Moving on, Cubs release Carlos Silva

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Moving on, Cubs release Carlos Silva

Sunday, March 27, 2011Posted 10:40 a.m. Updated 2:41 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

When things are going good, Carlos Silva can be charming and engaging. But when Silva has doubts, he will tell you exactly what he thinks. The Cubs have apparently heard enough.

One day after Silva ripped the organization and specifically pitching coach Mark Riggins for the way he was treated, the Cubs simply released him, even though hes owed 11.5 million this year.

Sundays move was announced in a terse press release that ran all of two sentences. The Cubs had already told Silva that he wouldnt make the 25-man roster, and he understandably refused to go to Triple-A Iowa as an insurance policy.

General manager Jim Hendry had said that he would explore trade possibilities leading up to Opening Day. But there couldnt have been much of a market for Silva, no matter how much money the Cubs kicked in.

Speaking with the media in Arizona, Hendry called Silvas comments about Riggins totally inappropriate and unacceptable.

"Once again, it's a weakness for somebody who doesn't perform well and chooses to blame somebody else," Hendry told reporters.

Silva gave the Cubs more than they ever could have expected when they took him and cash considerations from the Seattle Mariners in the Milton Bradley deal. He went 8-0 with a 2.93 ERA in his first 11 starts and looked like a potential All-Star.

I love these fans, Silva said after his first Wrigley Field debut. They got so much passion for the game. Its so fun. Ive never seen anything like that. And my favorite part is when we win the game and they sing that song Go Cubs Go. Its like beautiful.

The smiles didnt last forever. A series of health issues limited Silva to just 5.1 innings last August and September and he never really shared in the late-season surge the Cubs enjoyed under manager Mike Quade.

At first, Silva didnt understand why he had to compete for a job as the fifth starter. Then he nearly got into a fight with Aramis Ramirez in the dugout and struggled with his confidence and location.

Even with a strong outing last week Silva allowed one run in six innings and retired 17 of the final 18 Oakland As he faced his spring ERA was still 10.90.

The Cubs are convinced that Andrew Cashner can become a high-end starter and the 24-year-old will take the final spot in the rotation. Casey Coleman, 23, will be ready in Iowa in case of injury. Coleman went 4-2 with a 3.33 ERA in eight starts last season and has impressed many in the organization with his poise and intelligence.

Silva will turn 32 next month and it will be interesting to see if he resurfaces with a National League Central rival that might need another starting pitcher. The Mariners are reportedly responsible for the 2 million buyout of Silvas 2012 option.

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

Cubs Talk Podcast: Patrick Mooney goes one-on-one with Jed Hoyer

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Patrick Mooney goes one-on-one with Jed Hoyer

On the latest edition of the Cubs Talk Podcast, Kelly Crull and Luke Stuckmeyer talk about the first week of spring training. 

The two discuss ace contracts, leadoff intimidation and give their thoughts on the Sammy Sosa saga. 

Plus CSNChicago.com Cubs Insider Patrick Mooney goes one-on-one with general manager Jed Hoyer. 

Listen to the Cubs Talk Podcast below. 

Cubs eager to see the Jason Heyward relaunch in Cactus League

Cubs eager to see the Jason Heyward relaunch in Cactus League

MESA, Ariz. — Cactus League stats are supposed to be irrelevant, especially for the guy with the biggest contract in franchise history. Jason Heyward already built up a reservoir of goodwill as a former All Star, three-time Gold Glove defender and World Series champion. The intangibles got Heyward $184 million guaranteed, and the Cubs are hoping a new comfort level will lead to a Jon Lester effect in Year 2 of that megadeal.

But Heyward will still be one of the most scrutinized players in Mesa after an offseason overhaul that tried to recapture the rhythm and timing he felt with the 2012 Braves (27 homers) and break some of the bad habits that had slowly crept into his high-maintenance left-handed swing.

"If there's ever any doubt," Heyward said, "then you probably shouldn't be here."

Heyward will be batting leadoff and starting in right field on Saturday afternoon when the Cubs open their exhibition schedule with a split-squad game against the A's at Sloan Park. If Heyward has anything to prove this spring, it's "probably to himself, not to us," general manager Jed Hoyer said, backing a player who does the little things so well and commands respect throughout the clubhouse.

"There's going to be growing pains with making adjustments," Hoyer said. "He'll probably have some good days and some bad days. But I think the most important thing is that he feels comfortable and uses these five weeks to lock in and get ready for the Cardinals."

The Cubs are betting on Heyward's age (27), track record (three seasons where he showed up in the National League MVP voting), understanding of the strike zone (.346 career on-base percentage) and willingness to break down his swing this winter at the team's Arizona complex.

At the same time, Heyward realizes "it's just the offseason" and "a never-ending process in baseball." There are no sweeping conclusions to be made when the opposing starting pitcher showers, talks to the media and leaves the stadium before the game ends.

"I'm not sitting here telling you: 'Oh, I know for sure what's going to happen,'" Heyward said. "I don't know how it's going to go. But I know I did a damn good job of preparing for it."

[MORE CUBS: No hard feelings: Cubs and Pedro Strop look to future with contract extension]

Manager Joe Maddon — who gave Heyward nearly 600 plate appearances to figure it out during the regular season (.631 OPS) before turning him into a part-time outfielder in the playoffs (5-for-48) — usually thinks batting practice is overrated or a waste of time. But at 6-foot-5 — and with so much riding on an offensive resurgence — Heyward is hard to miss.

"I can see it's a lot freer and the ball's coming off hotter," Maddon said. "But it's all about game. I'm really eager for him, because everybody just talks about all the work he's done all winter.

"Conversationally with him, I sense or feel like he feels good about it and that he's kind of at a nice peaceful moment with himself. So it will be really fun to watch."

A 103-win season, an American League-style lineup that scored 808 runs, a new appreciation for defensive metrics and a professional attitude helped provide cover for Heyward, who largely escaped the wrath of Cubs fans with little patience for big-ticket free agents.

"Baseball is a game that's going to humble you every day," Heyward said. "You're going to fail more times than you succeed, so it's all about how you handle it, as an individual and as a group. We handled it the best out of anyone last year as a team. And that's why we were able to win the World Series.

"There's always things you feel like you need to work on. You can ask guys who had the best years — there's always something they're trying to improve on and something they don't feel great about at a certain point in time during the year.

"I just happened to have a little bit more breaking down to do. A lot of things allowed me to just kind of pause (and) look forward and not really think about trying to compete and win a game. Let's just get some work done."