January 2013

1/31 W Partners

Wally Hayward is leaving his job as executive vice president and chief sales and marketing officer with the Cubs to form his own company, which will be a joint venture with the Ricketts family. According to reports on Thursday, the Cubs will be the first client for Hayward’s new company, W Partners. The company will represent teams, leagues and athletes in procuring sponsorships. It will work with the Cubs on the renovation of Wrigley Field and the new Spring Training complex in Mesa, Ariz. Hayward’s position with the Cubs will not be replaced.

1/31 Lawyer: Marmol innocent

A lawyer for Carlos Marmol told the Chicago Tribune on Thursday that Cubs pitcher is innocent of accuations made by a 24-year-old woman in the Dominican Republic. According to ListinDiario.com, a woman filed a criminal complaint against Marmol. No police charges have been filed. Marmol’s attorney, Nelson Pimentel, told the Tribune he has filed a counter complaint, accusing the woman of trying to extort and blackmail the pitcher.

“Carlos Marmol is totally innocent of the things he is accused of,” Pimentel told the Tribune. “They never occurred. She is only trying to get money out of Carlos Marmol. It is very important for us to say the legal case against him is not true.”

1/31 Winter league update

Luis Valbuena went 1-for-4, but it wasn’t enough as Magallanes defeated Lara, 11-9, in the deciding Game 7 of the Venezuelan championship on Wednesday. The Giants’ Pablo Sandoval had three hits, including a two-run homer, to power Magallanes into the Caribbean Series, which begins Friday in Hermosillo, Mexico. Former Cubs prospect Austin Bibens-Dirkx started for Magallanes and gave up five runs — including two in the first — on seven hits over three innings.

— Carrie Muskat

1/30 Cubs place 3 in top 100 prospects

The Cubs had three players included in MLB.com’s top 100 prospects, revealed Tuesday night on MLB Network. The trio includes Javier Baez (ranked No. 16), and outfielders Albert Almora (No. 39) and Jorge Soler (No. 42). The annual ranking of baseball’s biggest and brightest young talent is assembled by MLB.com’s Draft and prospect expert Jonathan Mayo, who compiles input from industry sources, including scouts and scouting directors. It is based on analysis of players’ skill sets, upsides, closeness to the Majors and potential immediate impact to their teams. The list only includes players with rookie status in 2013.

Baez, 20, batted .333 with 12 home runs, 10 doubles and 33 RBIs in 57 games at Class A Peoria, then hit .188 when promoted to Class A Daytona. Almora, 18, the Cubs’ top pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, played for the Arizona Rookie League team and also Class A Boise last season, and combined to bat .321. Soler, who turns 21 on Feb. 25, played in the Rookie League and then Peoria last season, hitting a combined .299 with five home runs and 25 RBIs in 34 games. The Cuban outfielder signed a nine-year, $30 million contract with the Cubs last June. He made Wrigley Field look small in September when he took batting practice with the Cubs, hitting five home runs, including two that cleared the left field bleachers.

— Carrie Muskat

1/30 Winter League update

Luis Valbuena hit a solo homer but it wasn’t enough Tuesday as Magallanes topped Lara, 7-3, to force a deciding seventh game in the Venezuelan championship series. Valbuena was 1-for-3, and batting .345 in the postseason. Game 7 will be played Wednesday.

— Carrie Muskat

1/29 Winter league update

Luis Valbuena scored the game-winning run on Jose Yepez’s 11th inning single to lift Lara to a 3-2 win over Carlos Zambrano and Magallanes on Monday in the Venezuelan championship series. Valbuena was 1-for-4, but reached in the 11th on an error. Zambrano gave up two runs, one earned, on eight hits over six innings, striking out five. Lara leads the best-of-seven series, 3-2, with Game 6 on Tuesday. The winner advances to the Caribbean Series.

— Carrie Muskat

1/28 Winter League update

Cubs infielder Luis Valbuena and Cardenales de Lara need a win Monday. Lara and Magallanes are tied at two wins apiece in the best-of-seven Venezuelan championship series, and will meet again Monday. On Saturday, Valbuena went 2-for-5 in a 6-5 loss. On Friday, he homered in the fifth inning to lift Lara to a 3-0 win, and was batting .350 in the playoffs.

— Carrie Muskat

1/28 Vogelbach 8th among 1B prospects

MLB.com released it’s top 10 first base prospects, and the Cubs’ Dan Vogelbach was listed at No. 8. Here’s MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo on the infielder:

“When Vogelbach was an amateur, he created a good amount of buzz with his left-handed power bat. Vogelbach has not disappointed as a pro after the Cubs took him in the second round in 2011. He has as much raw pop as anyone in the Minors at this position and can hit the ball out to all fields. Vogelbach has an advanced approach that has allowed him to get on base and hit for average. He was very out of shape in high school but has worked hard to slim down since signing, something he will have to continue to do as his bat propels him up the organization ladder.”

MLB.com will release top outfielders on Monday. Check Cubs.com for that story later in the day.

— Carrie Muskat

1/27 Villanueva signs and rumors

In case you missed it, Carlos Villanueva finally signed with the Cubs. The team made an official announcement late Saturday. The right-handed pitcher agreed to a two-year, $10 million deal that will pay him $5 million each year. He could contend for a spot in the rotation.

Right-handed pitcher Lendy Castillo, who was acquired in the Rule 5 Draft in 2011, was designated for assignment to make room for Villanueva on the 40-man roster. If he isn’t claimed, Castillo could rejoin the Cubs.

The team has yet to finalize its agreement with outfielder Scott Hairston. That also will require the front office to create an opening on the 40-man.

* There were reports Sunday that the Orioles and Rangers were interested in adding a right-handed bat, and that they have inquired about Alfonso Soriano. The Boston Globe reported the interest by the two teams in the veteran, who turned 37 earlier this month, and who would be a good fit for an American League team, which could use him as a designated hitter. Soriano does have a full no trade clause, so he would have to approve a move. He has two years remaining on his contract.

— Carrie Muskat

1/24 Cubs spring broadcast schedule

Fans who can’t get to Arizona to watch the Cubs’ Spring Training games will be able to keep up either on TV, radio or the internet. The Cubs will televise six Cactus League games (four on WGN TV, two on Comcast SportsNet), broadcast nine on WGN Radio network, and 25 via Internet radio broadcast on Cubs.com. The Cubs webcasts on Cubs.com and MLB.com will be free for fans who register for a log-in account with the website. In total, 36 of the 39 games will be available to Cubs fans.

Two games also have been added to the Cubs’ spring schedule. They will play a World Baseball Classic opponent at HoHoKam Stadium on March 15, plus play the Dodgers in Tucson on March 21 to benefit the Christina-Taylor Green Memorial Foundation. The Cubs close out their 2013 spring schedule against the Astros in Houston, March 29-30.

WGN Radio will broadcast Chicago’s first spring game on Feb. 23 against the Angels. The first televised game will be on WGN TV on March 16 when the Cubs play host to the Royals in Mesa, Ariz. Comcast SportsNet’s first game will be March 25 against the Giants.

Cubs TV play-by-play announcer Len Kasper will join Mick Gillispie, radio broadcaster for Double-A Tennessee for most of the Cubs.com broadcasts, presented by United Airlines. The first Cubs.com game with Kasper and Gillispie will be Feb. 24 against the Giants.

All games start at 1:05 p.m. Arizona time unless otherwise noted.

DATE/OPPONENT/SITE/Broadcast Availability

Feb. 23: at Angels, Tempe, WGN Radio
Feb. 24: vs. Giants, Mesa, Cubs.com
Feb. 25: at Dodgers, Glendale, Cubs.com
Feb. 26: vs. Rockies, Mesa, Cubs.com
Feb. 27: vs. Dodgers, Mesa, Cubs.com
Feb. 28: vs. Athletics, Mesa, Cubs.com
March 1: vs. Diamondbacks, Mesa, Cubs.com
March 2: at Giants, Scottsdale, WGN Radio
March 3 (ss): vs. Brewers, Mesa, Cubs.com; vs. Angels, Tempe
March 4: vs. Indians, Mesa, Cubs.com
March 5: at Rockies, Scottsdale, Cubs.com
March 6: at Rangers, Surprise, Cubs.com
March 7: vs. White Sox, Mesa, Cubs.com
March 8: at Reds, Goodyear, Cubs.com (7:05 p.m. MT)
March 9: vs. Indians, Mesa, WGN Radio
March 10: vs. Padres, Mesa, Cubs.com
March 11: at Diamondbacks, Scottsdale, Cubs.com
March 12: Off day
March 13: vs. Rockies, Mesa, Cubs.com
March 14: at Dodgers, Glendale, Cubs.com
March 15 (ss): vs. World Baseball Classic team, Mesa; at White Sox, Glendale, Cubs.com
March 16 (ss): vs. Royals, Mesa, WGN-TV; vs. Rangers, Las Vegas, WGN Radio
March 17 (ss): at Athletics, Phoenix, WGN-TV; vs. Rangers, Las Vegas, WGN Radio
March 18: at Padres, Peoria, Cubs.com
March 19: vs. Rangers, Mesa, Cubs.com
March 20: Off day
March 21 (ss): at Mariners, Peoria, WGN Radio; vs. Dodgers, Tucson
March 22: at Brewers, Maryvale, WGN-TV, Cubs.com
March 23: vs. Angels, Mesa, WGN Radio, WGN-TV
March 24: at Indians, Goodyear, WGN Radio
March 25: vs. Giants, Mesa, Comcast SportsNet, Cubs.com
March 26: vs. Reds, Mesa, Cubs.com (7:05 p.m. MT)
March 27: at Royals, Surprise, WGN Radio (6:05 p.m. MT)
March 28: vs. Mariners, Mesa, Comcast SportsNet, Cubs.com
March 29: at Astros, Houston, Cubs.com (7:05 p.m. CT)
March 30: at Astros, Houston, Cubs.com (1:05 p.m. CT)

— Carrie Muskat