Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Morning News: Cubs’ Culture Attraction, Cable Network, & More

Monday, November 16th, 2015

The Cubs are an Attractive Destination for Top Tier Free Agents

What a first couple of weeks of offseason it has been thus far. Heading into the offseason following the deep Cubs run of 2015, a decidedly important few questions surrounded the Cubs; one that seemed to spring on some was the center field question. Throughout the season, the starting rotation’s back end remained a consistent enough question. With these two prominent concerns to address, the Cubs’ performance – and exceeding of expectations – throughout the season has placed them in a favorable situation to address both not only competently, but also favorably. The Cubs, organizationally, have become a place that attracts top tier talent not only due to the talent and potential to win for years to come, but because of the Zen mentality brought in and instilled relaxingly by Joe Maddon. I discussed David Price on here last week. Earlier in the season, regarding the Cubs, he discussed exactly this. “You have to be able to have fun. I don’t want to win and not have fun. I wouldn’t rather lose and have fun but it’s pretty close,” he was quoted as saying in June. (Source) This sort of locker room culture is something that goes largely unnoticed in professional sport, and is really only discussed when one culture becomes dissenting from the majority. Here, the Cubs not only seem to dissent from the majority of uber-professional, and sometimes stuffy, professional locker rooms, but are doing so with results that don’t disprove its efficiency. In fact, it’s quite the opposite; the results directly seem to point to Joe Maddon’s relaxed way of thinking and running the team as a catalyst that inspires players, young and older. This is why I believe, when the dust does finally settle and spring training begins, the Cubs will not only have an improved roster, but one full of players willing and able to buy into the system already in place, leading to sustained excellence on the field.

A New ‘CNN: Cubs News Network’ on the Horizon?

President of Business Operations Crane Kenney, a guest on Chicago’s 670 AM radio show “The Score”, discussed the Cubs plans to fully move ahead with a Cubs’ centric cable network once the deal with Comcast SportsNet Chicago expires. Deals with WGN and WLS will also expire then. Theo Epstein was also quoted as saying the Cubs could move ahead with a buyout, if the price and situation was right, before these expiration dates. While an intriguing prospect of having a station solely dedicated to the Cubs, fans having full access to games may be a speed bump during the initial stages, a problem face by the Dodgers with their individualized cable network in Los Angeles. This will be a story to keep an eye on intermittently over these next couple of years to see what progress is made and when.

Players’ Choice: Kris Bryant IS Most Outstanding Rookie

Kris Bryant was voted the Most Outstanding Rookie at the Players’ Choice Awards. The Pirates’ Jun Ho Kang and the Giants’ Matt Duffy finished behind Kris, and this seems to be yet another award that is not only well-deserved, but well on the way for Bryant this offseason, with the Rookie of the Year announcement on the horizon, also; his competition for that will remain the same as this award. As was discussed here last Tuesday, Joe Maddon is being considered for Manager of the Year, and Jake Arietta is embroiled in the tightest race of any this postseason: the NL Cy Young. All three eligible pitchers – Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Arietta – are as deserving as the others, so the winner will most assuredly be especially exalted in the coming season by fans and journalists alike.

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New trade rumors, award nominations, AFL updates

Friday, November 13th, 2015

Interest in Bradley?

Probably the biggest Cubs related news yesterday was that rumors have sprung that the Cubs front office might be looking into a trade with the Red Sox for Jackie Bradley. The question of what to do with CF in the absence of Dexter Fowler was posed here a few days ago, but Bradley was not on anyone’s radar for the Cubs even then (including myself). This shows just how difficult it can be to keep track of all offseason trade and free agent possibilities. According to, the Cubs are likely competing with the Royals and the Mariners in a potential trade for Bradley.

This, ultimately, is a trade that is hard to get overly excited about. While he would be a great defensive addition in the outfield – which would be especially important given the likelihood that Kyle Schwarber and maybe even Kris Bryant will be spending time out there with him – his bat is still perhaps a bit of  a question mark. He drew walks at a very nice rate in 2015 (27 of them in 255 PAs), and looks like a possible XBH type of hitter much of the time (17 doubles and 4 triples to go with 10 home runs). It’s hard to guess what the Cubs might send to Boston in exchange, but the Red Sox have a glut of CF-types (like we do with middle infielders), so they, like us, are looking to capitalize on their own kind of surplus.

Award nominations coming in

Earlier this week, the nominations for the NL Manager of the Year, NL Rookie of the Year, and NL Cy Young awards were announced.

I made my case for why Bryant deserves this award back in September, and I still think he’s absolutely deserving, and the case was made for Joe Maddon here previously as well. The question of the Cy Young award is far less clear, and to be honest, I don’t think anyone can complain too loudly regardless of who goes home with that award. We all want to see Jake Arrieta win it, but it’s hard to make a terribly strong complaint if Zack Greinke or Clayton Kershaw goes home with it.

Arizona update

It’s been nearly a week since the Arizona Fall League’s all star game, and since then the Mesa Solar Sox have gone 1-3. On Monday, Mark Zagunis went 1 for 4 with an RBI double and yet another walk. I went in greater detail in my post on Sunday about Zagunis, but he has continued in the last three games to post an impressive ability to get on base in the AFL that has been an extension of what he has done thus far in the minors.

The real star of the day on Monday though was Jeimer Candelario. He went 3 for 5 with a solo home run in the 3rd inning. Candelario hit another home run on Tuesday, and catching prospect Cael Brockmeyer added a double. Candelario got another hit on Wednesday, but no homers.

On the mound on Wednesday, three of the Cubs pitching prospects saw time. Rob Zastryzny got the start, throwing 4 innings and allowing 2 runs. He struck out 4 and walked just one. David Garner threw an inning of relief for him, giving up one run one a home run to Aledmys Diaz. Corey Black pitched the 8th inning, but his woes continued. He gave up a hit, a run, and a walk.

Yesterday, the Solar Sox were shut out in a 1-0 loss, but Pierce Johson threw an impressive 5 scoreless innings. He struck out 4 and walked just one. He did give up 5 hits, but worked himself out of each inning without allowing a run. At the plate, Zagunis went 1 for 3 with – you guessed it – another walk. He now has 19 walks in 14 games in the fall league and a ridiculous OBP of .508. He has nearly twice as many walks as he does hits this fall. He will absolutely be one to keep a very, very close eye on in 2016. Candelario also played yesterday and went 1 for 3 with a walk himself. Candelario is hitting .349 this fall.

Baseball America Top 10

Baseball America released an updated list of the top 1o prospects in the Cubs system last week. You can see the article here, but I’ll give you the list:

1. Gleyber Torres SS

2. Willson Contreras 3B/C

3. Ian Happ OF/2B

4. Duane Underwood RHP

5. Dylan Cease RHP

6. Albert Almora OF

7. Billy McKinney OF

8. Oscar de la Cruz RHP

9. Eloy Jimenez OF

10. Jeimer Candelario 3B

Even after graduating the list of players that they did in 2015, the Cubs still have plenty to be excited about in their system, even as you move beyond this top ten.


1984: Ryne Sandberg (.314, 19, 84) becomes the first Cub to win the National League MVP Award since Ernie Banks did it in 1959.

1987: Former team manager and broadcaster Jim Frey is named the Cubs’ Director of Baseball Operations. The skipper of the 1984 Chicago squad that won the NL East title, Frey’s first major move will be to name Don Zimmer, a longtime friend, as field boss.

2012: Davey Johnson, who led the Nationals to the most victories in the major leagues with a record of 98-64, is selected as the National League Manager of the Year, easily outdistancing runners-ups Dusty Baker of the Reds and Bruce Bochy of the Giants, when he receives 23 of the 32 first-place votes cast by the writers. The 69 year-old manager, honored by the BBWAA in 1997 for his managerial efforts with the Orioles, joins Bobby Cox (Blue Jays, Braves), Tony La Russa (White Sox and A’s, Cardinals), Lou Piniella (Mariners, Cubs), and Jim Leyland (Pirates, Tigers) as the fifth skipper to have won the award in both leagues.


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GirlieView (11/12/2015)

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

GirlieView Definitions

  • Lizzie = A funny, timely quote made on the VFTB site by our writers or commenters.
  • Lizard = The best Lizzie.
  • MVL = Most Valuable Lizzie’er: The person with the most Lizzies in the period under review (usually the past two weeks.)
  • Top 10 of the 2015 Off-Season = The folks with the most aggregate Lizzie points YTD (1 point for every Lizzie, 3 points for every Lizard.)

As you already know, this is all completely subjective and according to my whims.


  • for once, it wasn’t about goofy curses or jinxes. It was just good old fashioned bad baseball. No goat, no black cat, no Bartman. Just crappy baseball. That was paradoxically refreshing.
  • To quote him roughly: “On behalf of all of America, thank you for beating the Cardinals. Nobody likes the Cardinals. Nobody.”
  • In defense of those who are having a difficult time accepting the 2015 demise of the Cubs (myself included), it’s a grieving process.
  • Remember what does not kill you makes you stronger.
  • This is the first time the Cubs have been this close with both obvious flaws and the resources to fix them.
  • I hope the FO thinks carefully about David Price. I’m not so sure.
  • Can he throw to first base? Does he have a personal catcher that can’t hit?
  • Even worse. He likes 80s hair bands.
  • Shit week all around. In Iowa for work and the whole Mets thing.. not sure what is worse yet. Sick kids, so literal shit in the mix. On the bright side, my wife is one step closer to sainthood, I’m back in MT, and the Cubs are still really very good.
  • Pierce whom? I’ve missed you guys.
  • Got to have a Johnson somewhere.
  • So… did I miss anything?
  • Swanson gets the crack, congrats.
  • Lizzie’s revolving around the terms “Hard” or “Wood”.
  • Lizzie’s involving CAPS that he does not “get”.
  • Lizzie’s sucking up to Lizzie for the sole purpose of getting a Lizzie.
  • Jake looks good without the beard, I am not a fan of excessive facial hair on either gender.
  • Here’s what I do want – keep that young, strong, athletic lineup intact, and add some quality pitching to it. Then you become the Royals.
  • FA…don’t trade. I’d go with Zimmerman maybe.
  • Zimmerman, then maybe Price…then anyone else…then Samardzija.
  • I don’t know what we had in Wada, exactly, but I’m surprised he didn’t get more of a chance.
  • When will MLB realize that recycling these “old-school” guys doesn’t translate into winning today’s game?
  • I will take a shot of juice for $1M.
  • That wouldn’t be fair to the other middle-aged optometrists in the Cubs’ org.
  • I didn’t go to camp to have fun, I went to get signed. Warning track power got me a few inside the parkers since the 65 year old accounts where playing at 250 feet in the outfield giving them a 170 foot run to get my ball which took them 3 minutes and 28 seconds just for them to pick the ball up. Add three missed relays and all I had to do was cross home plate while watching the face of a disappointed catcher because the ball never made it to him at all, or even back into the infield for that matter. I thought Hendry should of given me a contract but he said the speed of the game is a little bit different at the professional level.
  • This news doesn’t come as a suprise, but Aramis Ramirez officially retired yesterday after 18 seasons. He was with the Cubs from a mid season trade in 2003 to the end of 2011. He was a favorite of mine
  • 1. Frontline starting pitcher to add to the rotation
  • 2. Psychologist for Jon Lester who can help him learn to throw to first and regulate his separation anxiety issues with David Ross, which leads to:
  • 3. Get some better catching.
  • 4. CF lead off guy.
  • 5. Resolve the pen.
  • Wait a minute….North of 200 mill for Price? No!!!!!
  • I’m with Doug on this one.
  • Me too. That’s too Pricey. (GET IT?)
  • If he could hit like he played defense, I’d bring back Reed Johnson.
  • He purportedly plays hard.
  • Bring back Reed and Scrappy McGrit Mike Fontenot and we’re talking.


  • Now why would someone suck up to Lizzie just to get a Lizzie? Obviously someone as hard-working, smart, funny and beautiful as Lizzie would see right through that ;-)

Shout Outs

  • Big shout outs to Bartz, Bryan, Doc Raker, Doug S, Eddie von White, Jared, Jedi, Jerry in Wisconsin, Joe Aiello, jswanson, Seymour Butts, and Sherm for their first 2015 Off-Season Lizzies!!!! Thanks for being here!


  • Congratulations to Doug S, our Most Valuable Lizzie-er this time! Way to go Doug!

Top 10 of the 2015 Off-Season (one point for each Lizzie, three points for the Lizard)

1. Doug S
2. jswanson
2. Sherm
4. Jared
5. Doc Raker
5. Seymour Butts
7. Bryan
8. Jerry in Wisconsin
9. Bartz
9. Eddie von White
9. Jedi
9. Joe Aiello

Chit Chat

  • You might remember last time I asked for some feedback on whether to change the timing or formatting of the GirlieView. Many thanks to everyone who gave suggestions! Everything’s staying the same (every two weeks, no Lizzie limit, one Lizard each time.) We’re always happy to re-visit if you have any other suggestions! Meanwhile, the next installment will be on Thanksgiving. What will you be doing this Thanksgiving?
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How the Cubs Should Address the CF Situation

Tuesday, November 10th, 2015

Q: The Cubs offered Dexter Fowler a qualifying offer, which he is likely to decline. What should the Cubs plan be for 2016 in CF?

Jared Wyllys

My first choice would be for the Cubs to pursue signing Jason Heyward to a long term deal as aggressively as they can. Heyward is actually younger than Anthony Rizzo (just barely, but still), and although the Cardinals and several other teams are likely to be chasing him as well, I think he’s worth it. He’s coming off of a career best year, and would be able to fill in a spot in the outfield very nicely. My only concern with him is that he has spent more time in RF in his career than CF, but I trust he could handle it.

Another intriguing option that popped up in the last couple of days is Denard Span. I actually hope the Cubs would try and sign him prior to the 2015 season. He did not have such a great year health-wise, so that’s a concern, but when he did play, he hit very well. If Heyward is not an affordable option, I say Span deserves a look.

Nick Dorey

The Cubs situation in center field is a tricky one. I think it all revolves around where the front office stands in regards to the future of Albert Almora Jr. I for one am a big believer in his skill set, and that he will be ready to go by next summer. His glove is ready for Wrigley and has been for a long time. It’s his offense that has needed major work. In the second half of last season, Almora made big strides in his offensive game, posting an average above .300 and an OPS over .800. As good as Dexter Fowler was on offense for the Cubs as a leadoff hitter, I think it would be wise to let someone else pay him the big contract that he is likely to earn.

I would rather see the Cubs spend that money on a starting pitcher and adding some help for the bullpen. In the gap between the beginning of the season and the time that Almora is ready, I could see the Cubs playing a combination of Austin Jackson, Matt Szczur, and Chris Denorfia to get by. The rest of the team has plenty of talent on offense to carry them through until Almora gets called up. There is another possibility of the Cubs trading Almora this offseason, given the rise in his stock from his strong second half. In that case, the Cubs should sign Fowler or another free agent center fielder (possibly Denard Span?) depending on the price and how much they are willing to spend.

Rob Willer

If I were acting as the Chicago Cubs general manager and Dexter Fowler turned down the qualifying offer I would look at three options. The first option would be to fill the role internally using a lot of what Joe Maddon has preached on player versatility. Throughout the season we saw Kris Bryant, Javier Baez, Starlin Castro, Tommy La Stella and Addison Russell play a multitude of positions and in this option I can see the same for centerfield. During the season Tommy Birch of the Des Moines Register noted that Baez would take fly balls during drills and I can see him splitting the time with a few others. This of course holds if the Cubs keep their offensive youth noted above and are using their versatility to get their big bats in the lineup.

In the second option if Castro we’re to get traded this off-season to field a deal for starting pitching I then could see Baez playing second and the Cubs trying to add a centerfielder. The hard part is that the market isn’t the greatest for outfielders there are candidates including Denard Span, Alex Gordon and Jason Heyward. I know the Cubs will have money to spend but I’m not sure they’re going to spend around 150 to 200 million on Heyward and injuries for Span worry me to sign him long term. Gordon is an intriguing name but he plays as more of a corner outfielder and I’m not sure that goes with the current roster as we have a surplus at the moment of corner outfielders. I would assume Schwarber gets half the starts in left-field and half at catcher or a tad below.

In the end I’m going with signing Austin Jackson back to play centerfield for this upcoming season to a two year deal for around 21 million. This in turn gives the cubs flexibility to combine option 1 and they get to keep grooming Almora in the minors for another season and still keep versatility intact. In this option the Cubs have the option to add a few more arms to their rotation and potentially another bullpen arm and be flexible more in contracts through free agency and trades.

Jeremiah Johnson

I’m not in love with any of the OF free agents. And even if I was, the best options are better suited for corner spots. So if I’m going to make a big splash in the OF, it’s not likely going to be at CF. That leaves me looking for a cheap option to bridge the gap until Almora or McKinney is ready to be promoted from the farm. I’ll probably sign someone like Austin Jackson to a short, cheap deal, bring a couple more guys to Spring Training on minor league deals, and let them duke it out with Matt Szczur for the starting job. I think it will be a lot harder to replace Fowler in the lineup than in the field, and I can live with a platoon there this season if I think the best answer is still in our farm system.

The only reason to go big now is if I have lost confidence in our prospects (not yet), or I think we’re just an OF bat away from a ring (nope). That said, I’d like to kick the tires on Alex Gordon and Jason Heyward, but neither of them really solve this particular problem for the Cubs.

Nate Head

It stings a bit, yes. But the Cubs will survive without outfielder Dexter Fowler–while saving some serious coin. Fowler’s pesky, switch-hitting presence at the plate was refreshing to a team who hasn’t seen Fowler-like production in the leadoff slot in recent memory. However, Fowler’s play (highlighted by his stellar second half) has rightfully earned him an expensive, multi-year price tag, one that simply isn’t in the cards for the Cubs.

Denard Span is the ideal candidate to replace Fowler. A left-handed hitter that has experience leading off, Span can be the immediate solution at the top of the order. Injuries plagued Span last season and limited him to 61 games, but he was terrific the year before–the 31-year-old free agent slapped 184 hits and swiped 31 bags, while hitting .302/.361/.416 in 2014. The long term future in center field is uncertain for the Cubs, but a veteran speedster like Span is the right place to start–just as it was last summer with Fowler.

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Price to Cubs, The Center Field Question, & More with Free Agency

Monday, November 9th, 2015

Price to Cubs: An Imminent Reality?

David Price going to the Blue Jays this year as a mid-season, win-now boosting acquisition worked well for the team north of the border, helping the Blue Jays along to a record-breaking, precedent-setting season for the fans in Toronto. However, with their season ending prior to the World Series in a contested ALCS, David Price’s exit has been imminent and all but assured. And now, as Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports is reporting, that departure seems imminent and to Chicago-O’Hare/Midway. Price’s rapport with Joe Maddon, as well as the appealing and sustained win-now make-up of the Cubs’ young roster, makes it a near-inevitability that he could sign. However, as with any potential Cy Young Award winner, and top-of-the-staff ace, there comes with it a heavy price tag; in Price’s case, more than likely north of $200 million. The likelihood, however, of Price serving alongside Lester and Arrieta – both now proven aces – would, and this mostly goes without mentioning but the possibility is too exciting not to, prove to be the most formidable staff in baseball. Paired with a young roster, the 2016 Cubs team will undoubtedly be the World Series favorites. And with Joe Maddon steering the sailing ship, the young players will continue to have fun, David Price will be allowed to finally do so himself (an expressed reason why he is interested in the Cubs: winning and fun are paired), and the North Side will continue the joy begun this year.

Center Field: Who is Fowler’s Potential Replacement?

Denard Span to the Cubs has continuously been a topic of discussion within the past few days, after Dexter Fowler’s rumored declining of his qualifying offer. While it is not unprecedented for a player to join a team after declining a qualifying offer, in Fowler’s case, that does not seem like the likely outcome. With that in mind, Span becomes somewhat intriguing, though not completely. His injury-plagued 2015 season proved mediocre overall; his miserable showing against left-handed pitching, however, places him on the undesirable list for the Cubs, in my own opinion. This could have been an aberration, however, as he has shown to be proficient in the past. The Cubs platooning with players on the roster has been discussed, but Kris Bryant playing any sort of extended time out there seems both counterproductive and not in the best interest in the team over an extended period of time. This position becomes, in my mind, the largest question mark, and the highest priority behind landing a top-of-the-line starter. With Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, and Marcell Ozuna being available for the Cubs via trade, according to ESPN Insider Jim Bowen, more options remain, though not without the requisite price tags. Who do you think the Cubs should pursue? Let us know in the comments below!

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Fowler expected to turn down qualifying offer, AFL All Star game

Sunday, November 8th, 2015

Fowler likely turns down qualifying offer

Most of us would agree that we would be very happy to see Dexter Fowler remain in a Cubs uniform for at least 2016, but although he was extended a qualifying offer on Friday, it is expected that Fowler will decline, according to ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers. It is useful to note that even though this would not mean the Cubs could not still resign him, no player has accepted a qualifying offer under the current format so far. The Cubs could still retain Fowler, but assuming he declines as expected, he will become a free agent, and keeping him becomes much more difficult and costly.

This means that adding Jason Heyward or even possibly Denard Span becomes more necessary. Kris Bryant has been floated as a possibility in center field, but he can’t be expected to be the starter out there. In the minors, Albert Almora is the most appealing eventual center field candidate, but he has not yet played above AA, so he’s not likely to be ready to be a full time center fielder in the majors any time particularly soon.

Cubs claim Cook

No, I did not include this just for the alliteration opportunity. The Cubs claimed pitcher Ryan Cook on Friday (story here), and if you ignore his 2015 numbers, he is actually kind of an intriguing addition. (To save you the trouble, he was a combined 18.69 ERA and 3.115 WHIP between Oakland and Boston last year. He gave up 7 walks and 20 hits in 8.2 total major league innings.) Outside of that, he looks like a good middle relief innings eating possibility. Maybe another Chris Bosio reclamation project, or maybe someone we’ll never see in a Cubs uniform.

Arizona Fall League All Star Game

Last night, the Arizona Fall League had its all star game, and the Cubs were well represented by Jeimer Candelario. He hit a beautiful RBI double after coming in as a substitute at third base. Candelario flew out for the final out of the game in his only other at bat of the night. Willson Contreras was also on the roster, but did not play because of a pulled hamstring on Friday.

Corey Black was the only Cubs pitcher represented, and he continued what has been a rough fall season. In his one inning, he gave up 3 runs on 3 hits (including a home run), and also allowed a walk. He throws very nice heat, coming in at around 97 mph last night, but he clearly does not have good control. If he can harness some of that, there’s some good potential here.

I have made my thoughts about the aforementioned Contreras and Mark Zagunis pretty clear here, but I want to share a few tweets from yesterday regarding those two that I think are worth your attention:

Then, there was a twitter conversation I was a part of that  ended up shifting toward Contreras. Rather than post several of the tweets here, you can read through the whole twitter conversation if you start here.

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Morning News: Greinke opts out, Candelario an All Star

Friday, November 6th, 2015

Greinke opts out

I did not mention Zack Greinke in my post on Monday, but he opted out of his contract with the Dodgers earlier this week, adding him officially to the free agent pitching pool this winter. This doesn’t really come as a surprise to many, I don’t think, as it was expected that this would probably happen. Given his very successful 2015 season (19-3, 1.66 ERA, 200 Ks, NL leading 0.844 WHIP), he is likely to be asking for a deal that will be somewhere on par with what David Price will be asking.

I tend to feel about Greinke as I do about Price. If the Cubs were to make a run at Greinke and ultimately land him, I would grumble quietly about him being 31 years old and already having committed a large contract to a 30 year old pitcher, but I would get over it pretty quickly. A starting rotation that has Greinke/Price, Jake Arrieta, and Jon Lester in it is not really one you can justify doing a lot of complaining about.

100 year celebration patch announced

The Cubs announced yesterday that they’ll be wearing a patch on their home uniforms in 2016 to make the 100 year anniversary of the Cubs playing at Wrigley Field. The team celebrated Wrigley’s 100 year anniversary as a stadium during the 2014 season. Wrigley was originally built in 1914 for the Chicago Whales of the Federal League and was known then as Weeghman Park, but after that league folded at the end of 1915, William Wrigley Jr. bought the stadium for the Cubs, who had previously been playing at the West Side Grounds. It was called Cubs Park until 1926, when it took the name Wrigley Field.

Along those lines, the marquee was taken down for renovation this week, so if you happen to drive past Wrigley this winter, you won’t see it (story here). The marquee was first installed in the 1930s and has been renovated a few times since then, including getting painted from green to red.

Aramis retires

This news doesn’t come as a suprise, but Aramis Ramirez officially retired yesterday after 18 seasons. He was with the Cubs from a mid season trade in 2003 to the end of 2011. He was a favorite of mine, up there with the likes of Andre Dawson and Ryne Sandberg.

AFL update

Tomorrow the Arizona Fall League has its all star game, and Cubs prospect Jeimer Candelario was voted in to represent the East Division in tomorrow’s game (story here). Corey Black and Willson Contreras are also on the roster.

Mark Zagunis has continued to draw walks in Arizona at a very high rate, sitting at 15 in 11 games as of yesterday afternoon. With a batting average of .200, he still has a .467 OBP and an OPS of .800. These fall league numbers aren’t necessarily an anomaly either, as he has always been able to draw a lot of walks. He had a .406 OBP in 115 games for Myrtle Beach this year.

Catching prospect Contreras has cooled some at the plate (3 for 13 in his last 3 games), but he’s still sitting at .288/.356/.558 for the fall.

On the mound, it’s been less encouraging, as only David Garner has pitched particularly well this fall, which makes Black’s presence on the All Star roster a bit surprising. I still have high hopes for Pierce Johnson going forward, but his fall league season has not been pretty.


2002: Citing Dusty Baker‘s reluctance to stay with the organization, an unhappy general manager Brian Sabean announces the Giant skipper of the last ten years will not be back to manage in San Francisco next season. The National League pennant-winning skipper has supposedly expressed an interest in the Cubs and Mariners.

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A Cubs OF Gets Suspended

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

It feels like the off-season is just itching to start and the moves are on the cusp of coming. While we wait, let’s catch up on some of the headlines.

Nationals Hire Dusty Baker to be their Manager (Full Story) – There are a lot of people that will hear this news and immediately laugh. For example, Keith Law things Baker is one of the worst managers in the game. Then again, he hates Net Yost as well and he just won a World Series. The fact is, Dusty gets a lot out of teams that are ready to win and the Nationals are loaded with talent. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them in the NLCS or even the World Series as of right this minute.

Tsuyoshi Wada is Going Home (Full Story) – I don’t know what we had in Wada, exactly, but I’m surprised he didn’t get more of a chance. It also surprises me that no one, in a league always hunting for left-handed pitching, would take a chance and entice him to stay in the Majors. At his age, I doubt he comes back over to pitch here again.

Cubs Minor League Outfielder, Adron Chambers, Suspended for 50 Games (Full Story) – I don’t feel sorry for guys that get pinched for violating drug tests, but I also don’t blame them. If it means a potential suspension, but the opportunity to get looked at favorably and get to the Majors to make even a million dollars, isn’t that worth it for your family? It’s hard to say no to the temptation.


1959Ernie Banks (.304, 45, 143) wins his second consecutive MVP award. ‘Mr Cub’ garners 10 of the writers’ 21 first-place votes, with Eddie Mathews (5) and Hank Aaron (2) of the Braves and Dodger Wally Moon (4) names found on top of the remaining ballots.

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Cubs pitching options for 2016

Monday, November 2nd, 2015

The World Series is over, and with that, the offseason will kick in almost immediately. Just a few days after this last game, free agency begins, and I think we all expect an active Cubs front office. Speaking of which, we can probably agree that the pitching staff, namely the starting rotation, is the need that should be most actively addressed, especially given a wealth of options that will be available, whether through trade or free agency. I’m going to take a look first at some of the free agents who are possibilities for the Cubs this winter, and then at a few of the starting pitchers who could come via trade.

Free Agents

David Price

Price to the Cubs is almost being treated like an inevitability, as opposed to a realistic possibility. It’s being reported already that he has no intention of returning to Toronto, so it will just be a matter of who can put together the right contract offer. This seems to mirror what happened with Jon Lester last winter, and perhaps that’s why so many Cubs fans and people around baseball expect that the same will happen with Lester, but I have my doubts. Price will be 30 when the 2016 season starts, and will probably command a lengthy and sizable contract. Although he had an excellent 2015 between Detroit and Toronto (2.45 ERA, 220.1 IP, 225 Ks, 1.076 WHIP) and he would fit in nicely in the top three of our rotation with Lester and Jake Arrieta, I shudder to think what our pitching staff looks like by 2018 or so with both Price and Lester still taking up a huge chunk of the payroll. Maybe we will have won the World Series by then and it won’t matter, but I remember similar logic being applied to Alfonso Soriano‘s contract not that many years ago. In all, though it does seem like Price is a pretty likely candidate to join the Cubs for next year, I’m not sure I’m sold on the idea.

Jordan Zimmermann

Before the end of the regular season, Zimmermann popped up as a rumored target for the Cubs this offseason. He would come much more cheaply than the likes of Price or even Zack Greinke, and if the Cubs are going to add via free agency, my hope is that they would take this route rather than the likes of Price. Though Zimmermann is the same age as Price, I would not expect that the size of the contract would come particularly close. Zimmermann would fit in nicely behind Lester and Arrieta in the rotation. This season, he threw just over 200 innings and while he did not have his best year, this could actually work to our advantage in the end. His WHIP of 1.205 is pretty high, but in 2013 and 2014 it was 1.088 and 1.072 respectively. This year looks like just a down year for Zimmermann, and because of that, I think he could be signed much less expensively.

Jeff Samardzija

When the White Sox picked up Samardzija on a one year contract for 2015, I sincerely expected that he would strengthen their pitching staff enough to help them compete in the AL Central. Obviously, I was very wrong on both counts. He had easily his worst career year in 2015, and I would be stunned if the White Sox want him back. Maybe (ok, probably) I’m biased here, as Shark was a favorite of mine when he was with the Cubs, but I think if any pitching coach can help right this ship, Chris Bosio is the one. Samardzija would be a low price option with pretty high upside, in my opinion. He was good enough to be included in a trade last year for Addison Russell, and I think he’s capable of putting up numbers similar to what he did with the Cubs in 2014 (2.83 ERA, 103 Ks in 108 innings, 1.204 WHIP), which would be nothing to complain about. Considering what he did while in Oakland last year (3.14 ERA, 99 Ks in 111.2 innings, 0.931 WHIP), the potential here is great. I would have to think he’d be willing to make a return, given the success of the team in 2015.

Trade options

Sonny Gray

Could the Cubs front office pull off another trade with Oakland? I have to think that, even though we might feel like we got the upper hand in the Samardzija-Russell deal, Billy Beane would be up for a deal with the Cubs that could mean Javier Baez or Starlin Castro ends up with the Athletics. This might be a landing spot for Jorge Soler too, but the Cubs middle infielders are easily the most appealing targets for other teams. Gray is just 25 and has only three seasons under his belt, but he’s done a pretty exciting job in Oakland. This year, he threw 208 innings in which he struck out 169 hitters and had a WHIP of 1.082. In 2014, he posted very similar numbers. Gray is a very intriguing option, but he’s going to cost us.

Tyson Ross

Ross was a Cubs target during the July trade deadline, and it seemed like something was on the verge of happening back then, but ultimately I think San Diego’s undervaluing of Castro kept the deal from going through. Funny how that turned out. Perhaps we could have used the pitching down the stretch and in the playoffs with Ross, but I doubt we would have gotten as far as we did without Castro. Ross has some very enticing numbers when you look at his 2015 season (212 strikeouts in 196 innings), but he also has some that are a bit troubling (league leading 84 walks, 1.306 WHIP – but that number is inflated a bit by the high walk total, he does not give up a lot of hits). He’s not a Ross caliber pitcher, but he would still be a very nice addition to our rotation.

Carlos Carrasco

Carrasco was a late addition to the trade rumor mill in July, but nothing came to fruition here. I get the sense that the Cubs were looking at several trade options to add to what they knew was a weak rotation, but did not want to sell low on their young core. I have heard that the Indians like Soler, and I fear that given his leg injury history, he is better off in the AL where he can DH some of the time. I don’t want to see Soler or any of our young hitters go, but it just has to happen if we are going to add to our rotation this way. Carrasco had a really nice 2015, too, so seeing him on our pitching staff would make a big difference. He had 216 strikeouts in just 183.2 innings and gave up just 154 hits this year, so he’d fit in behind Lester and Arrieta nicely.

What I’d like to see happen

I have said earlier that I don’t want the Cubs to overspend on someone like Price, and whatever happens, I’m sticking to that. Maybe I’ll eat some crow one day if they do sign him, but for now, I want them to save their money (and spend some on Jason Heyward) and sign Zimmermann or Samardzija from free agency this winter.

As for the trade options, Gray is probably the best choice, but it really seems like he’s going to cost us Baez or Castro. With that in mind, I think I can stomach losing Soler enough to bring us Carrasco, so I would rather see that happen.

That would give us a rotation something like this:





Kyle Hendricks

If that’s how they start the 2016 season rotation-wise, I will be pretty happy.

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