Countdown to Pitchers and Catchers: 7 Days
The pitchers and catchers that are not already in camp have to be in Mesa one week from today. Players continued getting their work in Thursday preparing for the official start of Spring Training. Baseball’s second season is almost over. The Cubs first on-field workout is next Saturday.
Steve Mikkelson, the director of Atlantis Casino’s sportsbook, posted his win-totals for all 30 Major League teams on Thursday. This is the 10th straight year Mikkelson has been first in posting season win totals on the market according to ESPN.
Mikkelson said he likes the Cubs, but not has much as the Giants. Mikkelson set the over-under for Cubs victories this season at 89, the second highest win-total in baseball behind only the Giants (90). Mikkelson thinks the Giants “top-to-bottom have the least amount of question marks” while the Cubs “are very good, but they have these youngsters.”
The Giants (90), Cubs (89), Mets (88), Cardinals (87.5), Royals (87), Dodgers (87), Pirates (87), Blue Jays (87), Nationals (87) and Rangers (86) make up Mikkelson’s top 10 while the Brewers (71.5), Reds (71), Rockies (68.5), Phillies (66.5) and Braves (65) have the five lowest win totals on his list.
FanGraphs’ projections have the Cubs posting a 94-68 record, ahead of the Dodgers (91-71), Nationals (88-74), Giants (85-77), Mets (85-77), Pirates (84-78) and Cardinals (84-78) in the National League.
Wrigley Field McDonald’s
Chances are if you’ve been to a game at Wrigley Field, you’ve stopped at least once at the McDonald’s across the street from the old ballyard. As of March 1, that will no longer be an option.
According to a report from DNA Info Chicago, the McDonald’s will close on March 1 to make way for the construction of the boutique hotel. Employees have been told their last day will be Feb. 29.
McDonald’s is supposed re-open when the construction is completed with a location in the bottom floor. Wrigleyville neighbors have been given a 20-month timeframe for the construction of the L-shaped hotel building.
Ariel Cheung reported the Cubs Store just south of McDonald’s across from Wrigley is also closing.
The Ricketts family purchased the McDonald’s property for $20 million in 2011.
Tommy Hunter didn’t exactly perform to expectations after the Cubs acquired him from the Orioles at the deadline. Hunter was sensational in his Cubs’ debut but otherwise struggled the rest of his time with the team.
Hunter is a free agent and still available.
Marc Topkin reported Thursday the Rays interest in Hunter has increased and talks have advanced. Nothing was close as of Thursday. Hunter has been reported as an option for the Rays to fill a void in the backend of their pen created by the Jake McGee trade. Topkin said Hunter is talking to other teams and the Rays are also interested in Ryan Webb.
News, Notes and Rumors
• Mark Gonzales reported young Cubs are already thinking plate discipline for 2016.
• According to multiple reports Thursday, the White Sox were in talks with free agent SS Ian Desmond. The White Sox have been linked to Desmond, and Dexter Fowler. It’s believed if the White Sox were to sign Desmond, Rick Hahn would not forfeit another draft pick to sign Fowler. Jon Heyman and Dan Hayes said Desmond and the Sox were discussing a deal. But according to Bob Nightengale, a White Sox official told him Thursday, “That ship has sailed.”
• The Pirates signed two lefty relievers, Cory Luebke and Eric O’Flaherty, Thursday to minor league deals that include non-roster invites to Spring Training. The Pirates have one of the top left-handed relievers in baseball on their roster in Tony Watson, but Clint Hurdle will need more than one southpaw in his pen this season when he faces the Cardinals and Cubs.
• Joel Sherman reported the save rule has led to dumb decisions, but maybe where teams are putting their money will change some of that.
• The Red Sox are interested in LHP Neal Cotts and LHP Franklin Morales according to Pete Abraham.
• According to Ken Rosenthal, the Dodgers are trying to trade INF/OF Alex Guerrero and have talked to “numerous teams” about him.
• The best fits for Austin Jackson, according to Scott Miller, are the Astros and Rangers.
• Travis Wood reported to school … err, Spring Training on Thursday.
And last, but not least, posted a new poll on the Cubs’ best move of the off-season … don’t forget to vote →
This Day in Cubstory
2014 – Reds claimed Brett Marshall off waivers from the Cubs
2014 – Twins claimed Brooks Raley off waivers from the Cubs
2003 – Federal Judge James Holderman gave the Cubs and the owners of the rooftop buildings a year to settle their dispute. The Cubs believed the seating provided on the roofs across from Wrigley directly competed with the team for ticket sales and the neighborhood in turn had not been sympathetic to the Cubs expansion plans for Wrigley Field.
1966 – Jeff Pico, born
1955 – Gene Krug, born
1949 – Lenny Randle, born
1926 – Joe Garagiola, born
1918 – Monk Dubiel, born
1912 – Cubs traded Peaches Graham to the Phillies for James Ward and Dick Cotter
1901 – Virgil Cheeves, born
1895 – Sweetbread Bailey, born
1885 – Bill Mack, born