Happy New Year!
It’s a New Year and with coming off the season the Cubs had, the expectations for the team are going to be enormous. The Cubs are already being talked about as one of the best teams in all of baseball, at least on paper. The goal is the same this year as it was last season: Win the National League Central Division.
Joe Maddon is going to ask his players to focus on the day at hand, not to try to win 2016. Win the game that day, have fun and enjoy the journey.
Maddon talked about the Cubs embracing the target, the expectations and all of the pressure that will surround the team on a daily basis a couple of weeks back.
“People are really going to be looking at us now,” Maddon said to Comcast SportsNet. “Of course, people are going to be predicting all these grandiose things for us. And that’s great, cool, because that probably means we are pretty good. But then how do you go about achieving those things? That’s why you can’t get caught up in this outcome society. You have to just really focus on today.”
Maddon explained the players should not alter the way they think or prepare, but “once you admit to it, then you kind of disarm it a bit.” Maddon added “to say it’s not true gives it more power.”
“Regardless of how good we are on paper, theory and reality are two different things,” Maddon said to Patrick Mooney. “We’re going to go through bad stretches next year, regardless of these beautiful names. We’re still going to go through problems. How do we react to them? And how do we keep those windows of failure to a minimum? Because it’s going to happen. It happens to everybody every year. So how do you process that? How do you get to the next moment that makes it better?”
According to Sports Illustrated, the Cubs “have every reason to expect to be better in 2016, and there’s only one way to improve on their 2015 performance: snapping the franchise’s 70-year pennant drought.”
The expectations are already piling on this team. Maddon did an excellent job during his first year with the Cubs and he will also have to step up his game in order to navigate his players through the everyday challenges of a baseball season.
Looking Back Before Looking Forward
As is the case when every year comes to an end there is a time for reflection on the year that was and for the Cubs it was a magical summer and a tremendous year.
One of the top 25 baseball stories of the year was contenders coming out of nowhere according to Hardball Talk. The Cubs went from a last place team and finished with the third best record in all of baseball after a 24-game improvement from 2014 to 2015.
Jake Arrieta and the rookies shined throughout the season according to a report from MLB.com. Arrieta completed the best second half of any pitcher in baseball history and helped create an amazing National League Cy Young race.
And the 2015 season will be forever known as the Year of the Rookie. The Cubs had the best first-year player in the National League in Kris Bryant. Jorge Soler, Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell all played major roles in the Cubs winning 97 games and advancing all the way to the National League Championship Series.
The Cubs won a total of 101 games in 2015. And the team is expected to play further into October this year.
- Cubs 2015 Regular Season Highlights – April and May
- Cubs 2015 Regular Season Highlights – June and July
- Cubs 2015 Regular Season Highlights – August and September
- Highlights from the Cubs Clincher
- The Biggest Longballs of 2015 from Twelve Cubs
- Jake Arrieta’s Top Five Games of 2015
- Kris Bryant’s Top Games and Highlights of 2015
- Anthony Rizzo’s Top Games and Highlights of 2015
MLB Network remembered those we lost in the baseball world on the last day of the year.
The Dodgers will pay the $20 million release fee to the Hiroshima Carp on top of his contract.
The length and amount of the contract the two sides have agreed to are unknown at this point. According to Jeff Passan, “details are still being worked out” and he will not be officially signed “for days.” Joel Sherman said the agreement “is complicated, at least five years and loaded with performance bonuses.”
Bob Nightengale reported after the Maeda news hit the wire that the Dodgers remain in trade talks with the Rays and Marlins for pitching. The Dodgers have the depth to trade for a frontline starter to pair with Kershaw now.
A day after signing Scott Kazmir to a three-year contract Andrew Freidman added a right-hander to his rotation that consisted of all lefties (Clayton Kershaw, Scott Kazmir, Alex Wood, Brett Anderson and Hyun-Jin Ryu) for about 24 hours. Maeda is the only healthy right-handed starting pitcher that can be projected in the Dodgers’ Opening Day rotation.
It will be interesting to watch Maeda’s career unfold. Will he turn out to be a No. 2 starter in the Majors or will he have a successful career as a No. 4 or No. 5 in the big leagues?
News, Notes and Rumors
• Gordon Wittenmyer asked if Javier Baez is the next Ben Zobrist.
• The Orioles remain interested in free agent outfielder Denard Span, but only on a one-year contract and not a multi-year deal according to a report from The Score citing Roch Kubatko as its source.
• The Cubs family suffered two losses before the end of the year. Scout Keith Ryman passed away Dec. 27 at the age of 59, click here for a wonderful tribute. Bill Holden, the Cubs fan that walked from Arizona to Wrigley Field to raise money for JDRF, passed away Dec. 29.
This Day in Cubstory
2009 – The Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings played hockey at Wrigley Field in the NHL Winter Classic.
1969 – Roberto Rivera, born
1948 – Randy Bobb, born
1884 – Tom Downey, born
A tip of the cap goes out to all of the Cubs faithful, Tom, Chris and Brian. Thank you for an unforgettable 2015. Here’s to a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year in 2016.