There is quite a bit of excitement surrounding the Cubs upcoming season, and some of it will be on display at the end of the week during the sold out convention. Most are predicting a five to ten game improvement in the win column for Joe Maddon’s team.
The Cubs are going to have a young, talented team. But with youth, sometimes there are growing pains.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer added veteran leadership to the roster, one of the goals for the front office when the off-season began, and more changes could and should be made to the roster before Opening Night.
The success of the 2015 Cubs will depend on Anthony Rizzo and Starlin Castro taking their game to the next level while players such as Jorge Soler, Javier Baez, Arismendy Alcantara and eventually Kris Bryant learn how to produce at the plate at the Major League level on a daily basis. And on the pitching side, it will be up to Jon Lester and Jason Hammel to anchor the rotation as Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks look to pick up where they left off last season.
Jim Bowden posted a report on the missing link for every team in the National League and possible solutions to fill each team needs.
For the Cubs, Bowden thinks patience is all that is needed. Bowden said the Cubs “have had a banner off-season” with the additions of Jon Lester, Jason Hammel, Miguel Montero, David Ross and Joe Maddon. The Cubs “have quickly become relevant” and by September the team “should be ready to show Cubs fans why they’ll be legitimate contenders in 2016.”
Joe Maddon recently said, “I know there’s going to be bad moments. I know it’s going to be tough. We’re going to have a bad losing streak and everybody’s going to go like crazy. And that’s cool – that’s what fans are supposed to do. But at the end of the day, if we just keep sticking to the program and believing in what we are doing, we’re going to come out on the other side. And that’s going to be a nice little run there.”
One last report on the Ben Zobrist trade to the Athletics … this one courtesy of Ken Rosenthal.
After providing details on what could have been a blockbuster three-way trade between the Nationals, Rays and Mets, Rosenthal reported the Cubs and Giants were among the other teams that tried to trade for Zobrist. And there were “about a dozen potential deals the Rays pondered for Zobrist” prior to making the trade with the A’s.
Sunday night Ken Rosenthal posted details of a would-be-three-way that would have sent Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar to the Nationals, Ian Desmond to the Mets and two of the Mets top prospects to the Rays.
According to Rosenthal, one of the prospects the Rays were asking for from the Mets was RHP Noah Syndergaard. And the Metropolitans thought the Rays asking price was too steep for one year of Ian Desmond.
Rosenthal explained that the Nationals would have sent Desmond to the Rays for Zobrist and Escobar. Matt Silverman would have turned and traded Desmond to the Mets for two prospects from a list of three players the Mets were believed to have had in the talks.
The Mets also tried to deal directly with the Rays for Zobrist, but Tampa would not back down on their demands for Zobrist.
It’s easy to say a team should trade for a player and the front office made a mistake by not doing so. Having details always helps paint a correct picture and tell the entire story.
Jeff Pentland is back in the majors as a hitting coach. The Yankees hired Pentland to be the team’s new hitting coach, replacing Kevin Long who went to the Mets after the Yankees dismissed him. Pentland will have an assistant, Alan Cockrell. 2015 will mark the first time the Yankees have employed an assistant hitting coach.
Jeff Pentland was the Cubs hitting coach from 1997-2002 and coached the now Yankees skipper Joe Girardi during his second stint with his hometown team.
There was a World Series prediction, Chris Denorfia was officially added to the roster while Mike Kickham was designated for assignment. Chris Valaika is back with the Cubs and was among several minor league signings. The Cubs released details about the upcoming convention and Ben Zobrist ended up in Oakland … but the weekend all started with a little rambling.
Here are the headlines with news, notes, rumors and a couple of transcripts from the weekend:
- Rambling About the Cubs from the Frigid Confines
- The Daily CCO: Sporting News Predicts the Ultimate Success for the Cubs in 2015
- Ben Zobrist Update: Nationals a Near Perfect Fit, Cubs Willing to Pay More?
- Wrigley Field Restoration Update: Rooftop Owners File Separate Lawsuit
- 2015 Cubs Convention Schedule and Attendees
- From the Wire: Cubs Sign OF Chris Denorfia to One-Year Contract, DFA LHP Mike Kickham
- Cubs Re-Sign INF Chris Valaika to a Minor League Contract
- Jason Hammel Talks Cubs on MLB Network Radio
- The Daily CCO: Arizona Not Willing to Pay the Price to Acquire a Catcher and Other Cubs News and Rumors
- Cubs Sign C Taylor Teagarden and RHP Jorge De Leon to Minor League Contracts
- Ben Zobrist Update: Traded to the Oakland A’s
- Kyle Hendricks Discussed the Cubs, the Off-Season and Pitching in the Big Leagues on MLB Network Radio
- The Daily CCO: A Busy Week on Tap for the Cubs
- MLB Still Investigating Tampering Charges Rays Files against the Cubs
News, Notes and Rumors
Former first rounder OF Tyler Colvin signed a minor league contract with the Miami Marlins. Colvin played in 57 games for the World Series Champion Giants last year and batted .223/.268/.381 with 10 doubles, three triples, two home runs and a .650 OPS.
John Perrotto penned an extremely interesting report … Shifts, drug testing contributing to historic dips in hitting.
According to Ken Rosenthal, Dan Haren plans to report to Spring Training with the Marlins.
Chris Crawford took a look at four players that are set for make-or-break years … one of the four, former Cubs reliever RHP Arodys Vizcaino. There is room for the talented Vizcaino in the Braves’ bullpen but there is a lot of risk as well. Questions about if he can handle the workload of being a late-inning, high-leverage reliever with very little pro experience under his belt.
The Marlins would like to add a left-handed hitting outfielder … Nate Schierholtz, Ichiro Suzuki, Andy Dirks and Will Venable are on their list according to Hardball Talk.
A team official told the Detroit News that the Tigers “have to have” Max Scherzer … Scott Boras must be very happy while Dave Dombrowski, well, not so much.
The Indians search for a right-handed outfield bat continues according to the Score … and Jonny Gomes could be an option. The Cubs were heavily linked to Gomes before signing Chris Denorfia to a one-year contract.
Ryan Dempster is looking forward to Friday night at the convention.
This Day In Cubstory
2011 – Cubs signed free agent Reed Johnson
2011 – Cubs signed free agent Luis Montanez
2004 – Cubs signed free agents Scott Chiasson and Gabe Molina
1994 – Cubs signed free agent Mark Lee
1982 – Dontrelle Willis, born
1982 – Cubs selected Alex Madrid in the second round of January’s amateur draft. Madrid did not sign.
1961 – Charlie Grimm and Verlon Walker were named to the Cubs’ College of Coaches.
1961 – Cubs signed free agent Billy Cowen
1947 – Paul Reuschel, born
1915 – Roy Easterwood, born
1876 – George Browne, born