November 2012

11/30 Cubs non-tender Stewart

The Cubs non-tendered Ian Stewart on Friday, but hope to re-sign the third baseman, who missed most of last season after needing wrist surgery. The Cubs did tender contracts to right-handed pitchers Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija, left-handed pitcher James Russell, and infielder Luis Valbuena. Garza, Samardzija, Russell, Valbuena and Stewart were arbitration eligible. In addition, 14 players from the Cubs’ 40-man roster were tendered 2013 contracts on Friday. Besides Stewart, the Cubs also non-tendered right-handed pitchers Zach Putnam and Jaye Chapman. Putnam and Chapman were not eligible for arbitration.

Chapman was acquired from the Braves in the Paul Maholm deal. He compiled a 3.52 ERA in 40 games for Triple-A Gwinnett, striking out 60 and walking 29 over 53 2/3 innings. He gave up eight runs on 11 hits and seven walks over 9 1/3 innings in eight games with Triple-A Iowa, and was promoted to the Cubs in September. In 14 games, he struck out 12 and walked 10 over 12 innings, giving up five earned runs in 14 games for a 3.75 ERA.

Putnam, whom the Cubs claimed off waivers from the Rockies on Nov. 2, spent most of the season at Triple-A Colorado Springs, and gave up 28 earned runs on 73 hits and 27 walks over 60 2/3 innings, striking out 49. He was 12-for-17 in save situations. Putnam was originally drafted by the Indians in the fifth round in 2008, then dealt to the Rockies in January this year.

The Cubs also announced pitcher Casey Coleman, who was designated for assignment earlier this week to make room on the 40-man roster for pitcher Scott Feldman, has cleared waivers and been assigned outright to Triple-A Iowa. With the moves, the Cubs’ 40-man roster now stands at 37.

The deadline to tender an arbitration eligible player was 11 p.m. CT Friday. Players who are non-tendered become free agents. The Cubs needed to make the moves to open up roster space.

— Carrie Muskat

11/30 Prepping for Nashville

The Winter Meetings will be next week in Nashville, and the Cubs still have some holes to fill. Whether they sign free agents or acquire talent via trade, one thing is certain. No one is untouchable.

“We lost 101 games last year,” GM Jed Hoyer said. “I don’t think we’re in position to say we have enough talent, or to say to any one player on the roster he’s untouchable. We certainly have several players who we would have a hard time parting with and it would take a heck of a package to make it happen.

“In general, there shouldn’t be many untouchables in the game and there usually aren’t and I think they certainly shouldn’t be on teams looking to acquire a lot of talent,” he said. “I think the answer is no, but that’s no disrespect to the players we have. We just need to acquire a lot of talent.”

It could be a busy week.  The Cubs do want to add more pitching.

“We still look at it as an area of need,” Hoyer said. “We’re actively looking to improve our bullpen and we haven’t been able to address that yet this winter with the exception of bringing back Shawn Camp.”

Plus, because Scott Baker and Arodys Vizcaino, acquired from the Braves, are both coming off Tommy John surgery, and Matt Garza had his season shortened by an elbow injury, the Cubs need depth. They also want to add an outfielder who can play center or right, and need help for the bench.

Hoyer did confirm that Japanese pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa was considering the Cubs and did tour Wrigley Field. However, Hoyer would not comment on the negotiations or provide a timetable. He did say they were impressed by the right-hander.

“If we bring in someone who has closing experience, or a number of guys who have closing experience, that’s no knock on Carlos,” Hoyer said. “I think every team in baseball wants to have an assortment of guys back there who if the need arises can pitch in the ninth inning. Hopefully we can do that.”

— Carrie Muskat

11/30 Cubs face tough decisions

The Cubs have to make decisions today regarding their arbitration eligible players, and GM Jed Hoyer said they will likely non-tender some of them. However, he added that the Cubs hope to be able to keep all of the players and sign them to Minor League contracts. The list includes:

3B Ian Stewart ($2.237 million in 2012)

RHP Matt Garza ($9.5 million in 2012)

RHP Jeff Samardzija ($2.64 million in 2012)

LHP James Russell ($512,500 in 2012)

IF Luis Valbuena ($495,200 in 2012)

Both Stewart and Garza are coming off seasons cut short by injuries.

“We’re still having conversations with a number of players’ agents,” Hoyer said Friday. “It’s very likely we’ll have a couple non-tenders. I think we’ll see ourselves below 40 [on the roster] when we get into tomorrow. It’s also difficult to speculate which players those might be.”

The Cubs are currently at 40 on the roster. The deadline to make a decision regarding whether to tender the arbitration eligible players is 11 p.m. CT.

If a player is non-tendered, he becomes a free agent.

“I think it’s fair to say whenever the list comes out of the guys we do non-tender, that all of the guys we’ll end up non-tendering are guys we hope to get back,” Hoyer said. “We do have some hard decisions to make but we don’t want to lose any of the guys we may cut loose. If we do have to take them off the roster, I hope we can work out deals to keep them.”

— Carrie Muskat 

11/30 Cubs spring schedule

The Cubs will open 2013 Spring Training on Feb. 23 against the Angels in Tempe, and play 17 home games at HoHoKam Park in Mesa, Ariz., plus two exhibition games in Las Vegas. The Cubs’ home opener, in what was expected to be their last season at HoHoKam, will be Feb. 24 against the Giants. Chicago is building a new Spring Training complex in west Mesa, which was scheduled to be ready for 2014 Spring Training. The 2013 schedule includes a trip to Las Vegas for a two-game series, March 16-17, against the Rangers. The Cubs also will play a home night game at HoHoKam Park on March 26 against the Reds. Individual Spring Training game tickets will go on sale Jan. 4 at 10 a.m. CT on or by calling 1-800-905-3315. The ticket box office at HoHoKam Park will open for the sale of individual game tickets beginning Jan. 15 at 9 a.m. MT.

Season tickets at HoHoKam Park go on sale Jan. 3 at 9 a.m. MT. Group tickets will be available starting Jan. 4 at 9 a.m. MT at the HoHoKam box office or by calling (480) 964-4467.

2013 Cubs Spring Training schedule


Feb. 23 vs. Angels at Tempe
Feb. 24 vs. Giants in Mesa
Feb. 25 vs. Dodgers at Glendale
Feb. 26 vs. Rockies in Mesa
Feb. 27 vs. Dodgers in Mesa
Feb. 28 vs. Athletics in Mesa
March 1 vs. Diamondbacks in Mesa
March 2 vs. Giants at Scottsdale
March 3 (ss) vs. Brewers in Mesa; vs. Angels at Tempe
March 4 vs. Indians in Mesa
March 5 vs Rockies at Scottsdale
March 6 vs. Rangers at Surprise
March 7 vs. White Sox in Mesa
March 8 vs. Reds at Goodyear
March 9 vs. Indians in Mesa
March 10 vs. Padres in Mesa
March 11 vs. Diamondbacks at Scottsdale
March 12 off day
March 13 vs. Rockies in Mesa
March 14 vs. Dodgers at Glendale
March 15 vs. White Sox in Glendale
March 16 (ss) vs. Royals in Mesa; vs. Rangers at Las Vegas
March 17 (ss) vs. Athletics at Phoenix; vs. Rangers at Las Vegas
March 18 vs. Padres at Peoria
March 19 vs. Rangers in Mesa
March 20 Off day
March 21 vs. Mariners at Peoria
March 22 vs. Brewers at Maryvale
March 23 vs. Angels in Mesa
March 24 vs. Indians at Goodyear
March 25 vs. Giants in Mesa
March 26 vs. Reds in Mesa
March 27 vs. Royals at Surprise
March 28 vs. Mariners in Mesa


11/30 Help Kerry Wood help kids

Kerry Wood and his family are doing their part to help Chicago area kids stay warm. The Wood Family Foundation has partnered with Harry Caray’s Restaurants to support students in the Englewood and Lawndale areas. You can donate new hats, gloves and scaves at the restaurants drop off boxes until Jan. 18. On that day, Wood will host his Winter Warm-Up at Harry Caray’s Tavern Navy Pier. Last year’s event featured the Plain White Tee’s. Tickets are $150 and can be purchased at You also can order Woody’s Winter Whiskey drink at Harry Caray’s tavern through Jan. 18, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to the foundation.

— Carrie Muskat

11/30 Cubs kickoff toy drive


11/30 Happy holidays


11/29 Rizzo’s Walk-a-thon Dec. 9

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo was a guest on MLB Network Thursday to discuss his offseason and upcoming “Walk Off for Cancer,” which will be held Dec. 9 in Parkland, Fla. Rizzo is hosting the event in his hometown — and hopes to have a cancer-awareness fundraiser in the Chicago area, too. Half of the proceeds from the Dec. 9 event will go to Livestrong, and the other half to the University of Miami where Rizzo underwent treatment. He is a cancer survivor. In late April 2008, he was diagnosed with limited state classical Hodgkins lymphoma. How long did it take for him to recover and feel normal?

“I had treatment for six months and when I started working out again, it took about three months to feel somewhat strong,” Rizzo said.

For more info — and to donate to his cause — go to


11/29 Dempster update

FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal reports the Brewers, Red Sox and Angels are among the teams pursuing Ryan Dempster, who was believed to be seeking a three-year deal. Dempster, 35, compiled a 3.38 ERA in 173 innings for the Cubs and Rangers last season. The right-hander also has been linked to the Dodgers, Twins and Cubs, but the Cubs most likely would not offer a three-year contract.

Cubs GM Jed Hoyer was asked this week if the team would consider a long-term, multi-year commitment to a pitcher.

“It’s so early in the offseason, it’s hard to assess that kind of question,” Hoyer said. “Two of the main guys we targeted going into winter were [Scott] Baker and [Scott] Feldman. We felt both guys were very similar and thought they would both benefit coming to the National League. We felt they would both have upside left, both were young. Whether we would add a guy on a multi-year commitment, I think that depends on the player and the opportunity for us.”

Baker and Feldman both signed one-year deals with the Cubs this month.

— Carrie Muskat

11/29 Josh Vitters update

Josh Vitters is back home after a brief stint in Venezuela. He switched teams, leaving the Caracas squad after two games to play for an affiliate so he could get more playing time, the Cubs said. But Vitters has now returned to the U.S. to work out for the rest of the winter. Vitters, 23, batted .304 at Triple-A Iowa last season and was 12-for-99 (.121) in 36 games with the Cubs.

— Carrie Muskat