Is Improvement in the Cards for the Cubs in 2014? And Other News and Rumors

Baseball’s Hall of Fame received three new members on Wednesday after the BBWAA voted in Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas. The three players will join managers Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony LaRussa in Cooperstown this July in what should be a memorable induction ceremony.

The Hall of Fame said the announcement will be made next week on which hat Greg Maddux will wear into the Hall. For as much as Maddux will be remembered as a Cub, he will go into the Hall as an Atlanta Brave. Greg Maddux joined Dennis Eckersley, Ryne Sandberg, Bruce Sutter, Rich Gossage, Andre Dawson, Ron Santo, Deacon White and Tony LaRussa as former Cubs that have been elected to the Hall of Fame since 2004.

Before the debate began about the Hall of Fame, Jonah Keri posted a report on the five teams he thinks are poised to bounce back after disappointing 2013 seasons. And at the top of his list … the Chicago Cubs.

Jonah Keri pointed to Starlin Castro, Anthony Rizzo, Darwin Barney and Jeff Samardzija as the reasons why the Cubs will win more games in 2014 than a year ago (66-96). Plus Edwin Jackson should not be the second-unluckiest pitcher again and an improved bullpen should lead to more victories.

Starlin Castro “should return to his previous offensive norms in 2014” after a disastrous season and he should show last year “was a massive aberration.” Anthony Rizzo “figures to put up significantly betters numbers” and should benefit from “normal development for a player who’ll be entering just his second full big league season.” Keri added Darwin Barney should not hit “like a pitcher again.” And Jeff Samardzija’s FIP points out “his luck should improve this year.”

With that said, Keri does not expect the Cubs to compete for the top spot in the NL Central but he thinks the Cubs could easily win 10 more games in 2014 than a year ago.

The Angels, Nationals, Blue Jays and Brewers are the other four teams primed for positive regression in 2014.

Masahiro Tanaka

Masahiro Tanaka arrived in the States on Wednesday and is expected to begin his tour of Major League cities and teams with his U.S. agent, Casey Close. The list of teams reportedly interested in Tanaka has increased in the last two days. The Oakland A’s are also in the mix and have joined the Cubs, Yankees, Dodgers, Angels, Diamondbacks, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Tigers, White Sox, Twins, Mariners and Giants as organizations that have been connected to Masahiro Tanaka.

Paul Sullivan confirmed Tanaka arrived in Los Angeles on Wednesday but when asked, the Cubs would not comment about a possible meeting with him.

Dylan Hernandez reported the Dodgers have spoken to Casey Close about Tanaka. Ned Colletti indicated that Tanaka is “in the feeling out process” at this point. And while the Dodgers are being cautious with what they say in regards to Tanaka, Kevin Towers gave Steve Gilbert a full update.

According to a report from Steve Gilbert, Towers said Casey Close “has done a nice job” to keep the Diamondbacks, and all of the teams, “informed on the timing, the schedules and how things are going to work.” Towers added that Close has “pretty much asked those clubs that are involved that just less is better and not to really say anything or divulge the process or what’s happening.” Towers said, “We’re all up to speed with what’s to take place and how it will take place, just really not in the position to share any of it.”

Masahiro Tanaka is expected to meet with the Cubs, and White Sox, in Chicago this week.

It sounds like once Masahiro Tanaka completes his tour, those teams that remain interested and the ones he has interest in signing with will spend the last seven to ten days trying to hammer out a contract. The deadline to sign Masahiro Tanaka is Friday, Jan, 24 at 4:00pm CST.

News and Notes

Cubs Park is among the issues of note for Mesa in 2014 according to the East Valley Tribune.

Theo Epstein sold his home in Boston for a nice profit according to the Boston Business Journal.

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Quote of the Day

"People who write about Spring Training not being necessary have never tried to throw a baseball." – Sandy Koufax