A League of Her Own

Tuesday Cubs Headlines: Z, Spring Training and Ari Fleischer?

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 In case you missed it in the comments yesterday, a guy watching Spring Training in Mesa tweeted that Z hit a 400-foot HR to straightaway CF yesterday. Wooo! Just give him the 5th OF spot already!

Alas, while we're all waiting with baited breath (ew) for something exciting to happen in camp, the powers that be are hoping for the opposite:

Camp Ho Hum is not exactly the Cubs' style, though Hendry is dreaming it will happen, and having St. Louis as the Central Division's favorite helps.

"It's a good thing," Hendry said. "We never got too caught up when we were predicted to win every game, and certainly if we're predicted to not win the division, it won't be a negative to any of our players."

The roster turnover was minimal, so there won't be a need for an adjustment period at camp. Besides Bradley, last spring saw the arrival of Luis Vizcaino, Aaron Miles, Aaron Heilman and Kevin Gregg. All five are gone, while Marlon Byrd, Xavier Nady and Carlos Silva lead the new cast.

Little logic would dictate a 97-win season leads to a roster overhaul, while an 83-win season leads to standing pat. But budget constraints, no-trade clauses and management's faith that young players such as
Geovany Soto and Mike Fontenot will rebound led to a relatively quiet offseason.

If I have to grab Fontenot off the field in Mesa, tie him up, toss him in the back of my car, and hold him in a safehouse somewhere to get people to stop thinking he can start, so help me, I'll do it!

In other news that makes Julie's head explode, it looks like a whole lot of people were willing to pay a 20% premium for the privilege of dealing with virtual waiting room hell on Monday, rather than Friday:

MESA, Ariz. -- The Cubs declared the first day of their ticket presale a "big success" on Monday, though figures won't be released until later this week.

"We had tremendous traction with the fans and received a lot of comments," Cubs marketing chief Wally Hayward said. "Fans appreciated the chance to purchase tickets without the long waits and have access to games they want to see. We were transparent about it. Day One ... was a big success."

The Cubs teamed up with MasterCard to promote the plan, which gives fans a chance to buy individual-game tickets at a 20 percent premium from Monday through Thursday, before they go on sale at the listed price on Friday morning. Those paying with a MasterCard credit card get a 5 percent discount off the presale price.

I, through gritted teeth, actually bought tickets to two "must have" games yesterday, so I'm as guilty as everyone else for letting this team walk all over me. The "presale" will continue until Thursday, and you might consider popping over and paying $54 for a bleacher ticket to LOHO Day, which will be June 19 against the Braves. 

If, on the other hand, the rooftops are actually starting to look like a good deal to you, consider RSVPing "yes" for a LOHO/Cubs Fan Meetup at Skybox on Sheffiled on May 18 (7:00 pm game). $75 gets you on the roof PLUS all you can eat and drink. I need a firm head count for this one, so please email or drop me a DM on Twitter if you wish to attend.

Luckily for us, Bruce Miles is on his way to Mesa! But before he left, he took the time to draw us up a little "Spring Training Primer." This kind of giving nature is one of the reasons we continue to (heart) Bruce:

We may find out this week whether Ryan Theriot has won his arbitration case. It'll be fun interviewing The Riot about that, win or lose.

Here's the roster of Cubs players who will be in spring training:

Pitchers: Mitch Atkins, Justin Berg, Esmailin Caridad, Ryan Dempster, Rafael Dolis, John Gaub, Tom Gorzelanny, John Grabow, Jeff Gray, Angel Guzman, Ted Lilly, Carlos Marmol, Sean Marshall, Marcos Mateo, Mike Parisi, Blake Parker, David Patton, Jeff Samardzija, Carlos Silva, Jeff Stevens, Randy Wells, Carlos Zambrano

Catchers: Welington Castillo, Koyie Hill, Geovany Soto

Infielders: Jeff Baker, Andres Blanco, Mike Fontenot, Micah Hoffpauir, Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, Ryan Theriot

Outfielders: James Adduci, Marlon Byrd, Tyler Colvin, Kosuke Fukudome, Sam Fuld, Xavier Nady, Alfonso Soriano

Nonroster invitees
Pitchers: Andrew Cashner, Casey Coleman, Thomas Diamond, Jeff Kennard, J.R. Mathes, Vince Perkins, James Russell

Catchers: Robinson Chirinos, Steve Clevenger, Chris Robinson

Infielders: Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro, Blake Lalli, Kevin Millar, Chad Tracy, Josh Vitters

Outfielders: Matt Camp, Brett Jackson, Bryan LaHair, Bobby Scales, Brad Snyder

Obvious player to watch: Starlin Castro

Dark-horse candidates to watch: Darwin Barney, Blake Parker

Pitching prospect to watch: Andrew Cashner

Annual Rule 5 pick: Mike Parisi

Big Number: 12. The Cubs have 21 nonroster men in camp. They like to point out that 12 of those 21 were either drafted by or signed originally by the Cubs. The last four No. 1 picks will be there: Brett Jackson, Andrew Cashner, Josh Vitters and Tyler Colvin. It'll also be interesting to see such pitchers as Casey Coleman, John Gaub and Thomas Diamond

Medical watch: Ted Lilly (shoulder rehab); Aramis Ramirez (shoulder rehab), Alfonso Soriano (knee rehab)

Position battles: Nos. 4 and 5 starters, involving Sean Marshall, Tom Gorzelanny, Carlos Silva and Jeff Samardzija. Also, keep an eye on the battle for reserve spots, among Micah Hoffpauir, Kevin Millar, Chad Tracy and Bryan LaHair.

Big question: Can Starlin Castro break with the team and push Theriot to second base? From what GM Jim Hendry says, that's doubtful, but I suspect we'll see Castro up with the big club before 2010 is over.

And, lest you be a bit worried about some of these positions heading into ST, Gordon Wittenmeyer has taken it upon himself to solve all the Cubs' problems! You'd better watch your back, Bruce, we may have a new favorite beat reporter. . . I don't see YOU out there solving all the Cubs' problems!

Observe:

We might have to wait till September to fully separate fact from fiction with these slightly remixed Cubs, but here are a few myth-busters on the eve of pitchers and catchers reporting for spring training:

Myth: The Cubs are cooked before they start because their lineup is too right-handed. Only mediocre hitter Kosuke Fukudome is looking at guaranteed regular starting time, and unproven Mike Fontenot is the next lefty in line for large numbers of at-bats.

Fact is, most championship teams have a strong left-handed presence in their lineups, and middle-order lefty hitters who hit lefty pitching are invaluable. But also consider that three of the last seven World Series champs didn't have dominant lefty regulars in their lineups. Neither the 2005 White Sox nor the '03 Florida Marlins had a lefty hitter reach .800 in on-base plus slugging percentage. And the 2006 St. Louis Cardinals had no lefty with more than 350 at-bats reach that mark.

Bottom line: Teams that pitch the best in the postseason win 

 So you see kids, there's NO REASON WHATSOEVER for us to put Mike Fontenot in the starting lineup!

And finally in news of the weird today, Mark McGwire has hired former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer to handle his PR. Because, you know, he did such a great job selling George Bush to the American People:

What's also fine for McGwire is the fact that if spring rush comes to steroid crunch with new quill-and-scrollers, his top media man never will be far away -- either in-person or via text, e-mail or cell phone.

And that man is no mere baseball PR sentinel.

He's Ari Fleischer, and if that name rings familiar, it should.

For 2½ tempestuous years (January 2001 to July 2003), Fleischer was the White House press secretary for President George W. Bush.

His tenure spanned the dicey image cleanup after the 2000 Florida recount, the staggering events of Sept. 11, 2001, and their aftermath and extended all the way to the sordid disclosures involving outed CIA agent Valerie Plame.

Since leaving the White House, Fleischer -- in partnership with IMG -- the international talent agency and sports production giant -- has been the chief executive and principal asset of Ari Fleischer Sports Communication.

Fleischer primarily deals in media training for sports and corporate entities -- including no fewer than seven NFL teams -- strategic consulting and ''one-on-one'' crisis management.

Just when I didn't think I could hate the Cardinals any more, there it is. One sure-fire way to earn my never-ending ire is to start bringing former Bush cabinet members into that organization. I can't wait until they find work for Condi and Rumsfeld.

Hey, don't forget to sign up for LOHO's annual fantasy league! The Cool Kids league can take maybe 2 more spots, but there are 5 spots left in both Beer Pong (for those who aren't all that serious) and SABR Jerks league (for those who are really serious). Don't force me to combine SABR and Beer Pong into one league, people. It won't be pretty and I won't be held responsible for the outcome.

We are 48 hours from the start of Spring Training! Let's huddle together, hold hands, and hope for the best!  

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28 Comments

AndCounting said:

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This amount of honest-to-goodness baseball news has me pretty pumped up. I know nothing has actually happened, but it's about to happen. I bought tickets. Pitchers are about to start pitching. Catchers are about to start catching. Ari's about to start Fleisching. It's all good.

JulieDiCaro said:

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Tee heee. I know. When real baseball actually starts, we're all going to have to be sedated.

FrankS said:

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I suppose that will be when everyone has to cut back on those non-baseball posts. ;-)

Teebob2000 said:

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>>If I have to grab Fontenot off the field in Mesa, tie him up, toss him in the back of my car...

"Kinkyyy!" -- Hedley Lamarr

DustyBaylor said:

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Please tell me you'll do that to Fontenot...please....and take Silva too, if your trunk is big enough..

Carl Heartscubs Gierhan said:

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This might require at the least a cargo van, maybe even a box truck.

plamorte said:

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We could always pay a semi driver to haul Silva away for us

JulieDiCaro said:

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Where is everyone? Off watching Curling?

That's where I'm headed.. . .

plamorte said:

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working...I need some help though. I have Sirius in the office but not everyone is going to let me put on the Cubs games all season long, so how do I listen to Pat and Ron? I don't have a radio by my desk and I don't want to PAY money to listen online...since WGN can't stream Cubs game due to MLB regulations...ideas?

AndCounting said:

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The paying to listen online is pretty cheap. $10 for the year, I think? I finally caved and did it last year. I was glad I did.

plamorte said:

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If that's true then I'm in, I thought it was much more

JulieDiCaro said:

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nope. it's like $14.99 for the whole year.

plamorte said:

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still doable (thats what she said) anyone have a link though? all i see on mlb.com is the MLB.TV signup

berselius said:

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huh, that's weird. I was going to sign up soon myself

berselius said:

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According to their support forum, signups for Gameday Audio are supposed to start 'before the regular season'. mlb.com customer service strikes again!

I bought the mlb.tv package from them last year on the promise that they would implement audio sync with the radio feed (so I could get Pat + Ron synced up with the video). They never delivered it, all fucking year. Jerks. I'm probably just going to get audio this year.

Ed Nickow said:

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Only video
Is subject to blackout rules
Not audio feeds

gravedigger said:

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yeah, first day back after more than a week off, work kind of piled up.

Doc said:

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What have I done that everyone must treat me like absolute shit today? Is it some kind of conspiracy?

Ugh, people!!!!

plamorte said:

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are you wearing a Cubs shirt?

Doc said:

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no. that's what is so strange.

Dmband said:

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So I was just presented with an interesting offer to consider:

I have the opportunity to purchase two seats to 21 games, 1 game from any series of my choice,no exceptions, for $2400.

Thats a lot of money that I dont have..but its tempting...

My question is this, that averages to about $60 a ticket...if I pick all of the "premium" games (i.e. White Sox, Cardinals, weekends, etc.)I could probably sell them for more than that if needed, right?

Doc said:

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As a season ticket holder, and someone who has done the "selling" of extra tickets in the past, I caution you to be careful if you intend to make up money by selling your tickets.

More than likely, you will end up wanting to attend the games that you would be able to make the most money on. The games are are more likely not to go to, if you attempt to sell the tickets, you may, in the end take a bit of a lose on them or be unable to unload them at all.

Early season tickets don't sell well up until mid-May. And if the team doesn't play well, which is a distinct possibility this year, September games will not sell either.

I have actually found a good balance over the years with attending only a couple really good games and then going to some less desirable games and making up the balance.

It takes a few years to really get good at understanding how to sell tickets.... some games will be important to try to sell early as early as possible while leaving other tickets off the market until just a week or so before the game.

And just for your information, while the White Sox games tend to sell out early via Cubs.com and at the ticket window, they tend not to sell very well second hand. Not sure why...but they just don't sell well. Cardinals games, on the other hand, sell very very well. I haven't been to a Cardinals game in 7 years. :)

But if you have the financial resources to do it, get the tickets. You'll have a blast!

AZ dude said:

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I really enjoy your blog, I've read before but never commented.

"yesterday, a guy watching Spring Training in Mesa tweeted that Z hit a 400-foot HR to straightaway CF yesterday."

I get your point and sarcasm on Z-hitting the HR...but that "guy" who tweeted was me and the tweet was: "Big Z crushed one over the 30 ft high batters eye to dead center in bp, wall is 400 ft. Photos later on my blog".

A 400 ft HR in BP is nothing special even for Z but clearing the 30 foot high fence at 400 makes his blast closer to 500 feet which is something to see anytime...not a lot of humans can hit a baseball that far.

If you're not aware my website is Boys of Spring; I try to cover things that the Bruce's (Miles and Levine) don't cover and offer photos of our Cubs you won't see anywhere else...stop by and check it out. If you don't like it, I'll give you your money back. Tim

JulieDiCaro said:

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Honestly, I wasn't being sarcastic. I love it when Z hits dingers.

Sorry for not crediting your Twitter handle on this one. I did yesterday (I'm following you :) )

AZ dude said:

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See that's what happens when I read sporadically, missed the mention yesterday...then again, you can't go wrong being "a guy watching (Cubs) Spring Training in Mesa".

I thought you were meaning; we want to see Z working more on his pitching than hitting.

No worries on the crediting, I'm following you now on twitter!

AZ dude said:

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Oops, meant "I" can't go wrong being "a guy watching (Cubs) Spring Training in Mesa".

Certainly "you" could go wrong being a "a guy watching (Cubs) Spring Training in Mesa"...I think it's best I stop writing now.

Edelweiss said:

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I'll bet it is warmer here in Vancouver than it is in Mesa. The snow is a mess, but, on a happy note, I learned to snowboard at age 65, due to some courses being closed. The loose snowboard suits hide my short, dumpy figure much better than the ski racing suits would. So, while Carl is getting sunburned, and Julie is fanticizing about Mike Fontenot, I am actually enjoying myself. Oh, and we had Mardi Gras in Vancouver.

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