It’s only four days into the New Year, a majority of the teams are still working on their rosters, there is a month and a half left before pitchers and catchers report and the predictions for the upcoming season are already being posted.
Theo Epstein, Jed Hoyer and Jason McLeod have built the Cubs for sustained success and the team is in position to make a run at a championship according to Phil Rogers.
Rogers made 10 bold predictions for the New Year and the Cubs were included in his report.
First, Rogers predicted Jason Heyward will win the National League Most Valuable Player award next season. Rogers has the Royals’ Lorenzo Cain taking home the award in the American League. Rogers thinks “with pitching tougher than ever, no one is going to have a season like Bryce Harper did in 2015, that puts the focus on all-around players who win games in the field and at the plate.”
Rogers feels Heyward and Cain “look set for career years at the plate” and Heyward “should thrive in an American League-style offense” with the Cubs.
Rogers predicted the Cubs will end a drought in 2016 but not the big one. Rogers thinks the Royals will make it back to The Series for the third straight year and beat the National League Champs, the Chicago Cubs.
Javier Baez collected another hit Sunday night in Santurce’s 1-0 win over Mayaguez. Baez batted fourth and played second base in the low-scoring game. Santurce managed only five hits.
Javier Baez was 1-for-3 with a strikeout.
Arismendy Alcantara scored the winning run in the ninth inning of Sunday’s game. Licey topped Escogido 2-1 and one-time Cubs’ closer Jose Veras took the loss.
Alcantara pinch ran for Joey Terdoslavich, who walked to start the ninth. Alcantara stole second, moved to third on a sac bunt and scored the game winner when Ozzie Martinez grounded out to second base. Alcantara did not have an at bat in the game.
One of Arismendy Alcantara’s teammates this winter will be in camp with the Cubs next month, Juan Perez. The Cubs signed the former Giants’ outfielder to a minor league contract on Dec. 15 that includes a non-roster invite to Spring Training.
In 14 games for Licey this winter, Perez hit .226/.300/.321 with two doubles and a home run. Perez had 53 at bats, worked six walks and struck out 14 times.
Juan Perez led off and played right field Sunday for Licey and went 0-for-5 at the plate.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Jeimer Candelario had a very good season that carried over to the Arizona Fall League. Candelario told Carrie Muskat that he learned a lot from Miguel Montero during his talks with the Cubs’ catcher while he was rehabbing with the Smokies in August. Candelario will be in big league camp on a full-time basis for the first time when Spring Training begins next month.
• Baseball Reference reported there were 171 home runs hit at Wrigley Field during the 2015 season. Wrigley tied Citizens Bank Park (Phillies) as the big league stadium with the 11th most longballs hit last year. Camden Yards (222), Yankee Stadium (219), Sky Dome (203), Coors Field (202) and Minute Maid Park (198) were the five parks that saw the most home runs in 2015.
• Lindsay Berra asked if Major League Baseball should change official scoring to account for defensive shifts.
• The free-agent position-player market is stagnant because teams are changing their strategy according to Jim Bowden. There are a lot of teams in the National League especially that already appear to be mailing in the 2016 season in order to build their systems for the future.
• The South Bend Cubs ‘Catching Cub’ logo came in second in the SportsLogos.net voting for the best new alternate logo of 2015.
• Baseball America ranked the top 20 prospects that were traded in November and December … the first five: SS Dansby Swanson, LHP Sean Newcomb, RHP Aaron Blair, SS Javier Guerra and 2B Jose Peraza.
• The Mets are 80 percent set in the outfield according to Adam Rubin with Curtis Granderson, Alejandro De Aza, Juan Lagares and Michael Conforto. Rubin is “waiting” for the Mets to sign a fifth outfielder. Right-handed hitting outfielders on the market include Marlon Byrd, Chris Denorfia, Jeff Francoeur, Jonny Gomes, Austin Jackson, Steve Pearce, Ryan Raburn, Drew Stubbs, Rickie Weeks and Delmon Young.
• The Cardinals are installing state-of-the-art video boards at Busch Stadium. And the two new boards are on schedule to be ready by the first home game of the season.
• LHP Cliff Lee would like to pitch in 2016, but according to his agent it will have to be a perfect fit for him. Lee’s agent, Darek Braunecker was on the Front Office (MLB Network Radio) on Sunday morning and he told Jim Duquette and Jon Paul Morosi, “Cliff’s just kind of taking it day-by-day really quite honestly and it’s one of those things where when Cliff informed me he was going to attempt a comeback this year, he instructed me early on to gauge the interest in the market, and from there, bring the information back to him. This is going to have to be a situation where it’s a perfect fit for Cliff. From a competitive standpoint, from a financial standpoint, from an overall opportunistic standpoint. It’s going to have to be the right fit for him to pursue it.” According to The Score, up to 15 teams “have expressed interest” in the veteran southpaw. Lee would like to win a championship and he has been throwing. Lee will “decide whether or not to hold a showcase for interested clubs in the next couple of weeks.”
And last, but not least, the Nationals are still trying to trade RHP Drew Storen.
This Day in Cubstory
2012 – Cubs signed free agent Joe Mather
2008 – The Cubs received approve from the Landmarks Commission to add 70 bullpen box seats and to incorporate additional signage at Wrigley Field.
2005 – Ryne Sandberg was elected to the Hall of Fame. Sandberg received 393 votes after putting up the numbers and passing previous marks for second basemen. During his 16 year career and returning to the team in 1996 after walking away from the game in June of 1994, Sandberg batted .285/.344/.452 with 403 doubles, 76 triples, 282 home runs and a .795 OPS. Sandberg was the NL MVP in 1984 and represented the Cubs in the Mid-Summer Classic each year from 1984-1993.
1999 – Cubs signed free agent Derrick White
1992 – Kris Bryant, born
1976 – Ted Lilly, born
1935 – Cardinals purchased Don Hurst from the Cubs
1918 – Cubs traded Larry Doyle, Art Wilson and $15,000 to the Boston Braves for Lefty Tyler
1914 – Herman Franks, born
1889 – The Spalding Baseball Tourists played their final game in Australia and the Chicagos won 5-0.