Cubs Opening Wallet

mlb_a_lester01jr_600x400

Did you believe I was going to remain hibernating for long? The Winter Meetings are coming up next month and now, word on the street is the Cubs have extended an almost open wallet to Jon Lester at an approximate 6/year $145 million dollar offer. This is great on all fronts.

A) It proves the Cubs are spending money on talent.

B) They want quality pitching. A rotation with Hendricks, Arrieta, Wada, Jackson(I’ll give him another chance) and Lester is starting to look pretty darn good if you ask me.

There’s a rumour going around the bases that the Cubs would like to move Starlin Castro, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. They all ready have one of the best infields in the game and moving Castro would tear that down.

So, if Lester signs with the Cubs, this elevates the team to possible playoff contenders to potential NL finalists.

You laugh? I know some of you are out there in Wrigley Land, but just the mere signing of a manager like Maddon and now the possibility of Lester joining the rotation, well folks, this just smells like the Blue Bears are for real and it’s about time.

Theo Epstein is all ready being forgiven for the Edwin Jackson debacle and I predict, yes I predicted last year that Edwin would turn his game around, but this time I mean it.

Oh C’mon, like you guys haven’t said like the rest of us that this is going to be the year? 2015, the Cubs are for real. The National League Central is no more a three team division, this spring, the Cubs are going to maul some Pirates, feast on red birds, get drunk on some Milwaukee Brew and see a lot of Red.

Believe it

Mark

Zimmerman To Cubs?

chi-reu-nl-baseball-wre0022649444-20141005

Well now, this throws an interesting curveball into the Chicago Cubs off season work. Talks are supposedly under way with Washington National’s standout pitcher Jordan Zimmerman. Now, Zimmerman is due $16+million next year and would want a player of “worth” from the Cubs. What I mean of “worth” exactly would possibly mean the parting of the ways with Arismendy Alcantara, Starlin Castro, Javier Baez or Addison Russell.

How much is Zimmerman worth to the Cubs and would it be a wise move to send those players away? Sure, Baez struggled after being brought up, but c’mon, he’s Javier freakin’ Baez! He’ll bounce back this season and be right up there where he belongs.

After the season that Starlin Castro had, I’m not ready to see him go. Believe me, there are good times ahead for him. Arismendy Alcantara has the potential to become one of the best lead off hitters in the league.

That leaves Addison Russell. If the Cubs are going to take a chance, it should be dealing him. Keep in mind that nothing is written in stone and things are just rumours. That being said, the hiring of Joe Maddon was a rumour as well and we all know how that turned out?

“We’ve had no discussions, and he’s not available,” the source told the Tribune.

If this is true and the Cubs are looking for quality starting pitching, then this just might be the guy to solve their problems.

The Cubs can give up Russell and we know there is cash in the bank and who wouldn’t want to play for Maddon.

There’s a sneaky feeling that this could be going somewhere.

Believe It.

—Mark

If You Were The Cubs, What Would You Do?

dt.common.streams.StreamServer.cls

The Cubs have been rumoured of late to having an open wallet ruing this potentially game changing off season for the team. It’s been awhile since the club has made any kind of huge deal sending an all star to the team for a lot of money.

Wait, he just retired this week.

It’s going to be a long winter. I don’t even bother listening to weather reports. I check the Cubs news, baby. Are the Cubs going to land Russell Martin? They could and it would be a great signing for the club. Of course, starting pitching is a gaping hole that needs to get patched up before this club can do any damage in the playoffs.

It’s great to see that Tom Ricketts is on Theo’s side. I’m not entirely convinced that Russell Martin is the guy for the Cubs. Sure, he comes from my hometown, he’s good. Really damn good and would be an amazing asset to the team, but I also think Welington Castillo is doing a fine job behind the plate.

“We do have a lot of dry powder, and (Epstein) has a lot of flexibility this offseason. If there’s a free agent that comes up that makes sense, I’m sure he’ll be aggressive in trying to get there. “But obviously the problem is there are 29 other teams that would like to have new starting pitchers. There’s always that factor, and you have to be rational while you’re being aggressive.’’ Ricketts said.

They need to stick to pitching. If they land the right free agent, it’ll definitely solidify the rotation. Imagine a rotation with Hendricks, Wada, Arrietta, (Yes Edwin, you’re invited too) and a Scherzer, Hamels, Lester or Shields. That’s pretty darn impressive and can compete with the best of them. All right, but where does that leave Travis Wood?

Here’s my dream scenario and I’m just some poor schmuck fan boy freezing his butt off waiting for spring to come around.

Find a team that’ll take Edwin Jackson off the Cubs hands. It’ll be hard yes, but not impossible.

Keep Welington Castillo behind the plate as the starter. He made great leaps and strides last season and might get better.

Go after James Shields. Yes, I know Lester has a history with Epstein, I like you Theo, but until you’re wearing pinstripes and walking to the mound breaking another pitcher’s heart, Joe Maddon’s the boss.

The Cubs need Shields.

Believe it.

—Mark

Joe Maddon Roars

chi-joe-maddon-photos-002

Well, this is turning out to be an interesting week in the Windy City, doncha think? From new skipper Joe Maddon’s highly charged and optimistic press conference, to rumblings about Cole Hammel, Jon Lester, Max Scherzer, ah hell, pick your free agent pitcher and chances are the Cubs name has been attached to it.

First, let me set the record straight. I’m still a little bitter that Ricky was sent packing, but I fully understand that baseball is a business that requires a general manager to make the necessary decisions for a team to move forward. Or as Theo Epstein so eloquently put it:

“As a person, I didn’t want to do it,” Epstein said of dismissing Renteria. “I don’t want to ever be unfair to someone else. As an executive and someone in charge of winning a World Series here, I had no choice but to do it. It was clearly the right move for the Cubs. I wouldn’t be doing my job if we didn’t do make that decision.”

That’s all I’m going to say about that.

I like Joe Maddon. I like him a lot. He’s personable, engaging, witty,” 60 is the new forty” and thoughtful. C’mon, he bought a round of drinks at the Cubby Bear.

He’s also confident and rightfully so.

“I’m going to be talking playoffs next year,” Maddon said. “I’ll tell you that right now. I can’t go to Spring Training saying any other thing. Why would you report? It’s all about setting your standards, your goals high, because if you don’t, you might actually hit them, and that’s not a good thing. We’re going to set our standards high, absolutely. I’m going to talk playoffs, I’m going to talk World Series this year. I promise you. I am, and I’m going to believe it.”

Sure, he said all the “right” things in the press conference, but I challenge any other arm chair manager to do differently.

The Cubs need to be positive. With a manager like Joe Maddon, is there any other way?

So, who should the Cubs go after during the off season? I wouldn’t mind seeing Max Scherzer in the rotation. He would be a valuable asset to a young pitching squad. I also have a funny feeling that there’s a big year ahead for Kyle Hendricks.

What do you think?

Believe it.

—Mark

Ricky Renteria is Outstanding

ct-rick-renteria-cubs-spring-spt-0302-20140302-001

I really thought that this was going to be a quiet off season. You know, get ready for Christmas, enjoying Thanksgiving(to my American friends) but suddenly it’s like the season never ended and the onslaught of Cubs news coming through.

It’s official.

Joe Maddon in. Ricky Renteria out.

There. As those words words spew from my fingertips, I still have mixed emotions. It is true that in Theo Epstein’s statement, “Rick deserved to come back for another season” This is true and yet, there wasn’t any other way to put the series of events down in another way. Theo Epstein and the organization did a great job in handling the awkward situation.

Monday is a new beginning.

In the manager’s circle there are three managers that any club would pursue in a heartbeat. Bruce Bochy, Buck Showalter and of course, Joe Maddon. It’s hard to dispute and I’m sure that people have their favourites, but my pick is definitely Joe Maddon.

There’s no question Rick will find work elsewhere. He’s got a growing reputation around the MLB and way back at the start of the season, I wrote that the Cubs were in good hands with Ricky.  So did the players.

“I believe he did a wonderful job with the circumstances he was presented with this past season,” pitcher Carlos Villanueva said Friday. “It is very hard to be evaluated after only one season managing, especially when your two best starters are traded away midseason.

Let’s face it, as much as Ricky Renteria improved the clubhouse and the record, the Cubs still did have their difficulties and growing pains, but he was well respected in the clubhouse, with the players and us, the fans.

In a way, Ricky did the job. Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo turned into the marquee players that the organization wanted them to be. That is very good.

“He helped make them All-Stars along the way and did all that was asked of him and more,” Villanueva said. “There are things that happen that only the people who are in the clubhouse at times know of, but with all the challenges Renteria faced, he did great. Whoever gets him will have an outstanding baseball man.”

Believe it.

—Mark