What’s up, Cubs fans? Suggested answer: A lot. The world exploded yesterday with two huge stories. Well, at least I think there were two big stories yesterday. The first one, obviously, was the confession of smooth-faced, wrinkly necked slugger Mark McGwire. (See Mark’s earlier post to discuss. Uh, Mark Strickler, that is. Not Mark McGwire.) And the other is the glorious bombshell that Greg Maddux has been hired as the Cubs Assistant GM. (See Joe’s earlier post to discuss.) But these aren’t the only things going on with the team right now. Here are few more stories* we’re following:
Angel Guzman’s brother shot and killed in Venezuela. Sadly, I must begin on a down note. Cubs RHP Angel Guzman, who had his best (that is, healthiest) season in Major League Baseball last year, lost his brother Daniel on Monday in what appears to be an unsuccessful kidnapping attempt. Condolences to Angel and his family.
Ben Sheets rumors gaining some traction. As reported last week, the Cubs are indeed expected to make a run at rehabbing free agent ace Ben Sheets. Could an incentive-laden deal get it done? I hope so. We probably shouldn’t consider Sheets a silver bullet, but if he could take on Rich Harden’s role as the No. 3 or 4 starter in the Cubs rotation and give the team, say, 20 to 25 starts, the results could be excellent. Imagine an eventual rotation of Big Z, Lilly, Dempster, Sheets and Wells. Those five could help the Cubs put and keep the pressure on incumbent division winners, the St. Louis Cardinals.
Oh, and a last parting thought on this: Could new Asst. GM Greg Maddux play a role in Sheets’ signing? I think so. How would you feel if your cell phone rang and a future Hall of Famer was on the line? I’d pretty feel pretty good about joining that organization. And it’s not like Sheets is unfamiliar with pitching at Wrigley or NL Central hitters.
And now presenting your 2010 Iowa Cubs team manager: Ryne Sandberg! Yes, Ryno was introduced to the press this week. This Trib story even features video! Sandberg’s tenure as Iowa’s manager should have huge implications on his future with the big league team.
Spring Training schmoozefest gets all legal and stuff. The two contestants in the Cubs Spring Training Sweepstakes are bringing out the big guns. Both have introduced legislation to raise tax dollars to pay for the facilities they need to win the war. I’m not always crazy about Levine’s baseball analysis or rumor mongering, but he does a pretty good job of concisely summarizing the situation.
LaHair signed to muss up Hoffpauir’s bench role. The Mariners may have helped out the Cubs yet again this off-season when they recently released Bryan LaHair. I’d never heard of him before this story came out, but apparently he’s a left-handed-hitting first baseman with a power stroke who’s spent plenty of time in the minor leagues. Sound familiar? Yep, he’ll be looking to compete for Micah Hoffpauir’s bench spot in spring training.
RHP Casey Coleman has been invited to spring training! And his high school pitching coach couldn’t be prouder. I don’t know much about Coleman but, hey, it’s probably safe to call him a dark horse candidate for the Cubs bullpen.
We won’t have Nate Spears to kick around anymore. In other Cubs minor league news, former farmhand middle infielder Nate Spears is moving on to the Boston Red Sox. Apparently, Jim Hendry didn’t offer Spears a contract, which is odd because Nate is, y’know, a second baseman. Spears will likely be playing for the Red Sox Triple A affiliate in Pawtucket. (I just love typing “Pawtucket.”) Let’s hope he doesn’t pull a Casey McGehee on us.
The new USA Team Report is out! The new USA Team Report is out! Granted, it hasn’t been updated with the Maddux story. But, as usual, there’s a bunch of interesting little blurbs to take in.
*As always, the bolded phrases at the beginning of each paragraph are links to actual news stories. The stories above are not actual; they are figments of your imagination designed only to taunt and deceive. OK, not really.
NOTE: originally this was posted by Dave, not me