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Cubs spring training preview: Pitchers, catchers and Theo Epstein

CHICAGO IL - OCTOBER 25:  Theo Epstenew President Baseball Operations for Chicago Cubs poses outfield following press conference Wrigley

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 25: Theo Epstein, the new President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs, poses in the outfield following a press conference at Wrigley Field on October 25, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) R:\Merlin\Getty_Photos\130254507.jpg

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GOODBYE

Manager Mike Quade

Pitching coach Mark Riggins

Third-base coach Ivan DeJesus

First-base coach Bob Dernier

RHP Carlos Zambrano (traded to Miami)

3B Aramis Ramirez
(to Milwaukee as free agent)

1B Carlos Pena (to Tampa Bay as free agent)

LHP Sean Marshall
(traded to Cincinnati)

RHP Andrew Cashner (traded to San Diego)

OF Tyler Colvin
(traded to Colorado)

IF D.J. LeMahieu (traded to Colorado)

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Updated: March 18, 2012 8:21AM



Cubs pitchers and catchers report to spring training in Mesa, Ariz., on Saturday, with first workouts scheduled for Sunday — or, as the Theomaniacs call it, the first two days of that new century Cubs fans have long thirsted for. For all the hoopla surrounding rock-star boss Theo Epstein and his Clark Street Band, nobody expects to see much this year from what’s left of last year’s 91-game loser, but everybody, it seems, is watching.

STAR-CROSSED

The only bankable star the team carries over from 2011 had his face wiped off the team’s planned marketing blitz by a sexual-assault allegation over the winter that remained unresolved this week. Whether shortstop Starlin Castro — whose representatives vehemently deny any wrongdoing — even winds up being charged, he’ll face questions about it for the first time since the allegations. If nothing else, it’s a cloud following the league’s reigning hit king.

THE NEXT BIG THINGS

Unless you’re a big fan of No. 4 and 5 starter battles, the most compelling story lines of the spring figure to involve top prospects such as Brett Jackson, whose big-league potential is exceeded only by his big-league swagger, and Anthony Rizzo, the grounded, power-hitting clubhouse-leader-in-the-making. Not to mention the specter of Cuban defector Jorge Soler possibly ­being signed as a free agent in time for a spring appearance.

LINSANITY, CUBS VERSION

The Cub with the most to gain this spring is 29-year-old career minor-leaguer Bryan LaHair, the slugging first baseman who opens camp with the sudden opportunity of his career — a starting job that’s his to lose. And he’d better be ready to run with it because recently acquired front-office favorite Anthony Rizzo could be one LaHair stumble from snatching it away.

DECISIONS? WHAT DECISIONS?

For all the changes with the roster since last season, the Cubs don’t have many big position battles in camp, with most of the starting position lineup set (except for maybe second base or a platoon outfield spot), along with the top three spots in the rotation and the back end of the bullpen.

CUBS’ MONEYBALL

$107 million : Projected 25-man Opening Day payroll, the lowest in five years ($99.7 million in 2007).

14.3: Estimated percentage of 2012 payroll going to Miami Marlins as cash portion of Carlos Zambrano-Chris Volstad trade.

2: Players making at least $10 million this season (Alfonso Soriano, Ryan Dempster).

6: Players on last year’s opening roster making at least $10 million in ’11.

HELLO

Manager Dale Sveum
(from Milwaukee)

Pitching coach Chris Bosio (Milwaukee)

Bench coach Jamie Quirk (Houston)

First-base coach Dave McKay (St. Louis)

RF David DeJesus (free agent)

3B Ian Stewart
(Colorado/trade)

LHP Paul Maholm
(free agent)

RHP Chris Volstad
(Miami/trade)

LHP Travis Wood
(Cincinnati/trade)

LHP Trever Miller (free agent)

1B Anthony Rizzo
(San Diego/trade)

GOODBYE

Manager Mike Quade

Pitching coach Mark Riggins

Third-base coach Ivan DeJesus

First-base coach Bob Dernier

RHP Carlos Zambrano (traded to Miami)

3B Aramis Ramirez
(to Milwaukee as free agent)

1B Carlos Pena (to Tampa Bay as free agent)

LHP Sean Marshall
(traded to Cincinnati)

RHP Andrew Cashner (traded to San Diego)

OF Tyler Colvin
(traded to Colorado)

IF D.J. LeMahieu (traded to Colorado)



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