Jesse Rogers caught up with Jed Hoyer Sunday before he departed for Mesa and posted the question and answer session with the Cubs’ GM on ESPNChicago.com
Hoyer admitted he’s excited for the upcoming season, especially after the last three springs when at best the roster he and Theo Epstein assembled had a “puncher’s chance” of competing. The talent level on the team has improved and expectations for the season have changed for the front office.
The Cubs do not know how the young players on the roster are going to adjust to Major League pitching. Hoyer said “anyone’s guess is as good as ours” as to how those players are going to perform. The front office is hoping the veterans “perform at or above expectations to help ease what the young players are going to go through.”
Hoyer added the recognition the organization has received is nice but that “ultimately does not mean anything.” The Cubs have to win games while continuing to develop players at the Major League level and in the minors. Hoyer pointed out Joe Maddon is “going to be a big part” of helping the players transition from the minors into productive big leaguers. Maddon was able to create an atmosphere in Tampa that allowed players to succeed. And he will have to do the same with the Cubs.
According to Buster Olney, Jake Arrieta could be the key to the Cubs success in 2015. But if Richard Justice is correct, the key to the Cubs reaching their goal in 2015 might not even be with the team on Opening Night.
Justice compiled a list of players that is the key to each team’s success during the upcoming season. And for the Cubs that player is Kris Bryant or “pick a name.” Justice said “the Cubs are going to have so many talented young guys, it’s impossible to know where to begin. Bryant is at the top of the list.”
Hope Springs Eternal
Buster Olney posted reasons for all 30 teams to have hope for the upcoming season less than three weeks before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training.
For the Cubs, Olney said it would not surprise anyone if Joe Maddon’s team finished the season above .500 and “at least flirted with contention.” Olney thinks Kris Bryant could be up by late April and Wrigley Field will be “the center of the baseball universe on Opening Night.”
News, Notes and Rumors
No update yet on Pedro Strop and the Cubs agreeing to terms on a contract for the upcoming season. The Cubs avoided the arbitration process with six of the team’s seven eligible players. Jon Heyman posted a reminder Monday that arbitration hearings are being scheduled. The date for Strop and the Cubs possible arbitration hearing is unknown.
According to Ben Badler, there were no new developments Monday on the Yoan Moncada front. Major League Baseball has not made any decisions on the new policy and “still telling teams not to sign Cuban players.”
The Yankees are consider the favorite to sign Yoan Moncada and “may go in full like they did a year ago with Masahiro Tanaka” according to Andrew Marchand.
Addison Russell is ready to start a new chapter with the Cubs according to Tony Andracki.
David Schoenfield asked who’s better, the Cubs or the White Sox? And he broke down the two teams position by position. In the end, he thinks the Cubs will post a better record and sees Joe Maddon’s team with around 85 wins and the Sox around .500.
Major League Baseball and the MLBPA announced an education initiative with the United States Government through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) on Monday.
Commissioner Rob Manfred named Frank Robinson Senior Advisor and honorary President of the American League.
Four more minor leaguers received drug suspensions Monday including free agent Wilson Betemit. The former big leaguer was suspended for 50 games without pay for testing positive for amphetamines. The other three suspensions were handed out to INF Ricardo Cubillan (Red Sox, 76 games), RHP Ethan Miller (Giants, 50 games) and 1B Tanner Norton (free agent, 50 games).
The Padres signed veteran backstop Wil Nieves to a minor league contract that includes a non-roster invitation to Spring Training. Nieves will compete for a back-up job on the Padres’ Opening Day roster according to Corey Brock.
And speaking of catchers and possible trading partners for Welington Castillo, the Diamondbacks signed Gerald Laird to a minor league contract. Laird received a non-roster invitation to big league camp and is viewed as insurance incase Rule 5 pick Oscar Hernandez does not make the Opening Day roster.
According to Bruce Levine, Jeff Samardzija is still likely to test the free agent market despite what his agent said Sunday on MLB Network Radio.
Group tickets are now available for the 2015 season at Wrigley Field.
According to Ace of MLB Stats, Jake Arrieta’s 2.26 FIP last season (2014) was the best FIP by a Cubs’ pitcher with at least 150 innings since Grover Cleveland Alexander in 1919.
The Phillies are still talking to at least two teams about Jonathan Papelbon … the Brewers and Blue Jays. John Gibbons said Monday on MLB Network Radio that he knows Alex Anthopoulos has had conversations with Ruben Amaro Jr. about Papelbon and also with the agents for Rafael Soriano and Francisco Rodriguez. According to Jim Salisbury, trading Papelbon is tricky. Not only because of the money he is owed and the attainable option but due to the fact he’s still productive the Phillies are not going to give him away and are looking for a good prospect in return.
This Day In Cubstory
2010 – Cubs signed free agent Kevin Millar
1975 – Billy Herman was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. Herman played for the Cubs from 1931-41 and batted .309/.366/.417 with 346 doubles, 69 triples, 37 home runs and a .782 OPS. Herman ended his 15-year career with the Pirates in 1947 after amassing a .304/.367/.407 line with 486 doubles, 82 triples and 47 home runs for a .774 OPS. Herman was an All-Star from 1934-43 and finished top three in MVP voting in 1936, top four in 1935 and ended up in the top 10 in MVP voting in five separate seasons.
1947 – Joe Coleman, born
1935 – Don Kaiser, born
1916 – Phillies purchased Wilbur Good from the Cubs
1886 – Albert Spalding started a sporting goods company in Chicago for $800.
1880 – Newt Randall, born