With James Shields agreeing to terms with the Padres on a four-year deal, a little look to the future seemed appropriate for a Monday.
Until last year, the face of the Cubs was President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein. As Anthony Rizzo started turning his season around and after the little fracas in Cincinnati, the Cubs became Rizzo’s team even with Starlin Castro in the middle of a bounce back season of his own. Rizzo grabbed hold even tighter when he said at the end of the year the Cubs would win the division in 2015.
Things have changed this off-season and the Cubs are focused on winning at the big league level. And the addition of Joe Maddon gave the media and fan base a strong manager to focus on so the players can go about their business and produce on the field.
Richard Justice recently posted a report about five prospects he thinks are poised to become the face of their franchises. And for the Cubs, Justice sees Kris Bryant becoming the face of the organization.
Justice explained, “Bryant symbolizes the tremendous work Cubs President of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein has done throughout the organization.” With all of the Cubs talent “they might just be baseball’s most interesting team the next couple of seasons.” Justice correctly pointed out that good teams are not about one player, but he thinks “Bryant might just be the one who anchors the roster.”
So, is Kris Bryant poised to be the next face of the Cubs as Justice suggested? Or is the mainstream media just piling more on a player that hasn’t swung a bat in the majors? Or on the player side, will the Cubs remain Anthony Rizzo’s team while Joe Maddon takes the focus and the pressure off the players?
Peter Gammons posted a report about Dexter Fowler that received the outfielder’s stamp of approval. Fowler “wants to be a person, a father and a baseball player” that “treats everybody just the way you want them to treat you” as the old Buddy Guy song says.
Dexter Fowler hit a turning point in his career and after talking to former Cubs’ outfielder and Rockies’ coach Glenallen Hill, he reached out to Barry Bonds according to Gammons the same way Matt Holliday “and others had sought out Mark McGwire.”
Fowler and Bonds have a teacher/pupil relationship and Fowler explained Bonds’ training program “was to get the strength to get the right hitting position for every pitch.” Gammons said Ted Williams and Barry Bonds have the same approach to hitting.
Fowler worked with Bonds for the second off-season this winter and he even moved his family to San Francisco to be close to Bonds.
Dexter Fowler was accepted to Harvard and could have very interesting conversations with Joe Maddon according to Gammons. The front office also impressed Fowler after they acquired him from Houston. Fowler said that Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer really know how to relate to people, especially players.
While a majority of the weekend was focused on James Shields, there was other Cubs news and both Joe Maddon and Chris Bosio gave very informative interviews on MLB Network Radio and The Score. The weekend kicked off with the Cubs inviting 19 non-roster players to camp.
If you missed any of the non-James Shields news and rumors, click on the links below …
- Baseball America’s Top 31 Cubs Prospects for 2015
- The Daily CCO: Cubs Expecting Resolution and Vindication Soon on Tampering Charges
- Kris Bryant, Addison Russell among 19 Players Receiving Non-Roster Invites to Cubs Spring Training
- The Week that Was in Cubs Headlines
- Joe Maddon Talks Cubs and Defensive Shifts on MLB Network Radio
- The Daily CCO: Anthony Rizzo Gives Back, Josh Vitters Moves On and Other Cubs News and Notes
- Chris Bosio Talks Cubs Pitching on Inside the Clubhouse
- The Daily CCO: Cubs Still Working on a Few Thinks as the Off-Season Comes to an End?
News, Notes and Rumors
Jason Hammel joined Twitter and can be followed at @HammelTime39.
According to a report from Nick Cafardo, there was a vote at November’s GM Meetings about eliminating defensive shifts. “Approximately 4-6” general managers voted against shifts and would like to see them removed from the game. Scott Boras “is against defensive shifting, and is agreement with Commissioner Rob Manfred in having discussions about eliminating it.” Boras said there are a “number of reasons” to eliminate shifting, “among them left-handed pull hitter not being rewarded for hitting the ball hard and where it’s pitched.” Boras thinks shifting might have an effect on amateur players down the road and will lead to more strikeouts.”
Baseball Prospectus ran a report last month on the best and worst mechanics in the NL Central and Travis Wood landed on its list. According to Baseball Prospectus, Wood’s torque is the worst in the NL Central. “Wood as hips and shoulders that appear wired together, given that they fire in near-unison right on top of foot strike. Late hip rotation combines with early trunk rotation. Most of the separation that Wood finds is achieved with a scapular load, allowing him to get a small dose of separation with incorporating any of the rotational elements that make large torque possible.” Click here for full report.
According to Tyler Kepner, as baseball games drag on, timelessness becomes less than sacred.
Jason Alspaugh (@WrigleyRenovate) talked to the New York Times about the Wrigley Field Expansion and Restoration Project, or The 1060 Project. And construction workers have their bags checked before leaving the property to make sure nothing is being lifted from the landmark.
The Cardinals are the favorite to win the division and continue its dominance in the National League that has lasted this time for 15 years. But is won’t be as easy as it has been for the Redbirds this season according to Bernie Miklasz.
Dusty Baker is keeping busy and hoping for a return to baseball according to a report from Terence Moore.
And last, but not least, David Kaplan is not moving to 670 The Score. Kaplan signed a contract extension and is staying with WGN according to a report from Robert Feder.
This Day In Cubstory
2005 – Cubs traded Kyle Farnsworth to the Tigers for Bo Flowers, Scott Moore and Roberto Novoa
1984 – Dioner Navarro, born
1967 – Todd Pratt, born
1967 – Cubs signed free agent Felix Mantilla
1951 – Eddie Solomon, born
1916 – Freddy Schmidt, born
1898 – Chink Taylor, born
1887 – Heinie Zimmerman, born