G’mornin’, Cubs fans. (Well, it’s morning while I’m writing this at least.) I’m not going to say it’s a slow news day, because that got me in a lot of trouble on Tuesday. Let’s just say the baseball world is simmering at the moment, getting ready to begin a gentle, slow boil when pitchers and catchers report in just a couple short weeks. Let’s see what’s going on in the world of the Chicago Cubs*:
Andre Dawson’s cap is such a diva. After a lull of some weeks, the controversy over which cap The Hawk will wear into the Hall rose again this week as the powers-that-be proclaimed that Andre shall wear an Expos cap during his induction (and on his plaque). Problem is, Dawson has left little doubt that he wants to go in as a Cub. I’m not sure how seriously to take this story. On the one hand, I think the Hall has a pretty solid case – The Hawk played longer in Montreal and it was there that, statistically at least, he really laid the foundation for his soon-to-be immortalized career. Then again, his glorious years as a Cub did likely push him over the top and, clearly, Andre’s heart still lies in Chi-Town. Maybe he should wear two caps to the Hall of Fame induction ceremony – an Expos cap facing forward and a Cubs hat facing backward. When he gets to talking about the Cubs in his acceptance speech, he can just turn the two caps around with a knowing wink. There – everybody happy? Good, let’s move on.
The Schmoozefest is OVAH! Sorry for the blatant Hawkism, folks. I swear I mean it in only the most bitterly sarcastic way. In any case, if by any chance you didn’t hear the news yesterday, Mesa is now officially the Cubs spring training home for another 25 years. My condolences to the Naplese (Naple-ites?). Expect the team to move into a brand-new stadium in 2013.
Cubs just can’t get no relief – but they will, probably. Now that the fourth outfielder mystery has been solved two times over (Nady and Tracy? Way to go, Jimbo!), Jim Hendry is turning his attention to acquiring a right-handed reliever. The linked-to article describes the interest of one Joe Nelson in being a Cub. (Thanks for calling, Joe!) He had a decent 2008 but was mediocre-to-bad last season with a garish 5.65 FIP. Fox Sports reporter Jon Morosi also tweeted this morning that the Cubs are still in discussions with Kiko Calero and Chan Ho Park.
Starlin Castro is ascending to the fourth house of awesome. If you haven’t heard the name “Starlin Castro” yet, well, you probably don’t pay much attention to the Cubs’ minor league systems. And that’s a shame because, as I always say, “The farm system is the future.” (Actually, I’ve never said that – but I think it a lot.) Anyway, the buzz on this very young (19 years old) shortstop has been strong and only getting stronger for some time now. Apparently, Bruce Levine suggested in a live chat yesterday that he could even break camp with the Cubs this year to be the starting shortstop (with Theriot moving to second base). That seems way too rich for my blood – give the kid at least another season to develop, if not two. But, whatever the case may be, MLB.com has named Castro the 22nd highest ranked prospect in all of baseball. And he’s made the Top 10 lists of most other minor league pundits.
The revenge of Rich Hill is nigh! Remember, “Filthy” Rich Hill? He led the team in strikeouts in 2007 and made 32 starts with an ERA under 4.0. It was all downhill after that as he had major control problems in 2008, leading Lou to demote him to Triple A. Rich was eventually traded to Baltimore, where he continued to struggle last season. Many Cubs fans blame mental (i.e., lack of confidence) issues on Hill’s problems, though he did recently have surgery to repair a torn labrum. Wherein lies the truth? Perhaps we’ll find out in 2010, as Rich has been signed to a minor league deal with none other than the St. Louis Cardinals. While wearing the dreaded red, Rich will attempt to resurrect his major league career under the tutelage of miracle-worker pitching coach Dave Duncan. It will be a moment of high drama if Hill takes the mound against the Cubs.
*The bolded phrases leading off each paragraph are links. Click on them.