The Rundown: Cubs May Need Darvish, Sosa Still a Hot Topic, HOF Announcements Tonight

Frankly I’m shocked Yu Darvish and the Cubs have yet to agree on a contract (rolls eyes), but Mr. Pondering Emoji has yet to deny any of the latest signing rumors via his Twitter account, so maybe that’s something. Then again, it’s probably just Yu being Yu and toying with us by not saying anything (rolls eyes again).

I was so convinced we would have had an announcement by now that I had already begun removing “KESSINGER” from my #11 Cubs throwback jersey so I could replace it with “DARVISH.” I’ve got two kids in college, I can’t afford new things.

And who knows? The possibility exists that Epstein/Hoyer are simply price-enforcing Darvish to eliminate the Brewers as a potential destination. That doesn’t seem like a tactic either would use, but if this winter has shown us anything it is that normal operations — at least as defined by past winters — do not exist.

Patrick Mooney of the Athletic had the a column regarding the Cubs’ interest in Darvish (subscription required/recommended). And though he is one of my favorite writers, I maintain that the signing of backup catcher Chris Gimenez has nothing to do with the team’s pursuit of the free agent pitcher.

Meanwhile, Craig Edwards of FanGraphs made a pretty strong argument that the Cubs may actually need to sign Darvish if they hope to keep their streak of Central Division titles intact. Edwards states that the team remains excellent but flawed, and that those flaws show potential for further negative impact.

Cubs News & Notes

The fact that both the Brewers and the Cubs are interested in Darvish adds a nice twist to the developing I-94 rivalry. And it’s not just the coveted pitcher. Milwaukee and Chicago have been linked to most of the same players all offseason. Heck, even the teams’ social media staffs have amped things up a bit.

Separated by a mere 90 miles, it makes sense that a natural rivalry would exist. It’s just that fans of both teams hate the Cardinals so much that a similarly protracted antipathy has been slow to develop. This Cubs-Brewers game from late last season is a great example of just how intense 2018 may be between the two teams. Now imagine Darvish of the Cubs squaring off against Arrieta of the Brewers during a meaningful September game this summer. Yikes.

Nobody has been more radioactive during the past decade than Sammy Sosa, who has been a topic of discussion at both Sports Illustrated and here at Cubs Insider recently. The Cubs’ all-time home run leader has previously denied allegations of performance-enhancing drug use and remains out of touch with his former teammates, the Cubs organization, and the baseball public.

I still maintain that the allegations of PED use pale in comparison to Sosa’s refusal to apologize for leaving the team during the final game of the 2004 season. When owner Tom Ricketts indicated that Sosa — and other players from baseball’s steroid era — “owe fans a little bit of honesty,” I am assuming that includes more than just addressing those allegations.

Sosa never tested positive for steroids, was never mentioned in the Mitchell Report, and assumptions were mired in circumstantial evidence and finger-pointing. So when Ricketts says the former Cubs slugger needs to “put everything on the table,” I would assume that includes the following:

  • Apologize and show remorse to fans, former teammates, and the organization for going AWOL and exiling himself from the organization. Ryan Dempster, Mark Prior, Kerry Wood, and others demanded an apology from Sosa in the caustic days immediately following the ’04 season. Since then, there has been much speculation that any reconciliation would have to include Sosa making amends for his misbehavior.
  • Admit to willfully using a corked bat in a 2003 game against the Rays.
  • Honestly address the allegations of PED use, at least as far as making amends in the way Mark McGwire has.

“I don’t know what the other guys did or didn’t do,” Ricketts said in 2015. “McGwire, who’s obviously very high-profile, he came forward, he discussed and admitted at least some use of performance-enhancing drugs, or controlled drugs. I think a lot of guys have taken that path. I think that generally is the right way to handle this. Sammy’s got to make his own decisions as to what he is going to say and not say, and we respect that.”

It is my belief that only Sosa’s pride stands in the way of a reunion with the Cubs. The shock of him manning up and being complicit has been heavily buffered by time, and I believe most of baseball — including its fans — realizes that Sosa carries a disproportionate burden of the alleged activity during the PED era.

Tuesday Stove

The Brewers have reportedly made an offer to acquire Marlins’ outfielder Christian Yelich.

The Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the Baseball Writers’ Association of America election results at 6 p.m. ET this evening. Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero and Jim Thome appear to be locks. Jack Morris and Alan Trammel were inducted into this year’s class by the Veteran’s Committee in December.

Baseball America announced its Top 100 Prospects for 2018. Braves OF Ronald Acuna was voted No. 1 overall, and no Cubs players were named this year.

Alex Rodriguez is about to become the biggest voice in baseball, just five years after nearly receiving a lifetime ban due to steroid use and the Biogenesis scandal. Rodriguez will do color commentary for ESPN Sunday Night Baseball while retaining his position as studio analyst for FOX Sports during the postseason.

Former Twins close Glen Perkins announced his retirement.

Astros first baseman Jon Singleton received a 100-game suspension for his third positive drug test.

Portland has resurfaced as a possible destination for MLB expansion.

Wednesday Walk Up Song

Working My Way Back To You by The Four Seasons. C’mon, Sammy.

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