Good morning, friends. Hey, the Cubs are getting set to open up their 2018 campaign with three consecutive NLCS appearances in tow. If that isn’t cause enough to be excited, we know that the team is still trying to get better. Here’s a look at some of the stories we will be hearing about until the Cubs square off against the Marlins in the season opener on March 29th:
- A slimmed-down Kyle Schwarber.
- Will Mike Montgomery start or stay in his role of swingman if the team signs another pitcher?
- How good is the current starting rotation? Will Jose Quintana or Kyle Hendricks assume the role as a No. 1 starter, and will Jon Lester bounce back after a mediocre 2017?
- Can Jason Heyward improve at the plate and lead this team as its MVP?
- Will Brandon Morrow be as effective as Wade Davis as the team’s closer?
- How will Tyler Chatwood fare as the Cubs No. 4 or 5 starter?
Joe Maddon has yet to officially brand this team with a theme, but we do know that he intends to stress enthusiasm and energy.
“The two most important items all summer will be energy and enthusiasm,” Maddon said at this year’s Cubs Convention. “We’ve been [to the postseason] three years in a row, right? We’re pretty good, we have good guys coming back, we acquired some good guys [for 2018]. If you show up with the right mental attitude every day, that’s when all that stuff really kicks in. If I’m going to make an emphasis on anything, it’ll be that.”
Maddon loves to mix and match his players, and he’ll do exactly that in 2018. The Cubs offense is nearly the same as last season, with only fringe players John Jay, Leonys Martin, Alex Avila, and Rene Rivera absent from the season-ending roster. Javier Baez will see extensive time in the infield and Ian Happ will get regular reps in the outfield.
Cubs News & Notes
After failing to reach an agreement on a salary figure for the 2018 season, the Chicago Cubs and reliever Justin Grimm will be heading for an arbitration hearing this week. Grimm filed for $2.475 million, while the Cubs countered with a $2.2 million offer. This will be the first arbitration hearing for the team since Theo Epstein took over.
Catcher Willson Contreras is an all-out warrior every time he steps on the field.
Todd Frazier agreed to a two-year, $17 million contract with the Mets, signaling that the Yankees simply weren’t interested — at least beyond a one-year deal — and that Yankees GM Brian Cashman is content with Miguel Andujar as their Opening Day third baseman. Frazier was ranked 17th on MLBTR’s Top 50 Free Agents List, and was predicted to sign a 3/$33M deal. This is a decent value signing for the Mets and likely means the end of David Wright’s tenure with the team.
White Sox OF prospect Eloy Jimenez has a personal goal of reaching the major leagues later this year, if not directly out of spring training.
Journeyman reliever Phil Coke is trying to reinvent himself as a knuckleball pitcher. Coke pitched in Japan last year and had 16 appearances with the Cubs in 2015.
The Astros bought out OF George Springer’s next two arb years for $24 million. He’ll have one more year of arbitration eligibility in 2020 before becoming a free agent.
J.J. Cooper of Baseball America thinks that baseball should adopt a Tank Tax of some sort in its next collective bargaining agreement, such as a draft lottery or salary floor.
The current climate suggests there is a chance for some type of estrangement between players and owners once the current CBA expires after the 2021 season. With that in mind, the Sporting News takes a look at MLB’s previous work stoppages.
Tuesday Walk Up Song
Money For Nothing by Dire Straits. Are we seeing the beginning of the end of free agency as we have known it since the mid 1970’s? Also, sorry/not sorry I Rick-Rolled you up above. It was a slow day. Let me have my fun.