From Cubs Insider: Cubs Prospects Clogging the Top Lists


This blog post originally appeared on the ChicagoNow website Cubs Insider.

The Cubs made a huge and inevitable deal this holiday weekend, sending Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to the Oakland A’s for shortstop Addison Russell and a few other young pieces. Many of my Cubs Insider colleagues have chimed in with their thoughts and analysis on the deal so far; take a look here, here, here, and here if you need to catch up.

(I have a friend who just shipped off to the Navy a few weeks ago, and he’s a huge A’s fan. For that reason – as well as a desire to see good ol’ Shark succeed, even if it is not with the Cubs – I will be heavily cheering on Oakland this postseason. Go A’s.)

Continue reading

From Cubs Insider: Perhaps the Cubs Add a Big Money Bat at the Trade Deadline


This blog post originally appeared on the ChicagoNow website Cubs Insider.

The Cubs had some big money to spend this offseason (Tanaka!), but ended up putting it back in the bank.

The Cubs have a wave of young talent (Baez! Bryant! Alcantara!) knocking on the door of the majors.

The Cubs probably would like to add a veteran or two to the mix to help alleviate some of the pressure on the kids.

A combination of these factors (and more) lead many to believe the Cubs are going to spend some money and add some pieces this offseason. As Tom heard and wrote last week, this winter could signal the end of tanking and the start of spending.

“I think that’s going to be a significant focus of our next 18 months,” Cubs GM Jed Hoyer told Dave Kaplan when asked about possibly adding players.

Continue reading

From Cubs Insider: Why I Want Ryne Sandberg and the Phillies to Crash and Burn


This blog post originally appeared on the ChicagoNow website Cubs Insider.

The Chicago Cubs won their series against the Philadelphia Phillies this weekend. Jake Arrieta and Travis Wood bookended the set with two stellar performances that had overly-eager folks like myself thinking “no-hitter.” Highlights from the home dugout included Jimmy Rollins becoming the all-time Phils hit leader (cool for him), an aging, slumping lineup beating up on Edwin Jackson, and Philadelphia manager Ryne Sandberg getting tossed after a questionable ejection of his starting pitcher.

(Side comment about the ejection: Roberto Hernandez hit Starlin Castro, who had homered earlier. I don’t think it was intentional judging by the look on Roberto’s face. That being said, no fault to the umpire for having a short rope with all the dangerous projectile shenanigans going around baseball lately.)

Speaking of Sandberg, I’d like to confess an unpopular opinion around Cubdom. Since the Phillies and Cubs don’t play one another again this season, my confession is losing relevancy by the day and I’d like to get it out now.

I want the Philadelphia Philles and their manager, Ryne Sandberg, to crash and burn.

Continue reading

From Cubs Insider: Could More Outings Like His Last One Hurt Jason Hammel’s Trade Value?


This blog post originally appeared on the ChicagoNow website Cubs Insider.

The Cubs couldn’t have asked for a better situation than the one they got with Jason Hammel.

The righty signed with the Cubs just before Valentine’s Day 2014 on a one-year, Scott Feldman-esque “flip” contract. It sounds like a great setup to me: $6 million for a guaranteed spot in the rotation to rebuild your value, a probable midseason trade to rid you of that nasty draft pick compensation, with an opportunity this winter to cash in. Meanwhile, the Cubs can use him to add some young pieces in July.

At just 31, the Cubs don’t really have to flip Hammel. An extension is possible, in theory. But pardon me for not holding my breath.

Continue reading

From Cubs Insider: Carlos Villanueva’s Rare (and Much Needed) Pitching Feat


This blog post originally appeared on the ChicagoNow website Cubs Insider.

After splitting a two-game set against the New York Yankees, the Cubs bullpen was a bit taxed. It took 24 innings to get through both games. James Russell, Brian Schlitter, and Hector Rondon pitched both Tuesday and Wednesday. Neil Ramirez, Wesley Wright, and Jose Veras each threw 20-to-30 pitches in their respective appearances.

The only well-rest arms in the ‘pen were Justin Grimm, who threw one pitch on Tuesday, and Carlos Villanueva, who had not thrown in almost a week. (h/t to VFTB for their bullpen pitch counts.)

The Cubs needed an efficiently-pitched game Thursday night, and they got one thanks to Villanueva’s rare pitching feat. Jake Arrieta pitched six innings in which his only mistake was a towering home run to Seth Smith. He struck out seven Padres, including a few looking on a stellar 12-6 curveball. He’s still being stretched out after coming off the disabled list, so Rick Renteria turned to the bullpen in the seventh.

Continue reading

From Cubs Insider: Babe Ruth Called Shot Bobblehead – Why Not “Root” For the Home Team?


This blog post originally appeared on the ChicagoNow website Cubs Insider.

The Chicago Cubs continue their decade-themed homestands with the 1930s this weekend. The first 10,000 fans in attendance at today’s game will receive a limited edition Babe Ruth Called Shot Bobblehead. As you can see in the picture above, the famous slugger is wearing a Yankees road uniform and pointing off into the distance. This, of course, is referencing Babe Ruth’s “called shot” in the 1932 World Series.

I’m not here to debate the validity of Ruth calling his shot. I wasn’t there, and countless people much smarter than myself have already beaten that question to death over the past few decades. It may seem kind of odd, what with the Cubs giving out a bobblehead of an opponent who swept them out of the World Series. Yet Ruth and his home run are one of the great pieces of baseball history, even if the Cubs were on the losing side of it. Teams have given away bobbleheads of their opponents’ historical moments before: just look at this super-cool, flag-saving Rick Monday bobble that the Los Angeles Dodgers gave away last year.

Continue reading

From Cubs Insider: OOTP 15 Puts You in Control of the Cubs Rebuild


My latest piece for Cubs Insider probably should’ve been posted here on Baseblog, in hindsight (the Baseball Bloggers Alliance, which this blog is apart of, is the reason that I got my hands on this stellar game in the first place). But OOTP Baseball is such an incredible game that I’d like to help spread to as many people as possible, and frankly, Cubs Insider has a much larger audience.

This particular review of the game is much more general, focussing on why people should hop onto the franchise rather than much about this game in specific. If you’re an OOTP veteran, just know that OOTP 15 is, once again, worth the money. Get it today.

Continue reading

From Cubs Insider: Can We Close the Door on Closers?


Most of my best work seems to be showing up on Cubs Insider nowadays. That’s quite alright, there’s a good group of guys over there and I feel very fortunate to be part of the team.

This latest piece (which I actually wrote quite a few days ago) takes on the role of high-leverage relievers and how baseball treats the back end of the bullpen today. In short, I don’t like it.

As a reminder, every time I post something on Chicago Now, I’ll post a link and an excerpt on Baseblog so you don’t miss it.

Continue reading