Excellent Week of ST!

There has been some great news from Cubbie Nation this week.

Kyle Schwarber dinged the car of yet another fan. (who dared to park within 20 square miles of his bat) This time the Cubs very own incredible Hulk didn’t break a windshield but he did dent the roof of the BMW. I imagine growing up that he was forced to apologize for a lot of broken windows. Every time the doorbell rung at the Schwarber home I can imagine his Dad just assuming he needed to have Kyle go rake the leaves of the neighbor’s house for breaking their windows, and I’m sure his three sisters just loved having their brother greet dates at the door with his baseball bat. Then again they could’ve just shown the video of Kyle’s high school show choir days and perhaps their dates wouldn’t have been quite so fearful anymore.

Dexter Fowler is back! After initial reports of signing a three year deal with Baltimore it turns out the deal was never confirmed and in fact the O’s front office spoke a little too soon which seems to have stuck in the craw of Fowler and his manager Casey Close. No matter, because the Cubs picked him up for 8 million in 2016 with a mutual option for 2017 on Thursday. We know that in order to make room for Dexter on the 40 man roster the Cubs moved LHP Zac Rosscuscup to the 60 day DL with shoulder inflammation. Dexter and the Cubs may have broken the internet on Thursday when Joe Maddon and Theo Epstein orchestrated the surprise return of Fowler at a team meeting on the mound in Mesa. According to reports on MLB, some of the players were told there would be a surprise and they assumed it would be some weird circus animal, magician or fire eater because of Maddon’s penchant for cooking up ways for the team to truly enjoy their time on the team. Little did they know their former teammate and force to be reckoned with would be walking up to the mound with Theo for an excellent surprise to start the season with.  Dexter was an integral part of the Cubs 2015 success, acting as the regular leadoff hitter, playing 156 games with an OBP of .346, 149 hits on the season and 102 runs scored, including two post season home runs. Dexter was going to be sorely missed both as a player and a great personality for the fans and around the Cubs clubhouse. You would be hard-pressed to find a Cubbie fan who is disappointed in this recent series of events.

The Cubs also dealt Chris Coughlan to the A’s earlier in the day Thursday in order to pick up RHP Aaron Brooks and to help make room to bring back Fowler. According to reports on MLB Joe Maddon said that Coughlan was “blindsided” by the trade. I don’t blame him, he was on a winning team for the first time in his career since his rookie season but he was losing playing time in the outfield to both Soler and Schwarber. Coughlan, at 30, has been a good all-around player for the Cubs, hitting 16 homeruns last season. Between losing time in the outfield to the young guns and the Cubs signing Zorbist in the off season, thus limiting Coughlan’s ability to make progress in the infield, as hard as the news probably was for Coughlan this was a good trade. The Cubs pick up a starting pitcher who they can send down to Iowa to get some real work in or use as a backup to add depth and the A’s end up with a great all around guy who doesn’t want to play just one position.  Coughlan has been taking notes from Ben Zorbist, always an all field player Coughlan looks forward to filling that spot back in for the A’s now that Zorbist himself is gone.

All in all the Cubs are having an excellent week out in Mesa and I am incredibly disappointed that I won’t have any time to go to Arizona this spring. Single game tickets went on sale this week, and my box o season tickets should be arriving the week of March 14th so if anyone has ticketing needs here is my shameless plug Section 416, row 7 seats 103 and 104…..buy my tickets! I don’t live in Chicago and it is very very sad.

God Speed Cubbie Faithful!

The Baseball Fan’s Tale

The Baseball Fan’s Tale- in the style of Geoffrey Chaucer

‘Twas Cold! A frost filled winter night,

watching men with sticks slash with all their might-

His thumb flicks north and north again,

his quest for springtime goes unavenged-

One more flick yields an orange orb,

and men in shorts! Though played indoors-

The scrape of skis, or sleds in snow,

a pig skin passed to and fro-

All these things the fan does see,

On a winter’s night in front of his TV

 

He sits in wait, remote in hand,

to see the ice melt from the land-

So cold and bleak, he prays for sun,

his sanity may come undone-

Bring ivy, grass and red dirt clay!

He does implore but gods nor groundhogs will obey-

To wait for spring, a thankless chore,

with nothing to watch, though channels galore-

 

The fan walks his dog, he goes to the gym

He learns to cook, he learns to swim-

To pass the time while he waits for spring,

but these fads do pass as do most things-

He heads for his stool, a comfortable spot

he’s been here before, he’s waited a lot-

He’ll sit and wait, with drink in hand,

months in and out if that’s the plan-

He’s been sadly sipping since the fall

since late October until he hears “Play Ball!”

Pitchers, Catchers & Broken Windsheilds

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Cubs pitchers and catchers reported to Mesa, Arizona today. The Cubs avoided arbitration with Jake Arrieta, Matt Murton is returning home to Chicago by way of Japan on a minor league deal, 6 Cubs are on the top 100 list of prospects, and last but certainly not least Kyle Schwarber has already broken a windshield with a home run during today’s batting practice.

Sans Dexter Fowler (super sad face) the Cubs need to find a new leadoff man. It seems like Joe Maddon will keep batting his pitcher in the 8 spot in order to use the 9 spot as his training ground for future lead off batters.  MLB currently has Heyward projected as the new leadoff man, which makes sense to get hits going early, but Schwarber is a possibility as well, as is Baez whose speed would make him the best person for the spot if his hitting stays consistent and of course if Joe can find a permanent position for him in the field.

Since acquiring John Lackey the Cubs have rounded out the starting rotation; Jake, Jon and John would be the 3 top starters followed by a combo of Jason Hammel and Kyle Hendricks. There has been some new depth added to the bullpen which should be refreshing when the Cubs start getting deep into series’ with opposing teams. Pedro Strop can only make a save so many times before other teams start figuring him out.

As far as prospects go, the Cubs currently have the number one farm system in baseball. The growth and development plan that the Ricketts family and Theo Epstein has put in place has really been paying off and hopefully we’ll get to see some action from some of these prospects in the coming weeks at spring training games. Albert Almora the 21year old first round draft pick in 2012 will likely start his season with the Iowa Cubs, after putting up solid numbers in Tennessee last season. He’s been beleaguered by injuries in the past but reports have him looking healthy so if he has solid work this season perhaps we’ll see him at Wrigley in August or September. Another 21 year old (God I feel like I’ve accomplished nothing) RHP Duane Underwood got his first call up to big league spring training for this year, he’s ranked as the Cubs number 4 prospect and reportedly impressed Joe Maddon last season. It is unlikely he’ll get pulled up this season to play in the big leagues but barring injuries he’ll be a name we’ll be hearing a lot about come 2017. Four other Cubs minor leaguers are on the top 100 list as well;  RHP Carl Edwards Jr, 3rd baseman Jeimer Candelario, RHP Pierce Johnson, and Catcher Wilson Contreras. All these young guns are in the pipeline and looking to move up quickly.

As far as Cubbie news I think we are in a great spot. All winter I’ve been seeing articles like “Cubs the team to beat in 2016”, or “Cubs top ranked infield in MLB” it seems even ABC is rooting for the Cubs, or at least that the producers of The Bachelor are Cubs fans, not being a reality TV fan myself I missed the much heralded The Bachelor date at Wrigley Field, but I am told it was adorable.

I spent last weekend making college softball into television, it felt like great preparation for the season, though apparently women’s softball is now obsessed with this wrist band that looks like a periodic table of all of their signs (in my day we memorized them and then walked uphill in the snow both ways to get to the field!) It was great prep though, since I was in Texas where it actually felt like spring as opposed to my family and friends back in the bitter cold northeast, I can’t even imagine thinking about baseball prep when the wind-chill is negative 20 degrees, then again these young Cubs better start getting used to that wind-chill if they are hoping to be playing well into October this season.

For now- Good Night, Good Luck and Go Cubs!