Cubs

Mooney: Rothschild picks up 2011 option

282709.jpg

Mooney: Rothschild picks up 2011 option

Monday, Oct. 11, 2010
5:25 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

Like everyone else, Larry Rothschild is waiting to see who will be the Cubs manager next season. But that uncertainty didnt stop the pitching coach from exercising the 2011 option on his contract.

Rothschild had until Monday seven days after the end of the regular season to make that decision, though it doesnt necessarily guarantee that he will return for his 10th season as Cubs pitching coach.

It was the logical, expected move for the Homewood-Flossmoor High School graduate, who has survived several regime changes since coming back home to Chicago.

Some have been interim replacements and others have been managers of the year. But so far Rothschild has worked alongside Don Baylor, Rene Lachemann, Bruce Kimm, Dusty Baker, Lou Piniella, Alan Trammell and Mike Quade.

Rothschild will have to come to an agreement with the next Cubs manager or else explore his options outside the organization. Hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo is signed through 2012 but the rest of the staff doesnt have that kind of security.

Rothschild appears to be a natural fit with Quade, who is the leading candidate of a group that includes Ryne Sandberg, Eric Wedge and Bob Melvin. Quade frequently deflected praise for the teams 24-13 finish toward his pitching coach and bullpen coach Lester Strode.

You guys know how close I am with those two guys and how much respect I have for them, Quade said during the final week of the season. The (players) deserve the credit but those guys spend a lot of hours with them and they do a great job. They miss nothing.

Rothschild also has an ally in Carlos Zambrano, who hes worked with since 2002, when Kerry Wood and Mark Prior combined to make 52 starts. Rothschild could guide the next generation of Cubs pitchers Andrew Cashner, Casey Coleman, Chris Archer and no one is better prepared to try to reach their enigmatic 91.5 million ace.

Hes been outstanding for me, Zambrano said. Hes been my mentor, my teacher, (but) this is a business. And whatever they (want) to do, theres nothing we can do about it.

Any pitching coach will need to maintain a relationship with Zambrano who has a no-trade clause and two guaranteed seasons left on his contract to rediscover the pitcher who went 8-0 with a 1.41 ERA in his last 11 starts.

That coach will also likely lobby management to add another starter to replace the 47 wins and more than 700 innings Ted Lilly accounted for in three-and-a-half seasons until the Cubs traded the veteran left-hander to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Cubs still led the National League with 96 quality starts. That means their starting pitcher went at least six innings and allowed three runs or less almost 60 percent of the time and yet they still finished 75-87 and never rose above .500 at any point all season.

Overall, the pitching staffs 4.18 ERA ranked 13th in the league. The Cubs had finished top-five in that category in each of the previous three seasons.

Rothschild can also point to the development of Sean Marshall (2.65 ERA in 80 appearances) into one of the best setup men in baseball, and the emergence of Carlos Marmol (38 saves) as a dominant closer.

But Rothschild doesnt market himself as a guru and rarely goes out of his way to speak with reporters on the record and get his name in the newspapers.

He just generally enjoys what he does, Randy Wells said. I dont think he needs to have the press or the fans (give) him the credit that he deserves. (He) just kind of sits back, watches the results and takes pride in his staff (for how) they go about their business.

The Cubs rotation could feature Wells and Tom Gorzelanny as the fourth and fifth starters next season. Each turned 28 over the summer and spent part of the 2009 season on the Triple-A level. They have felt their confidence rise and fall.

In between starts, Rothschild runs the meetings that review the mechanics and psychology of pitching. Within the next two weeks, Rothschild will likely have a similar conversation with the Cubs manager, articulating his philosophy and figuring out what adjustments need to be made.

He understands everybody, Wells said. He gives you that mutual respect. Theres no his-way-or-the-highway-type thing. Its: Lets find out what works and lets exploit it. He watches film and studies scouting reports and comes up with a game plan. Its up to us to execute it.

But when things arent going right hes the first one there to help. (He) never point fingers. Its always: Lets find a solution.

Patrick Mooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. Follow Patrick on Twitter @CSNMooney for up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Cubs camp observations: Wrigley's home-field advantage without fans

Cubs camp observations: Wrigley's home-field advantage without fans

Four days into the Cubs’ training camp restart, we’ve only begun to get acquainted with the new normal of baseball rhythms and routines that we can only hope will result in a 2020 season of 60 games.

If the league can fix some of its early testing issues and keep enough players on enough teams healthy enough to start the season, what might come into play for the Cubs and the actual baseball.

Early observations after about a dozen Zoom sessions with team personnel and two intrasquad scrimmages:

NUTS: Home cooked?

The Cubs, who draw so reliably in one of the unique ballparks in the majors, might have more to lose than most teams without fans allowed to attend games when the season starts July 24.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Cubs news and analysis.

Just how much of the Confines’ home-field advantage is lost will be a matter of “wait-and-see,” manager David Ross said.

“There’s always an advantage to playing in your own park,” he said Sunday. “You feel more comfortable you woke up in your own bed. You’re not staying in a hotel room, which especially now, where you feel like outside spaces just aren’t comfortable as they used to be, probably [gives] a slight advantage in your city.

“There’s no substitute for fans,” he added. “There’s probably a slight advantage, but I don’t know if it’s as great as it used to be.”

What Ross didn’t mention were the rooftops across Waveland and Sheffield, which are planning to operate at 25-percent capacity when games start, suggesting at least a few hundred fans within cheering and booing distance.

“You’re going to hear them loud and clear, too,” pitcher Tyler Chatwood said. “I promise you that.”

BOLTS: Taking the fifth

All you need to know about Alec Mills’ ability to adjust and immediately step into an important role is what he did in an emergency start against the first-place Cardinals at Wrigley last year with the Cubs a half-game out and barely a week left in the season.

He hadn’t started anywhere in a month — and that was in the minors. But the guy who pitched out of the bullpen just three times in the four intervening weeks, pitched two outs deep into the fifth inning that day and didn’t allow a run (the bullpen took care of that, in a loss).

No wonder when Ross talks about Mills replacing the injured Jose Quintana (thumb) in the rotation, he says, “I’ve got a ton of confidence.”

He’s not the only one. “I’ve always had the mindset of doing whatever I can to stay ready and help in any way,” said Mills after pitching a strong three innings in a simulated game Sunday. “Obviously, with an unfortunate injury like this, I think it’s just even more heightened.

“I’m ready to do whatever, whether it needs to be maybe a start here or there, a couple more starts, long guy out of the pen — just whatever I need to do I pride myself on being ready to do that.”

CHATTER: The mask at hand

“It’s a little different. You leave the house with a phone, your keys, your wallet and your mask.”

—Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo on his and his teammates’ new daily normal.

“Everybody is thinking about it, but we try to get here and understand this is our safe zone and we’re trying to create that [within] the things that we’re going to do on and off the field.”

—Ross on players weighing the risk of playing during the pandemic against the safety precautions and protocols the team has built in and around its Wrigley Field bubble.

SUBSCRIBE TO THE CUBS TALK PODCAST FOR FREE.

2020 Cubs schedule features six games against White Sox: 'It’s exciting, right?'

2020 Cubs schedule features six games against White Sox: 'It’s exciting, right?'

Imagine it’s late September. The Cubs have already hosted the White Sox for three unforgettable games at Wrigley Field — fans packed the rooftops (at 25 percent capacity) around the ballpark. Now, it’s time to head to the South Side for the final series of the season, rife with playoff implications.

If the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t derail the 2020 MLB season, that scene very well could become a reality.

The Cubs regular season schedule, which MLB released Monday, features six Crosstown Classic games. The first of two series between the Chicago teams runs Aug. 21-23 at Wrigley Field. The second is penciled in for Sept. 25-27 at Guaranteed Rate Field. Both three-game series include Friday and Saturday evening games, and end with a Sunday afternoon game.

The Crosstown rivalry consumes 1/10 of the Cubs schedule this shortened season.

“It’s exciting, right?” Cubs manager David Ross said.

And quite convenient. That’s the point of a regionally-based schedule, which has the Cubs facing only NL Central and AL Central teams. While trying to limit the spread of COVID-19, that convenience becomes especially important.

“We get to sleep in our own beds at night,” Ross said of the Crosstown Classic. “We can set up things where if we need to we can work out here and drive over like you would in an Arizona spring training. There’s a lot of options that we have for us that we can do with an in-town team. I feel like that’s definitely a luxury.”

Some of those same advantages apply to the Cubs’ games at Milwaukee as well. As is the case with all their division rivals, the Cubs are scheduled to play the Brewers 10 times, including opening day at Wrigley Field on July 24.

As for their mid-September series at Milwaukee: “Players have the ability to drive up day of the game, drive back afterwards or get a car back,” Ross said. “There’s a lot of freedom and comfort in sleeping in your own bed, especially in the scenarios we’re in this year.”

The Cubs’ setup with the White Sox is mirrored over in Missouri between the Cardinals and Royals; they will also play each other six times. The Cubs will play three or four games against each of the four other teams in the AL Central. The White Sox are expected to be a stauncher opponent than the Royals, automatically giving the Cubs a tougher route through their interleague schedule.

But that’s a small price to pay for six rivalry games in Chicago.