Cubs Will No Longer Be Compared To Model T

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So now that the dust has settled and the holiday season just got better with the “official” announcement that Jon Lester is a Chicago Cub, what will the team do next? They’ve signed Jason Hammel and Miguel Montero and increased the Vegas odds to 12-1 but does this really make them instant contenders?

What about the Sports Illustrated cover with a focused Jon Lester? Will it be another curse or can the Cubs pull off the impossible and collect their first World Series win since the Model T rolled off the assembly line.

Travis Wood could and Welington Castillo could wind up in a Phillies uniform and Cole Hamels might land on the North Side. Of course, I’m a firm believer of sticking to the game plan. The Cubs have a good thing going right now and if people have put their expectations on high because of all these exciting things that have taken place, then it’s their own fault. Just like Christmas morning when Ralphie wanted that Red Ryder BB Gun in A Christmas Story , it’s not the end of the world if the Cubs don’t wind up wearing a World Series ring.

Before the Cubs sign any other player, they have to decide what they’re going to do with Mr. Edwin Jackson. If there’s an achilles heel on the team, it’s him. Sorry Edwin, there’s no other way but to be blunt. There’s still some good stuff left in your arm, but you just don’t fit in a rotation that has the talents like, Lester, Hendricks, Arietta, Wada and Hammel.

It’s impossible and probably those same folks who put the Vegas odds at 12-1 knew it too. You’ll do well elsewhere, I know it.

The best thing the Cubs can do is lay low and build that game plan with the players they have now. Will they win the World Series? Perhaps. There’s even rumblings of Colby Rasmus joining the team and folks, that would be interesting.

Nothing’s guaranteed except the 2015 edition of the Chicago Cubs is going to turn some heads and be one exciting team.

Believe it,

Mark

Lester To The Cubs

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In what has got to be one of the worst kept secrets in the game, Lefty, Jon Lester has agreed to a supposedly 6 year/$155 million big ones contract to play for a team that hasn’t won a championship since before the Titanic left on her maiden voyage.

That’s right folks, he’s playing for the Cubs. It’s a reunion with Theo Epstein and suddenly, overnight, February just can’t get here anytime sooner.

So, what does this mean for our Northsiders? Last time I checked, Vegas had them at 20-1 to win the World Series.

“It’s not often you get to win the lottery,” Cubs manager Joe Maddon said. “We won the baseball lottery so far this year. It’s up to us now to put it in effect.

That’s right, Mr. Maddon. Landing Lester was the easy part, but there’s a championship that needs to be won.

I’m not getting my hopes up, but that’s a lot of money to spend on a pitcher or any player. Ok, I’m cheap. If I were a GM, I’d be sitting way back in the Winter Meetings.

On the other hand, Jon Lester just might be that piece to complete a potential Cubs run to the post season. That my friends, would be awesome.

But wait! What if he gets injured, how will fans react? Will they be screaming for Epstein’s head? Is Lester another Soriano? Sorry about this next one but Edwin Jackson?

Sorry Ed.

To put it bluntly; The Cubs look good.

They’ve got the youth, the speed and now, the southpaw that will chisel batters in that square in front of the mound, so fast and  with pinpoint accuracy;

Hell, it’ll be a modern masterpiece.

Of course, this is the Cubs. Bad Mojo happens. I’ve got coffee table books filled with lore and legends, black cats and billy goats.

As I’m writing this, a lady bug just crawled across my keyboard.

Believe it,

Mark

Cubs Opening Wallet

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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?

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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?

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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

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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

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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

Happy Joe Madden Day Going Back To The Future

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Congratulations to the San Francisco Giants, their fans and all those hard working people within the organization who helped bring another championship to the Bay Area. Well deserved!

To you, the Kansas City Royals for providing Cubs fans like me to join in with the excitement you brought to the 2014 MLB Post Season. You fought hard, you played well, but most of all you believed.  I love baseball!!!

100 to 1 shot I tell ya. I wish I could back to the beginning of the season, and bet some money on the Cubbies.“—Terry to Marty McFly

That was from Back To The Future 2 where the Chicago Cubs defeated Miami on October 21 2015 to win the World Series.

Thank you @MCorcoran15 for giving me the reminder.

Now, as we hold our breath at the inevitable signing of Joe Maddon and the hash tags galore of #HappyJoeMaddonDay litter our twitter feeds, will that prediction come true?

Will the signing of Joe Maddon deliver a World Series championship to the long suffering fans in the Windy City?

Maybe.

As Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer do Damage Control over a potentially ugly situation with Ricky Renteria, I have to say that I’m warming up to the fact of Joe Maddon presiding in the dugout.

Where will Ricky Renteria end up? Is this a mid life crisis for Theo Epstein dumping Renteria for the hot thing down the road?

Is it ethical for Joe Maddon to pursue the Cubs like a homewrecker? Or as some MLB Insiders calling a “Classless Act”

After careful mulling, I’ve decided it’s not as dirty pool as some might think. It’s business. Ricky Renteria is doing a fine job(as of this posting, there’s no word yet) but he should understand that in the best interest with the organization, they should hire the best manager.

I’d bet there’s a photo of Joe beside Ricky’s family at his desk. In fact, I wouldn’t be shocked if Tampa Bay hires Renteria.

Not one bit.

So, let us rejoice in #HappyJoeMaddenDay

Believe it,

Mark

Joe Maddon a Cub?

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It’s been just over 24 hours since Joe Maddon walked away from the Tampa Bay Rays and the rumour mills are swirling. Will he go to the Red Sox? He could wind up in New York or Cleveland.

The best one yet. He could be behind the Cubs’ bench next season.

Although an intriguing proposition and would make perfect sense in a perfect world, but folks, last time I checked, our perfect world doesn’t exist and if it did, it sure wouldn’t be all that perfect in Chicago.

What kind of message would it be sending if Maddon landed in the Windy City? Where would Rick Renteria go? Maddon is one of the best in the game, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it would be the best fit for the Cubs.

Renteria did a fantastic job with the team last season. We saw improvements with Starlin Castro and Anthony Rizzo. We’re excited to see the new kids come up through the ranks in Javier Baez, Jorge Soler, Albert Almora and Kris Bryant are all getting to know the club and the system and we should have an exciting season next year. It’s been worth it.

Not that signing Joe Maddon is the wrong decision, I think he’d certainly elevate the club to a whole other level, but maybe keeping Rick Renteria is the wiser decision. The Chicago Cubs have gone through so many managers over the past few years that their credibility would be under fire if they made the switch.

Sure, there’s been reporters like Ken Rosenthal tweeting that Joe Maddon is a leading contender for the Cubs and Theo Epstein is familiar with him but it wouldn’t be the right thing to do.

“For me, it’s not my responsibility to think for other organizations,” Maddon told Rosenthal. “I’m controlling what I can. I had this two-week window of opportunity. It’s about myself, my family, my charities. At the end of the day, I would never ask or tell an organization what to do. That’s not my business.”

On the other hand, it could be exactly what the Cubs need to make it over that hurdle of obscurity and mediocrity to World Series Champions. Maybe David Price might land in Chicago next?

The Cubs have a good thing going with Rick Renteria. He’s a player’s coach and although it would be business if they canned Rick for Joe, I’m sure he’d understand, it would also be a disservice to Renteria if they did that.

Now having said that, I would be a little more excited this time next year.

Believe it.

—Mark

The Kansas City Royals Clicking Their Heels

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Want to know what I love about the MLB Playoffs? Of course you do. I’m a sucker for those Cinderella teams that seem to take hold of everyone’s imagination, well, unless you’re a Los Angeles Angels fan. Yes, Fairy Tales do come true in the #PostSeason magic of a little sport called baseball.

Yesterday, the Kansas City Royals clicked their heels three times and said, “There’s no place like home” as they routed the Los Angeles Angels 8-3. Yeah, it’s those Angels with big wings sprouting out on the sides of name badges across the backs of players named Mike Trout,Albert Pujols, and Howie Kendricks. Those little Angels who were treated Royally by Kansas City.

Is that too flowery?

“I’m more happy for the fans than anyone else, because they waited a long time to get to this point,” owner David Glass said, drenched in champagne in the clubhouse celebration. “But listen, we’re not at the end. We’re at the beginning of something that could be really good.”

For a city that is more famous for Ruby slippers than sports lately, this is exciting times to be wearing the blue. These are exciting days if you’re George Brett talking about the good ol’ days and these are awesome moments for those Kansas City Royals players, fans and family members who struggled through the lean times, forked over big playoff dollars for a seat and travelled from Oz to return to Kansas City to watch their sons, brothers and “Daddys” compete for a chance at glory.

“It’s an unbelievable atmosphere,” James Shields said. “This is a special time in this city right now, and they’re enjoying this as much as we are.”

And if you’re a Cubs fan, don’t worry I’ll be writing about Chicago this time next year. Consider this a draft.

Believe it.

—Mark

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