Quade a 'non-stop ball of energy' at Cubs camp

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Quade a 'non-stop ball of energy' at Cubs camp

Friday, Feb. 25, 2011Posted: 1:06 p.m.

By David Kaplan
CSNChicago.com

The latest from Cubs camp for Thursday, and Friday February 24, 25...

Thursday

Mesa, AZ: Today the entire team spent a considerable amount of time working on base running with first base coach Bobby Dernier teaching and instructing the entire team on what is expected of them.

Camp is run in stations and with no time wasted moving from field to field. Pitchers I saw on the mound today included Randy Wells and Jeff Samardizija who are both hoping to make the team after very disappointing 2010 campaigns. Samardizija is showing excellent velocity while Wells looks trim and very eager to put last season behind him.

Baseball Tonight has their Baseball 2011 bus here today with Tim Kurkjian and John Kruk and they interviewed Ryan Dempster, Mike Quade, and Marlon Byrd as they preview the Cubs. Dempster did a spot on impersonation of Chris Farleys Matt Foley character that was so good that it will probably go viral...

Aramis Ramirez looked great in a live BP session as he ripped line drive after line drive. Also, looking good was Tyler Colvin...

Manager Mike Quade was right in the middle of a base running drill and was nearly smoked by a line drive that came right back through the box. Quade was on the pitchers mound teaching and deftly snagged the shot with his glove, drawing a large cheer from the fans in attendance at Fitch Park...

Quade also announced the scheduled pitchers for the first four exhibition games:

Sunday: Carlos Zambrano, Matt Garza

Mon: Randy Wells, Andrew Cashner

Tuesday: Ryan Dempster, Todd Wellemeyer, and Casey Coleman

Wednesday: Carlos Silva, James Russell

Friday

Today is moving day for the Cubs as they officially end the Fitch Park portion of camp and move over to Ho Ho Kam Stadium with Cactus League play opening on Sunday when the Cubs play the Oakland As. The locker rooms are filled with boxes as the clubhouse staff led by the incomparable Tom Otis Hellman and Gary Stark are packing up the stuff they just unpacked a few weeks ago and moving it just a mile away to the stadium where the Cubs play their spring training home games. Having to move in the middle of camp just further demonstrates the need for a new spring training facility. The people who run the current facilities are extremely dedicated and very nice but the Cubs have extremely outdated facilities compared to the rest of the teams in the Cactus League.

Lots of work in the batting cages again today as all of the players seem to really be buying into Rudy Jaramillo and his philosophy. In fact, one player said to me that upon his arrival in camp last week, Aramis Ramirez went to Jaramillo and asked to work with him to make sure he gets off to a great start. Thats a far cry from a year ago when he and Derrek Lee went about their work themselves despite being mired in terrible slumps.

Just watched a GREAT teaching moment this morning as Mike Quade stopped a contact drill (where the Cubs have men on first and third and have the runner on third going home on contact) to instruct top prospect Brett Jackson who was the base runner on third. Jackson tried to score when he clearly had no chance on a ball hit right back to the pitcher. Quade stopped the drill to instruct Jackson and told me this after he finished his teaching moment.

I had to tell him that the base runner on third has the responsibility on a hard hit ball that he cannot score on to get caught in a rundown long enough to allow the man on first to get to second. That makes the best out of a bad situation because the man on third will be tagged out. He was hustling on the play but I have to make sure he understands the correct way to run that play. We saw great energy from Quade and it is great to see him stressing fundamentals to this degree.

Again, I cannot stress to you enough the energy that is evident in camp. Long time baseball writer Tim Kurkjian told me yesterday that he has visited all of the camps in Arizona and the energy at Cubs camp was something he hadnt seen in a long time. That is all a tribute to Mike Quade who is a non-stop ball of energy from the moment he arrives at camp, which is around 6 a.m. until well into the evening.

Tune in for a live report from Cubs spring training today on CTL at 5:30 and on SportsNet Central at 6:30, 10:00 and midnight

David Kaplan is the host of Chicago Tribune Live on Comcast SportsNet. Follow him on Twitter @thekapman.

For Cubs, winter meetings will be all about the hunt for pitching 

For Cubs, winter meetings will be all about the hunt for pitching 

As the Cubs prepare for the winter meetings outside Washington, D.C., their messaging might as well be: It’s the pitching, stupid.

This is an arms race that will never end, the Cubs trying to defend their first World Series title in 108 years, build out a bullpen that looked pretty thin by November and target the kind of young starter who could help anchor their rotation for years to come, ensuring Wrigleyville remains baseball’s biggest party.

The Cubs signed Brian Duensing to a one-year, $2 million contract on Friday, placing a small bet on a lefty specialist who spent parts of last season on the Triple-A level but made a good enough impression during his 13-plus innings with the Baltimore Orioles.

As executives, scouts, agents and reporters begin to flood into National Harbor on Sunday, the Cubs will intensify their search for pitching, everything from headliners to insurance policies to prospects.

“That’s been the significant bulk of our efforts,” general manager Jed Hoyer said, “It’s definitely not going to be through lack of trying on our part to make that kind of deal. That’s now. That’s at the deadline.”  

The Cubs are preparing for Opening Day 2018, when Jake Arrieta will probably be in a different uniform after signing his megadeal, John Lackey might be kicking back in Texas and enjoying retirement and Jon Lester will be 34 years old with maybe 2,300 innings on his odometer. 

The Cubs have unwavering faith in their pitching infrastructure at the major-league level, from the scouting and analytic perspectives that identified the right sign-and-flip deals during the rebuilding years to the coaching staff that helped mold Kyle Hendricks into a Cy Young Award finalist and a World Series Game 7 starter.

Mike Montgomery notched the final out against the Cleveland Indians and the Cubs see him as their next big project. The lefty checks so many of their boxes, from age (27) to size (6-foot-5) to pedigree (former first-round pick/top prospect) to the change-of-scenery confidence boost/mental reset.

Forget about the White Sox trading Chris Sale to the North Side and don’t just think about obvious names or trade partners. Maybe it’s making a deal for a guy you never heard of before and sifting through the non-tender bin. (As expected, the Cubs offered contracts to arbitration-eligible pitchers Arrieta, Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop and Justin Grimm before Friday’s deadline. Their 40-man roster stands at 35 after non-tendering lefties Gerardo Concepcion and Zac Rosscup, right-hander Conor Mullee and infielder Christian Villanueva.)

Remember how team president Theo Epstein framed the Montgomery trade with the Seattle Mariners this summer – comparing him to All-Star reliever Andrew Miller – and that gives you an idea of how they can address their pitching deficit this winter. 

“If your scouts do a good job of identifying the guys who are trending in the right direction – and you’re willing to take a shot – sometimes there’s a big payoff at the end,” Epstein said.   

While the Cubs did Jason Hammel a favor by cutting him loose and allowing him to explore the market as one of the best pitchers in an extremely weak class of free agents, Montgomery has only 23 big-league starts on his resume. 

[SHOP CUBS: Get your World Series champions gear right here]

The Cubs had five starters make at least 29 starts this year, while four starters accounted for 30-plus starts in 2015, a remarkable run that led to 200 wins.

“As we’ve talked about so many times,” Hoyer said, “we do have an imbalance in our organization – hitting vs. pitching – and we’re trying to make sure we can accumulate as much pitching depth as possible. 

“We were very healthy this year, which was wonderful and a big part of why we won the World Series. I don’t think you can always count on that kind of health every single year. Building up a reservoir of depth – preferably guys you can option (to the minors) – is something (we’re trying) to accomplish.”  

The Cubs have Jorge Soler stuck in a crowded outfield plus the types of interesting prospects who appear to be blocked – catcher Victor Caratini, third baseman Jeimer Candelario, infielder/outfielder Ian Happ – to make relatively painless trades for pitching (if not the kind of blockbuster deal that dominates coverage of the winter meetings).

Lefty reliever Brett Cecil getting a four-year, $30.5 million deal and no-trade protection from the St. Louis Cardinals became another sign of how shallow this free-agent pool is for starting pitchers and a reflection of a postseason where the bullpen became a major storyline.

The idea of Kenley Jansen intrigues the Cubs – and Aroldis Chapman made a favorable impression during his three-plus months with the team – but Epstein’s front office already made the major upgrades for 2017 by spending nearly $290 million on free agents after the 2015 playoff run. Philosophically, the Cubs also see smarter long-term investments than trying to win a bidding war for a guy who might throw 70 innings a year. 

With that in mind, the Cubs could get creative and have looked at free agent Greg Holland, a two-time All-Star closer with the Kansas City Royals who didn’t pitch this year after having Tommy John surgery on his right elbow.  

Remember that Chapman left the New York Yankees and joined a team that had a 56-1 record when leading entering the ninth inning. If Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. can’t handle the late shifts, then the Cubs could always go out and trade for another closer in the middle of a pennant race.    

The Cubs have the luxuries of time, zero pressure from ownership, their fan base or the Chicago media and a stacked, American League-style lineup. 

“Right now, we could go play from an offensive standpoint and feel very good about our group,” Hoyer said. “We’re going to still continue to look to improve the depth in our bullpen, improve the depth in our starting rotation. Those are things that probably never go away. You probably never stop trying to build that depth.” 

What will LeBron James wear to pay up on Cubs World Series bet with Dwyane Wade?

What will LeBron James wear to pay up on Cubs World Series bet with Dwyane Wade?

LeBron James is coming to town, and he will be all decked out in Cubs gear.

The Cavs are in Chicago to take on the Bulls Friday night at the United Center and it's time for LeBron to pay up on his World Series bet with Dwyane Wade.

The two former teammates made the wager during the World Series as LeBron's hometown Indians took on Wade's hometown Cubs, with the loser wearing the winning baseball team's gear when they showed up in the opposing city. This is LeBron's first trip to Chicago this season.

Wade and LeBron already acknowledged they're having fun with this and have a whole spectacle planned with a national TV audience.

LeBron told the Akron Beacon Journal he's not going to try to take the easy way out and just toss on a Cubs jersey. He is planning socks, hat, pants and possibly more. But he won't wear cleats or bring a glove with him.

[SHOP CUBS: Get your World Series champions gear right here]

When the Cubs won it all a month ago Friday, Wade posted an Instagram photo of LeBron wearing a Cubs uniform:

And ESPN had a cutout of LeBron sporting a No. 23 Cubs road gray jersey outside the United Center Friday morning:

CSN Bulls Insider Vincent Goodwill wonders whether LeBron will don signature Joe Maddon glasses, too.

This is gonna be fun, you guys.