Buster Olney led off his column Monday with a list of the 12 great moves that proved integral for teams last year. And the Cubs signing David Ross to a two-year contract last off-season checked in at No. 9 in Olney’s ranking.
About the addition of David Ross and what he meant for the Cubs, Olney said, “The Red Sox and other teams had interest as well, but the Cubs wooed Ross as they made their case to sign Jon Lester, and Ross, as expected, was really important in providing leadership to a team that had a lot of young players.”
Olney’s five best moves of 2015: Blue Jays trading for Josh Donaldson, Royals signing Kendrys Morales, Jung Ho Kang signing with the Pirates, the Dodgers trading Matt Kemp for Yasmani Grandal and Kansas City inking Ryan Madson.
David Ross said he plans on this year being his final season as a player. Ross will be a manager in the majors one day. The Cubs should retain him and add Ross to the coaching staff once he officially retires.
Some players mean more to their team than his batting average, home run totals or stats that can be read in a box score. David Ross is one of the most respected players in the game. And he played a huge role in the Cubs’ success last year.
- “I went into almost every start the last few years thinking … How the hell am I gonna get these guys out.”
- “There was at least 3-4 times I thought the team plane was gonna crash.”
- “I would count out the days about a month in advance to see if I was gonna pitch in Coors Field.”
- “One of my favorite moments ever was hitting a homer off Chris Carpenter. I took my time running the bases.”
- “I gave up 11 runs in Toronto and got the win one time.”
- “I had to take Imodium most days I pitched to plug myself up.”
- “My only superstition was to make sure I had two glasses of wine the night before I pitched. This ties in with the Imodium.”
- “I gave up so many homer cause I didn’t wanna walk people. That and cause I threw 85 mph meatballs sometimes.”
- “Why the hell did B.J. Upton hit so many homers off me … This probably ties into the last tweet as well. I did much better facing Melvin.”
- “I only hit like 5-7 people on purpose.”
- “My threat to retire didn’t quite work last off-season.”
- “Sometimes when the count was 3-1, I would just throw it down the middle and hope for the best. People pop up in batting practice right.”
- Anthony Rizzo asked, “How mad were you when you had to go cover first base?” Haren replied, “When your first baseman is pushing 300 lbs, you bust your ass over.”
The game is going to miss Dan Haren.
As reported Monday, the Cardinals are installing two new video boards at Busch Stadium. What was not included in Monday’s report was the reason why the Cardinals are putting up new boards … to keep up with the Cubs.
“We’ll be right up there with the best of them now,” said Joe Abernathy, vice president of stadium operations for the Cardinals to MLB.com. “It’s amazing how technology has evolved in 10 short years. Technology has progressed considerably since we put this in back in April 2006.
“But we did get upset actually when the Cubs had a better videoboard than us. Especially with how it ended [in the National League Division Series] and all they’re doing now, we don’t want to be sitting behind the Cubs in anything.”
This is ridiculous. What makes it even worse is that someone with the team actually admitted on the record why the boards are being changed.
The Cardinals and the best fans in baseball are spending far too much time focusing on the Cubs this off-season.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Since Kris Bryant turned 24 years old Monday, Christopher Kamka tweeted a few Bryant facts on his birthday: Bryant was one of two players during the 2015 season to hit multiple Grand Slams and multiple walk-off home runs, the other … Chris Davis. Bryant became the 15th player to hit 20 or more home runs at Wrigley Field in a single season. Bryant was the first player since Billy Williams in 1972 to hit 20 or more home runs and four or more triples at Wrigley in a single season.
• Jon Heyman confirmed that Kenta Maeda’s deal with the Dodgers is for eight years and $25 million with a lot of incentives. Jim Bowden said during his radio show Monday night (MLB Network Radio) that the incentives in Maeda’s contract are staggering, but he did not provide any details. Bowden said once Kenta Maeda passes a physical the deal will be announced and the terms of the contract will be released.
• The paper winners of MLB’s Hot Stove are probably doomed according to Joel Sherman.
• Jon Paul Morosi posted a reminder Monday that nine of the free agents that rejected the $15.8 million qualifying offer remain unsigned.
• The Braves are trying to trade Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. According to a report from Hardball Talk citing Mark Bowman as its source, Atlanta would like to move at least one of the players “with the understanding the team would have to eat a significant portion of the salary.” The Braves will likely have to release both players. Even with paying a majority of what is left on the horrible contracts the Indians signed them to three years ago, it is hard to see a team giving up anything of value for them.
• According to Jon Heyman, Ian Desmond’s camp and the Padres are expected to talk this week “to see if there is anything to talk about.” The discussions between Ian Desmond and the Padres are “very preliminary” at this point.
• The Diamondbacks may be interested in Howie Kendrick, but according to a report from The Score citing Steve Gilbert of MLB.com as its source, the D-Backs will not surrender another draft pick this off-season to sign a free agent. GM Dave Stewart explained after giving up their first round pick to sign Zack Greinke it would be difficult for them to lose their first two picks in June’ Draft.
• The White Sox feel good about where RHP Jacob Turner is after missing last season with the Cubs due to injury. Turner had elbow surgery, not Tommy John, in July that required four months of recovery time. Turner is expected to be ready to compete for a spot in the Sox rotation when Spring Training begins.
• According to Buster Olney, RHP Doug Fister is “said to have offers of one and two years from multiple teams.” Olney did not indicate which teams have shown interest in Fister.
And last, but not least, the Angels officially released C Rafael Lopez. The former Cubs’ catcher cleared waivers and is now a free agent. Lopez did not play a single game in the Angels organization after the July 3 trade.
This Day in Cubstory
2012 – Cubs traded Carlos Zambrano and cash to the Marlins for Chris Volstad
2011 – Yankees selected Brian Schlitter off waivers from the Cubs
2009 – Cubs agreed to terms on a three-year, $30 million contract with free agent OF Milton Bradley
2008 – Cubs traded Angel Pagan to the Mets for Corey Coles and Ryan Meyers
1996 – Cubs signed free agent Dave Magadan
1984 – Cubs signed free agent Richie Hebner
1973 – Ramon Tatis, born
1963 – Jeff Fassero, born
1962 – Danny Jackson, born
1961 – Henry Cotto, born
1957 – Bobby Dernier, born
1898 – Riggs Stephenson, born
1892 – Chuck Wortman, born
1870 – Bill Dahlen, born