November 2009

11/30 The ring's the thing but …

Finishing in second did pay off for the Cubs. Major League Baseball announced Monday the Cubs’ share of the players’ postseason pool totaled $590,731.16, with each full share valued at $8,261.97. The Cubs, who finished second in the NL Central, awarded 58 full shares and 13.5 partial shares.

The St. Louis Cardinals, who won the Central, had a players’ pool of $1,772,193.48 to draw from, and the value of each full share was $29,446.60.

The World Champion New York Yankees’ share of the players pool was $21,266,321.79, and the value of each share was a record $365,052.73.

The players’ pool is formed from 60 percent of the gate receipts from the first three games of the Division Series and 60 percent of the gate receipts from the first four games of the League Championship series and the World Series. The total was divided among 12 clubs: The World Series participants, the LCS and DS runners up, and the four regular season second-place clubs that were not Wild Card participants.

The Angels, the ALCS runners-up, awarded a full share to the estate of pitcher Nick Adenhart.

— Carrie Muskat

11/30 Winter ball update

Jake Fox went 3-for-5 Sunday for Licey with a double and two RBIs, and now is batting .350 with seven RBIs in five games in the Dominican Republic. In the Mexican League, Matt Camp went 4-for-5 on Saturday but was hitless in six at-bats Sunday for Mexicali. He’s still batting .349 with 23 RBIs in 43 games.

Also in Mexico, outfielder Jim Adduci, added to the 40-man roster on Nov. 20, was batting .250 in nine games for Hermosillo. He has two homers and six RBIs.

Jeff Stevens also is pitching in Mexico for Mexicali, and has appeared in five games so far. On Sunday, he took the loss against Mazatlan. Stevens struck out four over two innings but also walked one and served up a two-run homer.

And, in Venezuela, Blake Lalli went 2-for-4 with a RBI on Sunday for Caribes. He’s batting .353 in five games with one homer and three RBIs.

— Carrie Muskat


11/29 Looking ahead …

The Cubs were not expected to offer arbitration to Kevin Gregg, Rich Harden, Reed Johnson and Chad Fox by Tuesday’s deadline.

A brief explanation (and I’ll try to keep it simple): Teams that offer their free agents salary arbitration get Draft picks in return if the player signs elsewhere, and the number of picks is based on the player’s rating. To get compensation, a team must offer arbitration to its Type A or B free agent and have that player either reject arbitration or sign before the deadline to reject the said arbitration.

The Elias Sports Bureau determines the designations based on statistical study. Gregg is a Type A free agent, Harden is Type B. Johnson and Fox are non-compensatory. So, if the Cubs did offer arbitration to Gregg and another team signed him, the Cubs could get two Draft picks. One would be a first-round pick from the signing team (if the team’s pick is below the first 15 picks in the Draft) and a supplemental pick. The supplemental pick is a player taken between the first and second rounds.

If the signing team has a pick in the first 15 slots, the team that loses the free agent will get the signing team’s second-round selection and the sandwich pick.A Type B free agent like Harden would be worth one Draft pick to the Cubs if he signs with another team. That pick is a supplemental pick.

Teams that do not offer salary arbitration to free agents who sign elsewhere get nothing in return.

Last year, the Cubs declined to offer arbitration to Kerry Wood, who then signed with the Cleveland Indians.

The upside for a team that does offer arbitration is the additional Draft pick or two. But if the Cubs did offer arbitration to Gregg or Harden, they also would be on the hook for at least a one-year contract at market value, which would likely be an increase from what the player earned the previous season if an offer is accepted. Gregg earned $4.2 million this year, Harden $7 million.

Gregg lost the closer’s job in mid August to Carlos Marmol and the Cubs feel they have enough starting pitching to make up for Harden’s expected exit. GM Jim Hendry has other positions to fill (center field, for example) and a budget.

If the players were offered arbitration, they would have until 10:59 p.m. CT on Dec. 7 to accept and can still negotiate with their former teams, even if they decline the offer. If the player accepts arbitration, the two sides can negotiate a deal but will go before an arbitrator if no agreement is reached.

We’ll get official word on Tuesday.

— Carrie Muskat

11/29 Winter ball update

Jake Fox hit his first home run this winter on Saturday, a solo shot, for Licey in a 6-5 win over the Toros del Este in the Dominican Republic. In four games, Fox is 5-for-15 with one double and five RBIs.

In Venezuela, Andres Blanco was batting .296 in 34 games with Magallanes, primarily playing second base. He’s also played shortstop and third. Catcher Robinson Chirinos was hitting .337 with six homers, five doubles and 21 RBIs for Magallanes.

In Mexico, outfielder Brad Snyder was batting .363 in 39 games with seven homers, 10 doubles and 35 RBIs. He went 2-for-2 on Saturday with one RBI. Teammate Matt Camp was batting .361 in 42 games with one homer, 15 doubles and 23 RBIs. Camp has played shortstop and center field for the Mexican League team.

— Carrie Muskat

11/27 Winter ball update

Jake Fox didn’t waste any time. Fox traveled to the Dominican Republic on Monday to play for Licey, and in two games so far, he’s 3-for-7 with a double and one RBI. Fox is playing left field and first base for the Tigres.

— Carrie Muskat

11/27 Spring Training

Some members of the Ricketts family will travel to Naples, Fla., this coming week to review possible Spring Training sites in Collier County. Meanwhile, Mesa Mayor Scott Smith told the East Valley (Ariz.) Tribune that the city should know within a few weeks whether the Cubs will keep their Spring Training facility in Arizona. The Ricketts family, who took over ownership of the Cubs in late October, toured Mesa the first week of November during the Cubs’ organizational meetings and looked at possible sites.

According to the East Valley Tribune, Smith said the Ricketts family seemed pleased with several sites along the Loop 202 freeway in east Mesa. A new facility would likely cost $80 million and the project would be funded with yet to be determined mix of private and government monies.

— Carrie Muskat

11/24 D-Lee finishes 9th in NL MVP

Derrek Lee had an MVP season with the Cubs, but it wasn’t enough to bump St. Louis slugger Albert Pujols from top honors in the National League.

Lee finished ninth in the balloting by the Baseball Writers Association of America with 66 total points, while Pujols was a unanimous selection for his third MVP award. Florida’s Hanley Ramirez was second, followed by Philadelphia’s Ryan Howard and Milwaukee’s Prince Fielder.

Lee, who did receive one second-place vote among the 16 cast with his name on them, did set a career high with 111 RBIs in 141 games this season and led the team with a .306 batting average. The first baseman hit 35 home runs, his highest total since belting 46 in 2005. In 2005, Lee finished third in the MVP balloting.

— Carrie Muskat

11/23 Winter league update

Cubs infielder/outfielder Jake Fox was headed to the Dominican Republic on Monday to join Licey for the second half of the season. As for Cubs prospects currently playing, Brian Schlitter is 6-for-8 in save situations with Mexicali in the Mexican League. The right-hander from Park Ridge, Ill., whom the Cubs acquired from the Phillies in the Scott Eyre deal, has a 3.79 ERA.

Catcher Robinson Chirinos was batting .363 in 29 games with Magallanes in Venezuela. He has six homers and 20 RBIs in 29 games. Andres Blanco was batting .302 for Magallanes with 11 doubles, two triples, two homers and 25 RBIs. He’s played second, short and third in 30 games. And outfielder Nelson Perez was batting .311 in 22 games with Toros del Este in the Dominican Republic.

— Carrie Muskat

11/23 Cubs host Thanksgiving dinner

The Cubs have teamed up with Chicago-based National Runaway Switchboard to provide a Thanksgiving dinner for runaway and homeless youth on Tuesday at St. Luke’s Church in Chicago. It’s the fourth straight year the Cubs have hosted the event.

National Runaway Switchboard’s mission is to keep America’s runaway and at-risk youth safe and off the streets. The organization operates a national communication system for runaway and homeless youth through its 1-800-RUNAWAY crisis hotline and website. Youth and family members call the hotline to work through problems and to find local agencies and organizations to help.

Several members of the Cubs front office staff and WGN’s Cubs television producer Bob Vorwald will volunteer at the event.

— Carrie Muskat 

11/23 Reed Johnson update

Reed Johnson has had an eventful offseason already. The outfielder and his wife, Taryn, welcomed son Tyce into the world on Oct. 26.

Johnson is one of five Cubs players who filed for free agency, joining John Grabow, Kevin Gregg, Rich Harden, and Chad Fox. The team narrowed the list last Friday when it signed Grabow to a two-year deal. The Cubs had an exclusive 15-day window in which to negotiate with Johnson end on Friday, and he said he hasn’t heard much from the team about returning.

“There’s other things they’re trying to take care of,” Johnson said Monday. “My agent said usually teams let that 15-day period go past.”

Johnson would like to come back, and the Cubs are looking for a center fielder and leadoff man.

“We’ll see,” he said.

— Carrie Muskat