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.

Follow ChicagoCubsOnline on Twitter: @TheCCO and @TheCCO_Minors

Quote of the Day

"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." - John F. Kennedy

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  • cubtex

    Very good trade for the Cubs then and now!

    On this date in 2011, the Cubs traded minor leaguer Hak-Ju Lee, Chris Archer, Robinson Chirinos, Sam Fuld ,and Brandon Guyer to the Rays for Matt Garza, Fernando Perez
    and Zac Rosscup. Garza would go on to post a 3.45 ERA with 8.6 K/9 and
    2.8 BB/9 across two years and change (60 starts) for the Cubs. After
    finishing the 2013 season with the Rangers, Garza now finds himself as
    one of the top starting pitchers available on the open market.

    • mutantbeast

      The Garza trade to Texas looks better, especially if either Edwards or Ramirez pan out.

      • CubbyDenCritic

        Edwards, Ramirez and Olt! will all do good……..the Samardzija trade will be even better.

      • Tony_Hall

        Yes sir, Theo and Jed saved us on that one!

    • John_CC

      Why?

  • Ripsnorter1

    “Offensive runs created”

    2013’s top producer: Mike Trout, 69.5 runs created.
    Top Cub producer: Nate Schierholtz, 3.5 runs created.

    (Schierholtz was rated #108 in MLB in 2013).

    If you think that is a negative post, consider Albert Pujols at #111 with 2.5 runs created.

    Welington Castillo was #113 with 1.8 runs created.

    Rizzo, at -1.8 runs created, is #136.

    If the Cubs are to improve, we have to score runs.
    I don’t see an improvement for 2014 due to these factors:

    1. The rotation is weaker without Garza and Feldman.

    2. The offense is worse off without Soriano or a big power bat.

    Positives for 2014:
    The bullpen appears to be better.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=bat&lg=all&qual=400&type=8&season=2013&month=0&season1=2013&ind=0&team=0&rost=0&age=0&filter=&players=0&sort=19%2cd

    • cubtex

      As currently constructed…the offense has question marks all over the place. I am confident that Castro will bounce back. He is the teams best hitter….but if you bat him leadoff, who hits 2nd? who hits 4th? They will have trouble scoring runs again.

      • Eugene Debs

        As currently constructed, the Cubs offense should be boarded up and condemned.

    • cubtex

      Chris Carter from the Astros is ahead of all our players. I didn’t realize he hit 29 bombs last year. He also struck out 212 times

      • Ripsnorter1

        The Astros could very well be a force to reckon with in 2014.

        • CubbyDenCritic

          Are you in Colorado?

          • Denver Mike

            Is that another pot or thin air joke? Original.

    • 07GreyDigger

      I know the offense was bad last year, but you can’t really expect everyone to stay bad. There’s going to be some regressions (Schierholtz comes to mind) and some improvements (Rizzo, Barney, Castro) that should help things. But the stats you chose seem flawed.

      Look at Starlin Castro the past few years for example:

      2010: .300/..347/.407 3 HR 41 RBI -0.8
      2011: .307/.341/..432 10 HR 66 RBI 7.8
      2012: .283/.323/..430 14 HR 78 RBI -1.9
      2013: .245/.284/.347 10 HR 44 RBI -25.7

      *Disclaimer when I say improvements, I don’t mean all star levels, so don’t even start*

      • Ripsnorter1

        I agree on these points:
        1. I would not live or die on offensive runs created. I just posted the Fangraphs link for our consideration.

        2. There will be regressions and improvements. Who does what can be debated.

        3. Starlin Castro at a -1.9 in 2012 is ridiculous. For sure!

      • Ripsnorter1

        Rizzo: he’s a wait and see project to me. For example, Ike Davis. Do you like him? If I were a Met fan, I would hate him. Look at his constant constant, which is, further regression every year:

        2010–.264 BA, 19 HR, .351 OBP, .440 slug
        2011–injury shortened year: .302 BA
        2012–.227 BA, .308 OBP, .462 slug, 32 HR
        2013–.205BA, .326 OBP, .334 slug, 9 HR

        He’s getting worse year by year.

        Will Rizzo follow that example? I dunno.

        • 07GreyDigger

          I have hope for Rizzo. Rizzo walks more and strikeout less. That’s the mark of a hitter that has a good batting eye.

  • RMercer69

    Did anyone see where Jacque Jones got votes for the Hall of Fame yesterday??? Lol, smh

    • CubbyDenCritic

      Who ever voted for him, should be banned in all future voting.

      • 07GreyDigger

        I said that yesterday! Thief!

        • CubbyDenCritic

          If I was Thief, I would be a Jewel Thief on the French Riveria.

        • CubbyDenCritic

          If I as a Thief, I would be a Jewel Thief on the French Riveria.

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  • CubbyDenCritic

    Lee Smith HOF entry is slipping……….especially when Hoffman & Riveria election coming up……..never thought Smith as a HOF anyway…..Harry would just go nuts when Smith blew games for the Cubs……and five out of the eight years Smith pitched for the Cubs, his ERA was over 3.00 as their Closer……..that is NOT HOF material.

    • jtrain23

      Good point on Lee Smith. He is losing seem. I feel a little clarification is needed though. Mariano Rivera is the baseball player. The French Riviera is a place. I’m not sure what a Riveria is.

      • Denver Mike

        It’s a Buick made from 1963-1999. I’m not a huge fan, but I suppose someone could perform thievery at various Jewel’s around Chicagoland in a Riviera.

        • jtrain23

          No. I know the car. The older ones are kind of cool, although they are sort of land yachts. I’m just trying to figure out what a Riveria is.
          I am digging the thievery idea. You could probably do pretty well at all the Jewel’s stores. Although with a sweet ride like that, you would think one would be doing well enough to not need to resort to theft, lol.

  • CubbyDenCritic

    Lets put the Pirates in the Samardzija trade rumors now…….AJ Burnett is leaning to retirement………as some of you might remember, the Yankees offer Burnett to the Cubs several years ago for Soriano.

    • Ripsnorter1

      The Pirates just signed Edinson Volquez.
      No need for Samardzija now….