Cubs preparing to open new complex by 2014

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Cubs preparing to open new complex by 2014

Friday, Feb. 18, 2011
Posted 4:14 p.m. Updated 8:51 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. The Cubs expect to be anchored in Arizona for decades to come and hope to break ground on their new complex this fall. The Ricketts family has toured every other facility in the Cactus League and plans to select an architectural firm within the next few weeks.

Board member Todd Ricketts visited Fitch Park on Friday, one day before the teams first official workout, and said that he anticipates no more legal or political hurdles in Mesa.

Were still talking to the city, getting the final details of our agreement, Ricketts said. But I think everythings lined up and were going to be here in Mesa for a long time.

The timeline isnt firm, though Ricketts said: Id hate to commit to 2013, but 2014 for sure.

The Cubs are looking to sell naming rights at a ballpark that will take visual cues from Wrigley Field and hold close to 15,000 fans. HoHoKam Stadiums current capacity is 13,100.

Ricketts said the family is focused on building the stadium first and hasnt gotten too deep into plans for developing what will be an adjacent Wrigleyville West retail complex.

With the Rockies and Diamondbacks opening a new site in Scottsdale, all 15 Cactus League teams are now located in the metropolitan Phoenix area, typically no more than an hour drive from one stadium to the next. The Cubs began play at the new HoHoKam Park in 1997 and regularly lead the league in attendance.

There has been a bit of a keep up with the Joneses mentality, Ricketts said. Were less about the glitz. Were more about the business. We want a facility thats going to be able to help us win.

At the same time, ownership is trying to find new financial mechanisms to renovate Wrigley Field, after last years initial proposal was met with overwhelming public resistance.

Thats kind of an ongoing process, Ricketts said. Im going to give a guess that some point in the next year or so were going to have something definitive on what were going to do with Wrigley. But I feel confident were going to get that renovation done. It needs to be done.

Waiting on Ramirez and Castro

Alfonso Soriano arrived at Fitch Park on Friday afternoon, leaving Aramis Ramirez and Starlin Castro as the only two Cubs yet to report at that point. Thats how Ramirez rolls, and he has the veteran status to back it up.

Castro is 20 years old and hasnt played a full season in the big leagues yet. It doesnt bother manager Mike Quade, who knows that Castro played winter ball and had several members of the organization visit him in the Dominican Republic.

Its great that these guys are here early, Quade said, but its a seven-week camp and we got guys here for a month (already). The dedication is incredible, and I love it, but at some point this really becomes a long year. You want guys peaking when April comes.

Had he not played any winter ballthen it might have been a different story, but no, its all good.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Kyle Hendricks is back, but Cubs will likely have to wait for their next shot at Yu Darvish

Kyle Hendricks is back, but Cubs will likely have to wait for their next shot at Yu Darvish

Within the first several weeks of the Theo Epstein administration, the Cubs finished second in the Yu Darvish sweepstakes, though nowhere close to the $51.7 million the Texas Rangers bid for the exclusive rights to negotiate a six-year, $60 million deal with the Japanese superstar.

The Cubs will probably have to wait a few more months for their next shot at Darvish, who is “unlikely to move” before the July 31 trade deadline, a source monitoring the situation said Monday. Darvish means enough to the franchise’s bottom line as a box-office draw and magnet for corporate sponsors that the Rangers would be reluctant to trade a player with global appeal and potentially jeopardize that relationship heading into free agency this winter.

Beyond the possible impact on re-signing Darvish, that would also mean foreclosing on a season where Texas is only 2.5 games out of an American League wild-card spot, making this final week critical to the buy-or-sell decision.

The Cubs would obviously prefer to stay out of the rental market after shipping two top prospects to the White Sox in the Jose Quintana deal. Quintana’s reasonable contract – almost $31 million between next season and 2020 once two team options are picked up – creates financial flexibility for a free-agent megadeal (Darvish?) or the next big-time international player.

But the cost of doing business with the White Sox probably means the Cubs wouldn’t have the super-elite prospect to anchor a trade for Darvish, anyway. That would be another obstacle in any possible deal for Sonny Gray, with an AL source saying the New York Yankees are going hard after the Oakland A’s right-hander (and have a deeper farm system and a greater sense of urgency after missing on Quintana).

All that means Kyle Hendricks could function as the trade-deadline addition for the rotation, with the Cubs instead trying to shorten games and deepen their bullpen by July 31.

After spending more than six weeks on the disabled list, the Cubs activated Hendricks for the start of this week’s crosstown series, watching him pitch into the fifth inning of Monday’s 3-1 loss to a White Sox team that had lost nine straight games.

[Willson Contreras may be ‘the f------ Energizer Bunny,’ but Cubs still need to get another catcher before trade deadline]

Hendricks is a rhythm/feel pitcher who blossomed from an overlooked prospect in the Texas system into a piece in the buzzer-beater Ryan Dempster deal at the 2012 deadline into last year’s major-league ERA leader.

Hendricks clearly isn’t locked in yet. He gave up eight hits, but minimized the damage against the White Sox, allowing only one run while putting up five strikeouts against zero walks.

“He wasn’t as normal,” manager Joe Maddon said. “The velocity was still down a little bit. There was not a whole lot of difference between his pitches. He was not what you would call ‘on.’ He would be the first one to tell you that. He looked fine delivery-wise, but the ball just wasn’t coming out as normal.”

Hendricks described his fastball command as “terrible,” called his secondary pitches “OK” and ultimately came to this conclusion: “Health-wise, everything felt great, so we’ll take that. Just got to get back (to my routine).”

The biggest takeaway is Hendricks didn’t feel any lingering effects from the right hand tendinitis that was initially classified as a minor injury in early June. Meaning the Cubs (51-47) are just about at full strength and have another week left to upgrade the defending World Series champs.

Are You Smarter than a Cubs/White Sox Fan?

Are You Smarter than a Cubs/White Sox Fan?

The crosstown rivalry doesn't end on the diamond.

Both Cubs and White Sox fans are highly competitive when it comes to trivia, too. 

We found that out when we bounced around Wrigley Field to quiz North and South Siders in a special edition of "Are You Smarter than a Cubs/White Sox Fan?" 

Watch the video above as we pitted fans against eachother for the chance to win a killer shirt.