Chicago Cubs Owner and Chairman Tom Ricketts will address the team – now fully assembled – in Mesa this morning. Among the subjects: the progress on the Wrigley renovation front. Hopefully that means new information today, but it’s possible it will just be things we’ve already heard (not everyone is obsessing like we are). He’s expected to meet with the media, though, so I reckon they’ll ask some good questions. (Nudge: what’s the status of talks with the rooftops? Are you still considering the possibility of a plan to block them, or is something collaborative expected to come together? Frustrated by inability to get others on board to help? Will construction start in the Fall even if, for example, the night game plan hasn’t been implemented? How many night games do you want, by the way? JumboTron – anything new on that front? I could go on …. )
- Bob Brenly says he was so close to re-upping with WGN and the Cubs on a five-year deal that he went out with his family to celebrate. The problem, though, was that WGN couldn’t guarantee him the final three years of the deal, because its contract with the Cubs expires after the 2014 season (and WGN didn’t want to be forced to pay Brenly for those final three years if they lose the Cubs, and the new network didn’t pick up Brenly (I’m thinking there’s no way the new network wouldn’t have picked up Brenly, but whateves)). So, he sought out the security of the D-backs deal. Hard to blame him. As for the implications, this isn’t really something we didn’t already expect. The real question is whether the Cubs will also be able to get out of the CSN portion of their TV deal (which runs through 2019), so they can put out the whole lot of games for bidding. I’ve got a big ‘ole TV contract post in the works, so I expect to dig into this heavily soon.
- Brenly made sure to add, and I agree, that fans are probably going to enjoy Brenly’s replacement – Jim Deshaies – quite quickly.
- Nate Halm, the assistant video coordinator and advance scout (“video dude”), won the front office play-in tournament, and he’ll be entered into the full 64-man field for the Cubs Bunt Tourney. Theo Epstein surprisingly beat Jed Hoyer in the first round, but then lost in the second round to wunderkind Scott Harris, the new (25-year-old) Director of Baseball Operations.
- When the Cubs open their Cactus League schedule next Saturday, Travis Wood will get the first start, followed by Jeff Samardzija on Sunday. Baseball in six days.
- Before that, there will be a couple intrasquad games on Thursday and Friday, with Chris Rusin, Cory Wade, Trey McNutt, Nick Struck, Robert Whitenack and Rafael Dolis scheduled to pitch Thursday, per Carrie Muskat. Brooks Raley, Drew Carpenter, Hector Rondon, Dayan Diaz, Alberto Cabrera, Michael Bowden, Blake Parker and Jensen Lewis are expected to go on Friday. It’s almost every pitcher in camp who is competing for a roster spot/bullpen spot. Some of the guys guaranteed to make the team will be throwing live batting practice as soon as today.
- Luis Valbuena says he doesn’t feel like he’s on the team yet (though Dale Sveum disagrees), and wants to prove once again that he belongs. I like that attitude. He’s also kind of competing for the third base job, though Sveum has called it Ian Stewart’s “job to win.”
- It’s getting harder and harder to believe Ryan Braun, says Scott Miller. Indeed.