Cubs

Mooney: Byrd-Conte connection bothers Selig

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Mooney: Byrd-Conte connection bothers Selig

Saturday, March 5, 2011
Posted: 6:51 p.m.

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. Marlon Byrd has been upfront about his relationship with Victor Conte, the man behind Barry Bonds and BALCO.

Byrd recently sat down with HBOs Real Sports to explain how he trains with and takes supplements from Conte. The Cubs outfielder also addressed it at length at the beginning of spring training.

The connection bothers Bud Selig, whose legacy as baseballs commissioner is shaped in part by the steroid era.

Weve talked to him, Selig said Saturday at HoHoKam Park. He knows how we feel and its not a situation that makes me very happy.

For Byrd the only player believed to still work with Conte its a non-issue. He trusts Conte and thinks hes the best in the business.

We talked about it in 2009, Byrd said. Its 2011.

Labor peace

In reality, with a collective bargaining agreement set to expire at years end, Selig has bigger problems to worry about. While the NFL works to avoid a lockout, Selig has already met with union leadership and has another session scheduled for next week in Arizona.

Were starting to work quietly and peacefully, Selig said. There used to be a lot of public statements and people banging on each other. While negotiations will be tough and well have difference of opinion, well do it in a constructive manner.

Selig said that Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has met extensively with Major League Baseball about renovating Wrigley Field, but he wouldnt reveal any details about those plans.

The Cubs are also preparing to build a new facility in Mesa that could leave HoHoKam and Fitch parks empty by 2014. Selig does not foresee a team moving from Florida to Arizona for spring training.

While there has been speculation that troubled franchises like Tampa Bay and Oakland could be contracted, Selig said the idea hasnt been discussed yet. Hes optimistic about this round of negotiations.

There was so much anger and so much hostility, Selig said, but those days are gone. Other sports now, in some cases, are feeling what we felt in the 1990s. Its painful.
Cease-fire

The pressure that overwhelmed Carlos Silva hasnt touched Randy Wells, who threw three innings during Saturdays 9-4 win over the San Diego Padres. Wells hasnt allowed an earned run in his first five innings this spring.

You cant really control it, Wells said. Either youre going to make the team, or Ill be at Triple-A I got options left. The way Im looking at it is: Yeah, it would suck to go to Triple-A, but there are worse things. I still got a job.

Seriouslyafter a down year and having to fight for a rotation spot, it puts things in perspective.

The Cubs are trying to do the same with Wednesdays dugout dispute between Silva and Aramis Ramirez.

Thats in the past, Alfonso Soriano said. Nobody talks about it anymore. They are grown men. They talked and they know (they) made mistakes. They go from there. The most important (thing) for everybody here is to start playing better and get ready for the season.

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

Offseason of change begins with Cubs firing pitching coach Chris Bosio

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USA TODAY

Offseason of change begins with Cubs firing pitching coach Chris Bosio

"Of course," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said in the middle of the National League Championship Series — he would like his coaches back in 2018. Pitching coach Chris Bosio told the team's flagship radio station this week that the staff expected to return next year. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein didn't go that far during Friday afternoon's end-of-season news conference at Wrigley Field, but he did say: "Rest assured, Joe will have every coach back that he wants back."

That's Cub: USA Today columnist Bob Nightengale first reported Saturday morning that Bosio had been fired, a source confirming the team declined a club contract option for next year and made a major influence on the Wrigleyville rebuild a free agent. Epstein and Bosio did not immediately respond to text messages and the club has not officially outlined the shape of the 2018 coaching staff.

Those exit meetings on Friday at Wrigley Field are just the beginning of an offseason that could lead to sweeping changes, with the Cubs looking to replace 40 percent of their rotation, identify an established closer (whether or not that's Wade Davis), find another leadoff option and maybe break up their World Series core of hitters to acquire pitching. 

The obvious candidate to replace Bosio is Jim Hickey, Maddon's longtime pitching coach with the Tampa Bay Rays who has Chicago roots and recently parted ways with the small-market franchise that stayed competitive by consistently developing young arms like David Price and Chris Archer.

Of course, Maddon denied that speculation during an NLCS where the Los Angeles Dodgers dominated the Cubs in every phase of the game and the manager's bullpen decisions kept getting second-guessed.

Bosio has a big personality and strong opinions that rocked the boat at times, but he brought instant credibility as an accomplished big-league pitcher who helped implement the team's sophisticated game-planning system.

Originally a Dale Sveum hire for the 2012 season/Epstein regime Year 1 where the Cubs lost 101 games, Bosio helped coach up and market short-term assets like Ryan Dempster, Scott Feldman, Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija. 

Those win-later trades combined with Bosio's expertise led to a 2016 major-league ERA leader (Kyle Hendricks) and a 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner (Jake Arrieta) plus setup guys Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. and All-Star shortstop Addison Russell.

Bosio helped set the foundation for the group that won last year's World Series and has made three consecutive trips to the NLCS. But as the Cubs are going to find out this winter, there is a shelf life to everything, even for those who made their mark during a golden age of baseball on the North Side.

Report: Cubs fire pitching coach Chris Bosio after six seasons with team

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USA TODAY

Report: Cubs fire pitching coach Chris Bosio after six seasons with team

In Theo Epstein's end of season press conference on Friday he said that any coach Joe Maddon wants back will return in 2018.

Evidently, there's one coach Maddon didn't want back.

According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Cubs have fired longtime pitching coach Chris Bosio.

Bosio served as the Cubs pitching coach from 2012-17. He was the team's pitching coach under former managers' Dale Sveum (2012-13) and Rick Renteria (2014), and was retained when Maddon was hired as manager of the Cubs in 2015.

Bosio, who is one of the most respected pitching coaches in baseball, was instrumental in the career resurgence of Jake Arrieta who captured the Cy Young award in 2015, and the development of 27-year-old starter Kyle Hendricks (MLB's ERA leader in 2016).

One reason that could've led to Bosio's firing was the pitching staff's control issues during both the regular season and postseason, which Epstein mentioned during Friday's press conference. The Cubs issued the fifth-most walks (554) in the National League during the regular season and the highest total (53) during the postseason.

As the Cubs hit the market for a new pitching coach, Nightengale mentioned that one name that could be on the radar is former Tampa Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey, who parted ways with the organization following the 2017 season.

Hickey served as Maddon's pitching coach in Tampa Bay from 2006-2014.