Tony Campana, TV analyst and third base are among the topics in this week's Cubs Inbox. Got a question? Send it to CubsInbox@gmail.com and please include your full name and hometown.
The Cubs are looking for an outfielder. What's wrong with giving Tony Campana a chance to play full time? He's fast, covers center field very good and could be a heck of a leadoff hitter. He can get on base, steal bases and that gives the team a chance to manufacture runs. Why are Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer so afraid to give these young players a chance?
-- Jeff R., Waterloo, Iowa
In order for Campana to utilize his speed, he has to get on base, and he hasn't shown that he can do that consistently. He's going to work on it this winter and was to begin play this week in Venezuela for Caracas. As for your comment on Epstein, president of baseball operations, and general manager Hoyer not giving young players a chance, you might want to double-check the Cubs' 2012 roster. The Cubs used 20 rookies, the most since 1974, and 11 players made their big league debuts.
Any word on who will be in the TV booth with Len Kasper this year?
-- Peter M., Orland Park, Ill.
Interviews have begun and I was told last week that nothing is imminent. Among the names rumored to be candidates are Dan Plesac, Todd Hollandsworth, Gary Matthews, Eric Karros and Rick Sutcliffe. All played for the Cubs.
When do pitchers and catchers report for 2013 Spring Training?
-- Dalbert S., Charlotte, S.C.
The Cubs haven't officially released that yet. According to Major League Baseball, the voluntary reporting date for pitchers and catchers is Feb. 12. The Cactus League schedule also has not been made public, but I've seen some early schedules with the Cubs beginning games on Feb. 24. The early start is because of the World Baseball Classic in March.
Since we're going after a third baseman, what are the chances of the Cubs picking up Mark DeRosa again? If so, have talks started already?
-- Ray D., Columbus, Ohio
DeRosa, who turns 38 in February, has been limited to fewer than 50 games each of the last three seasons because of injuries. The Cubs are looking for someone a little more durable. Third-base options were the hot topic this week. Jordan D. of Waverly, Iowa, asked about Eric Chavez, who turns 35 in December. Chavez has been slowed by back problems. Before each of the last two seasons, he has considered retirement because of what it takes for him to get ready to play each day. Again, the Cubs want a reliable everyday player. Alex S. of Chicago asked about free-agent Mark Reynolds. Reynolds may provide some pop, but he also strikes out a lot and doesn't appear to fit the type of player the Cubs are looking for.
Do you think the organization still thinks Josh Vitters could be the third baseman of the future or is it really just a false hope at this point? I don't like to put too much stock in a player's first stint in the big leagues, but he didn't look real good.
-- Jaden K., Ukiah, Calif.
If you look at Vitters' career stats, he seems to do better in his second year with a team. For example, he batted .223 at Double-A Tennessee in 2010 and followed that with a .283 season in 2011 with the Smokies. If Vitters, 23, keeps up that pattern, the 2013 season should be much better than 2012, when he hit .121 in 36 games with the Cubs. He has already been told he'll open next year at Triple-A Iowa, where he hit .304 in 110 games.
Who do you think the starting catcher will be next season? Will it be a platoon like it was the end of this year?
-- Dennis H., Mishawaka, Ind.
Welington Castillo appears to have secured the starter's job, and the team was looking for someone with more experience as a backup. Steve Clevenger needs to show more consistency at the plate.
With the acquisition of the Kane County Cougars, what does that mean for the Cubs' Class A team? Do all the Peoria Chiefs move to Kane County or do the Cubs just acquire all the Cougars players?
-- Michelle S., Richmond, Ill.
The players and coaching staff are the property of the host organization, so they don't change affiliations, just location. For example, Javier Baez played for Class A Peoria this year. If Baez was assigned to play for the Cubs' Class A Midwest League team in 2013, he would be at Kane County.
Do you know how Micah Hoffpauir hit in Japan this past year? Do the Cubs retain any rights to him?
-- Steve M., Albuquerque, N.M.
Hoffpauir, 32, who played for the Cubs from 2008-2010, batted .247 in 109 games with 14 home runs, 13 doubles and 37 RBIs, and has reportedly re-signed with the Nippon Ham Fighters for the 2013 season. The Cubs do not retain any rights to him; if Hoffpauir returned to the U.S. to play, he would be a free agent.