’m team property. So the fact that they brought me in and told me – ‘We see you as a guy who’s going to make a lot of starts for us’ – I have no reason not to believe it. So I’m sticking to what they said and getting myself ready for 200-plus [innings].” Give your generic answer, but acknowledge up front that it’s your generic answer? I love it.
  • The Cubs catching battle isn’t much of a battle – Welington Castillo is expected to be the starter, and Dioner Navarro the back-up – but those two, plus Steve Clevenger, all recognize that Spring Training is about proving yourself.
  • Speaking of Clevenger, he and Edwin Jackson – who sparred last year during that Nats/Cubs brawl – have buried the hatchet.
  • Whoever is running the Iowa Cubs’ web page (and Twitter) is having a whole lot of fun. Check out the poll up on their site:

  • I want to meet this person, and shake his or her hand. Also: Rhombus.
  • A couple BN’ers were recently offered season tickets, but they’d like to talk to you about that.
  • The Cubs’ Spring Training Bunt Tourney is on the verge of getting underway – pictorial evidence. The play-in tournament among front office members kicks off on Saturday, where Theo Epstein will face Jed Hoyer in the first round, and some of the media relations folks will take on some of the clubhouse staff.
  • Hansman1982

    Yes, if you want season tickets and are buried in the waiting list I have a spot I’m willing to give up. I believe Spencer is in the same boat but I can’t speak for him.

  • Marc N.

    I wonder if Villanueva will be pissed if he doesn’t win the fif. He says he’s team property but then states he was told he would start and plans to start. Probably not a big issue since I could see him winning the 5 spot.

  • gratefulled

    Haha! Rhombus is in the lead.

    • Joe

      I HAVE to cast my vote to Pancake Day. There is scrap of paper on my kitchen table right now with the words “Pancake Days” at the top and list of dates underneath. It’s a beautiful thing!

      • hansman1982

        I went with “Sugar”.

        Any word in quotes is a winner in my book.

        • Stinky Pete

          “Cyclone”?

          Blecchh. Tasted dirty just typing it….

          • hansman1982

            DANG YOU STANK-MAN

            Most words in quotes are winners. Clearly “Cardinals” is not.

  • illinicubfan

    For a short time, I lived in the same neighborhood with the Hairstons, I can literally remember being 6 years old and playing pick up baseball at the park with the Hairston brothers and their Dad, I can still remember Scott and Jerry being light years better than the other kids at that age even.

    • mak

      which neighborhood were yall from?

  • LWeb23

    I am really surprised I voted for the leading vote-getter on that Iowa Cubs poll. I won’t spoil it for anyone…

    • LWeb23

      looks like someone already did. oops haha

  • Seth

    I would really like to see Jed and Theo facing off in the bunt tourney. I hope someone gets a quality video of it and uploads the thing to YouTube.

    • DocPeterWimsey

      I then would like to see Theo get up and show a scatter plot showing the negative relationship between bunts by position players and runs scored by teams, and how the positive correlation between bunts by positions and runs scored is entirely explained by both being caused by high OBP low in the batting order!

      • Cubbie Blues

        ^like

  • Cooper

    On the Iowa Cubs page they have the team leaders for various stats – I recommend quickly clicking between AVG and HR. Comical, the difference in expression, between Vitters and Rizzo.

  • AB

    Didn’t the Hairston’s father play for the White sox?

    • Patrick W.

      His Father Jerry and his Grandfather Sam both played for the Whitesox. His brother Jerry and his Uncle John both played with the Cubs.

  • butlerdawgs

    Thoughts on getting a pool together for the Bunt Tourney?

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      I’m in, if I could get a copy of the bracket in time.

      • butlerdawgs

        You mean they don’t have a “Selection Sunday” broadcast?? Let’s get Greg Gumbel on the horn right now.

      • Spencer

        Muscat said she’ll post one as soon as she sees it. I’m in as well.

  • Seth

    Um, so who else is looking forward to seeing this all year?

    [img]http://i.imgur.com/a5hsj.gif[/img]

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      AHHHHHHHHHHH! I love it.

    • frank

      Poetry in motion, like Garza throwing to first . . .

  • DarthHater

    I have always felt that the baseball diamond should instead be called the baseball rhombus.

  • frank

    I voted for the current last-place vote-getter. Figured it would be, and I always like the underdog. So if I voted for the one in last place, guessing that it would be in place, and ended up being right–that’s a good thing–right?

  • Carne Harris

    The Mayor is pushing for this poll to be settled by the end of the week.

  • afinch

    Might be the funniest group of comments ever. Between the bunt-tourney pool talk, the Villanueva kick-swing, the rhombus chatter and the Iowa Cubs poll? Funny stuff.

    I love seeing the Blackhawks and Bulls do well, and March Madness is around the corner but the most exciting thing for me may just be all of the “who is the 4th starter” and “this guy may make the team” spring training talk. Plus it means winter is getting closer to leaving us for awhile. In the words of Borat Sagdiyev: very excite!

  • Katie

    So many reasons to love the Iowa Cubs!

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