Spring Training Notes: Cubs hit five homers against A’s, Latest roster decisions, Jake Arrieta’s blister, Neil Ramirez’s spot in the bullpen, and another Cubs’ record prediction

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By Frederick Krauss Ph.D.

  • The Cubs beat the Oakland Athletics 9-5 on Tuesday. Jake Arrieta pitched five innings giving up two hits and allowing one run. The start was even more promising because he threw 102 pitches, striking out five and only walking two. Kyle Schwarber hit a lead-off home run, while the Cubs also got home runs from Addison Russell, Munenori Kawasaki, Matt Szcur, and David Ross.
  • ESPN’s Jesse Rogers breaks down the latest roster decisions. Rogers examines the decision to keep Matt Szcur and send down Munenori Kawasaki, the importance of Tommy La Stella, and the benefits of keeping Neil Ramirez as the eighth reliever
  • Jake Arrieta says that his blister is gone after final Spring Training start. Arrieta says he is ready to go for the Season Opener against the Los Angeles Angels.
  • CSNChicago’s Patrick Mooney discusses how Manager Joe Maddon views reliever Neil Ramirez’s position in the bullpen given his recent drop in velocity.
  • Joe Peta wrote a special column for ESPN.com that predicts the Cubs’ 2016 season record. He provides a detailed analysis of how he arrived at his prediction. I highly suggest reading as Cubs fans will be pleasantly surprised.
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The 2008 Detroit Tigers Should Serve as a Cautionary Tale to the 2016 Cubs and Fans as World Series Favorites

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By Frederick Krauss, Ph.D.

So here we are. Less than one week away from Opening Day and there is Cubs fever everywhere throughout the Northside and on a national level. Sports Illustrated just announced their 2016 predictions and they had the Cubs winning the National League pennant before losing to the Houston Astros in the World Series.[1] Maybe even more significantly, the oddsmakers at Bovada have listed the Cubs as the favorite to win the World Series at +500.[2]

The idea of Cubs being a frontrunner can be seen as a blessing and a curse. Because what these proclamations represent is that this new batch of Cubs have finally arrived onto the national scene and with that comes great expectations. The blessing is that these preseason accolades show that so far everything has gone to plan. The curse is that the bar is set as high as it can go with a World Series win and anything less can be viewed as a disappointment.

Since the last out of the 2015 World Series the Cubs have been ordained as front runners, which is not necessarily the best position to be in as a Major League Baseball team. Unlike the NFL, NBA, NHL, where the same teams tend to make the postseason and advance through the playoffs on a regular basis every year, nothing is given in Major League Baseball. Teams have to grind it out for 162 games, which make it very difficult to repeat the previous season’s success.

This is why I urge my new-found friends in Cubs nation to approach the beginning of the season with caution, because being the front runner and preseason World Series favorite does not usually turn out for the best. If you don’t believe me one only has to look back at last year and see what became of the Washington Nationals after being anointed 2015 preseason favorites.[3]

I find that the strong preseason accolades that the 2016 Cubs are receiving are eerily similar to those of the 2008 Detroit Tigers. That team should serve as a cautionary tale for the Cubs and fan base about the difference between being anointed preseason World Series favorites and actually playing the games.

In the winter of 2008 the media and just about every baseball expert handed that season’s World Series trophy to the Detroit Tigers. During that off-season the Tigers President Dave Dombrowski assembled a lineup that on paper was deemed the modern day Murderer’s Row.[4] Dombrowski pulled off an unexpected trade in December 2007 for Miguel Cabrera shipping out two rookies and four prospects for Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. With the addition of Cabrera and the earlier accusation of Jacque Jones from the Cubs for Omar Infante, the Tigers lineup looked as intimidating of a batting order that had been assembled in decades. Here was the order and a brief explanation of why this lineup was deemed so formidable:

1 Curtis Granderson CF
2 Placido Polanco 2B
3 Magglio Ordonez RF
4 Miguel Cabrera 3B
5 Gary Sheffield DH
6 Carlos Guillen 1B
7 Edgar Renteria SS
8 Ivan Rodriguez C
9 Jacque Jones LF

The lineup contained players who each brought with them their own accolades. Granderson was on the rise to being the player he is today of mixing speed and power with exceptional defense. He finished tenth in MVP voting in 2007 and was on his way to becoming a multi-time All-Star. Polanco was a former ALCS MVP and who just came off an All-Star season where he batted .341. The reason Polanco did not win the batting title in 2007 was Ordonez who hit an absurd .363 and was 2nd in MVP voting in 2007.

The Tigers acquired Cabrera with the hopes that he would continue the success he had in Florida, but they never could expect someone to go on and win the Triple Crown, two MVPs and four batting titles. By the time the Tigers acquired him at the age of 25 he was already a four-time All-Star and won a World Series at the age of 20. Gary Sheffield was on his way to a Hall of Fame career (although steroid accusations may have prevented his inception) by eventually hitting 509 home runs. Carlos Guillen was coming off of an All-Star selection in 2007.

Edgar Renteria was a five time All-Star when he was acquired and was coming off of a year when he batted .332 for the Atlanta Braves. Ivan Rodriguez will soon be a first-ballot Hall of Famer when at the time of 2008 he was already a 14-time All-Star, 1999 AL MVP, and arguably the greatest defensive catcher in MLB history. Finally, Jacque Jones was an exceptional outfielder who hit over 20 home runs four times and batted over .300 twice.

The lineup looked great on paper, just like the Cubs lineup does this year, but World Series aren’t won in the off-season. Jason Beck, the Tigers beat writer, best summed up the season:

“With an offense that had stud players at just about every position, many of them veterans, and a rotation that ranked among the best in baseball in 2006, the (2008 Detroit) Tigers came into Spring Training among the American League titans. Fans talked openly in January about World Series tickets. Opponents talked about Detroit as if it had a title to defend, not as a team trying to make a play upward. A funny thing happened on the way into the season — just not ha-ha funny for Detroit.” – Sportswriter Jason Beck on MLB.com (09/30/2008)[5]

What happened that year was that the team got off to a 0-7 start and never recovered. What happened is that they had a roster of star-laden talent and when one guy was struggling he expected the others to pick him up. Unfortunately, they all struggled throughout the season. What happened was that there was no sense of urgency because the players looked around the locker room and had the sense that they were better than all the teams they played. However, that only bred complacency until it was too late to catch all the teams ahead of them. What happened was that they had injuries throughout the season starting out with Curtis Granderson fracturing a forearm after being hit by a pitch in Spring Training and was out a month into the regular season.

The Tigers ended the season dead last in the Central Division. A season that began with national acclaim and fans expecting their first World Series title since 1984 ended with a thud of tremendous disappointment. It was one thing for a team not to meet expectations. However, it is another when so many experts come to a consensus that a particular team is destined for a championship and come nowhere near that potential. The regular season for the 2008 Detroit Tigers was supposed to be a formality as they marched towards the World Series, but from Opening Day on they under-performed.

There are several reasons why the 2008 Detroit Tigers should serve as a cautionary tale for the 2016 Chicago Cubs. First, the players and fans should ignore the hype. Yes, it’s great to receive such praise, but the 2008 Tigers showed that such preseason praise does nothing but make the failure of not winning a championship that much more disappointing. Second, the players should fight complacency. It is true that for almost all 162 games the Cubs should have more talent on paper than their opposition, but the games are won on the field not on the lineup card.

Third, just because a team is expected to score a ton of runs doesn’t always mean that it will be easy. The 2008 Tigers believed that they would beat teams with three-run home runs and were not built to play small-ball. There will be plenty of games where the Cubs will have to figure out how to eke out runs instead of hitting the long-ball. They will need to rely on trying to get that extra base or bunting a runner over. It is in these scenarios the Cubs will need to execute.

Lastly, the Cubs should remember what got them to this point in the first place—performing. If the players simply grind and play like nothing has been earned yet then they will be on the right track to meet those great expectations. But heeding the results from the 2008 Detroit Tigers, showing up is simply not enough for the Cubs to win the 2016 World Series.

 

[1] http://www.si.com/mlb/2016/03/22/astros-mets-giants-cubs-sports-illustrated-cover

[2] http://www.oddsshark.com/mlb/odds

[3] https://cbswashington.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/sports-illustrated-cover1.jpg

[4] http://bleacherreport.com/articles/14915-murderers-row-reincarnate-2008-detroit-tigers

[5] http://www.baseball-almanac.com/teamstats/roster.php?y=2008&t=DET

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Spring Training Notes: Hammel struggles, Heyward stung, Cubs remaining roster questions, Cubs sophomores ready for encore performance, and Kris Bryant and Dad

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By Frederick Krauss, Ph.D.

  • Jason Hammel struggled in his start yesterday against the Seattle Mariners, which they lost 12-9. Hammel, over 4 1/3 innings, gave up eight hits and nine runs. The majority of the damage was done by Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano who went 4 for 4 with three home runs and ended the game with seven RBI. Hammel gave up two of his shots with Cano connecting on a two-run home run off of Trevor Cahill in the eighth. The Cubs got home runs from Jason Heyward, Addison Russell, and Dexter Fowler.
  • Speaking of Jason Heyward, at the beginning of the third inning the Cubs outfielder was stung by a swarm of bees, which delayed the game five minutes. Heyward hopped the fence in centerfield to get away from the swarm, but was still stung 10 times. Luckily, Heyward is not allergic to bees and was able to continue the game.
  • Coming into the final week of Spring Training, Jesse Rogers of ESPN answers several important questions that Manager Joe Maddon must answer to fill out his Opening Day roster. These questions include:

-Does reliever Neil Ramirez make the team?

-Is Baez healthy and ready for his new super-utility role?

-What will be Maddon’s regular-season batting order be?

– What’s the catching situation looking like?

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A Look Back: 17-Year Old Lou Gehrig Hits Grand Slam Out of Wrigley Field

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By Frederick Krauss

I have found it pretty incredible so far to learn about the Chicago Cubs and the organization’s history. There is so much to learn about a club that dates back to 1976. To date, though, my favorite piece of not widely known history has to deal with Wrigley and a future Yankee legend.

The Yankee Legend Lou Gehrig was known for his great power having hit 493 home runs and driving in 1995 runs in his career before it was cut short to ALS. His power and consistency made him one of the greatest first baseman to ever play the game. But, before he ever put on the Yankee pin stripes Gehrig first gained national acclaim as a prep star when he gave a glimpse of his prowess to hit the long ball in a game at Wrigley Field (or Cubs Park at the time).

Gehrig starred for Commerce High School, the state baseball champions of New York. His team traveled to Chicago to play Illinois state champions Lane Tech High School at Cubs Park on June 26, 1920. This game was not just a game, as many national newspapers covered the game and over 10,000 fans were in attendance. According to one paper, the game “took on the atmosphere of a world’s series contest, with two bands, a number of song boosters, motion picture men and photographers.”[1]

Commerce was barely hanging on to the lead at the top of the ninth when Gehrig, who was hitless in the game, stepped up with the bases loaded and two outs. Gehrig hit a shot over the right field wall that eventually landed on Sheffield Avenue and stopped on a porch across the street. This was Gehrig’s introduction to the world with the 10,000+ people serving as witnesses to his power and a number of national newspapers, including the New York Times, documenting the event. The Chicago Tribune even compared Gehrig to his future teammate Babe Ruth. Here, is the Tribune’s John Crusinberry account of the event:

New York City’s High School of Commerce conquered the Lane Tech boys of Chicago yesterday at Cubs park in a baseball combat of thrills and heroic acts featured by a home run over the right field wall by Louis Gherig, the New York lad known as the “Babe Ruth” of high schools. The real Babe never poled one more thrilling, for the bases were filled, two were out, and it was the ninth inning. The four-bag drive settle all chances the Chicago lads had to pull the game out of the fire, the final count being 12 to 6.[2]

As one can see, although Crusinberry did not quite get Gehrig’s name correctly, he certainly described Gehrig and his accomplishment properly. Although Gehrig was a New Yorker through-and-through, it was Chicago and specifically Wrigley Field that provided the setting for Gehrig’s initial reputation as a slugging first baseman.

[1] http://www.rarenewspapers.com/view/581084

[2] http://wgntv.com/2014/06/25/wrigley-100-june-26-young-gehrig-goes-yard/

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Spring Training Notes: Cubs worth $2.2 Billion, Overlooking Kyle Hendricks, Lineup Construction, Jorge Soler Struggles Continue, Kyle Schwarber Cracked Windshield Auctioned Off

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By Frederick Krauss, Ph.D.

  • Forbes yesterday released their 19th annual MLB team valuations and listed the Cubs as the fifth most valuable franchise at $2.2 billion. This is a 22 percent increase from 2015’s valuations. The Ricketts Family purchased the Cubs in 2009 for $845 million. The $2.2 billion is a 160-percent increase.
  • Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun Times warns teams to overlook Kyle Hendricks at their own risk. Hendricks says he is fine with not being in the headlines that his other rotation mates find themselves in on a regular basis. He says there is no hype around him, which is fine. Hendricks has had a quiet but notable Spring Training pitching 19 innings while only allowing four runs (1.89 ERA). Most impressive is that he has also struck out 19 with only two walks.
  • ESPN’s Jesse Rogers had an interesting piece about how Joe Maddon will construct his lineup. Maddon says he will no longer hit the pitcher in the 8-hole, because he feels Addison Russell doesn’t need protection anymore. Although, he says protection is the biggest key in constructing the lineup. Maddon mentions that protection is the one part that is missing when people talk sabremetrics. The other aspect of the lineup Maddon focuses on is “feeding the sluggers.” On Tuesday he batted Dexter Fowler, Jason Heyward, and Ben Zobrist 1-2-3 ahead of Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant. Many feel like Zobrist will be dropped down from the three spot, but Maddon likes the idea batting Zobrist three.
  • Rogers also reported that Jorge Soler’s Spring Training struggles continue as he was doubled off of first base not hustling back to first on a fly ball and struck out twice. Soler is now batting .171 for the spring with two fielding errors. Maddon is concerned with what he seeing in Soler in left field.
  • The windshield that Kyle Schwarber cracked when he launched a batting practice shot into the parking lot will be auctioned off on Friday in the Cubs Wives Annual Charity Auction at Sloan Park.
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A Look Back: How Former Cubs Rookie of the Year Winners Fared the Following Year

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By Frederick Krauss, Ph.D.

In 2015, Kris Bryant became the sixth Cubs player to be voted National League Rookie of the Year. Bryant showed throughout the season that his talent has no limits. From here on out, Bryant is expected to vie for the National League Most Valuable Player award for the next several years. It’s the proper time, before his second season commences, to examine the five previous Cubs Rookies of the Year and their sophomore seasons.

Billy Williams became the first Cub to win the Rookie of the Year in 1961:

Player Games Avg. HR RBI Runs
Billy Williams (‘61) 146 .278 25 86 75
Billy Williams (‘62) 159 .298 22 91 94

*All stats from baseballreference.com

The Hall of Fame left fielder beat out Joe Torre for the award by posting a .278 average with 25 home runs and 86 RBIs. Williams went to having an even better year in 1962 with a .298 average with 22 home runs and 91 RBIs. In 1962, Williams would also earn his first of six All-Star nominations. Williams would end up playing a total of 18 years with 16 of those with the Cubs hitting a combined 426 home runs and 1475 runs batted in with a ,290 average.

The Cubs earned back-to-back Rookie of the Year awards when Ken Hubbs followed Williams’ season with another stellar rookie season:

Player Games Avg. HR RBI Runs
Ken Hubbs (’62) 160 .260 5 49 90
Ken Hubbs (‘63) 154 .235 8 47 54

Although Hubbs put up decent numbers at the plate, he was more known for his defensive prowess. Hubbs became the first rookie to win a gold glove. He went a then record 78 games without an error in 418 chances and ended the season with a .983 fielding percentage. In 1963, Hubbs had another solid year in the field posting a.974; however, his offensive numbers dipped with a .235 average and only scored 54 runs compared to the 90 he scored during his rookie year. Still, Hubbs will always be known for having a steady presence in the clubhouse and was a player the Cubs sorely missed after his tragic death in 1964.

It took 27 years until another Cub won the Rookie of the Year:

Player Games Avg. HR RBI Runs
Jerome Walton (’89) 116 .293 5 46 64
Jerome Walton (’90) 101 .263 2 21 63

Jerome Walton ran away with the Rookie of the Year award in 1989. On top of posting a .293 batting average, knocking in 46 runs, and scoring 64 runs, he also stole 24 bases. His all around efforts at the plate and the field helped the Cubs win the National League East Title. Walton also had an impressive NLCS as he want 8-22 with four runs, two RBI, and batted .364. In 1990, Walton’s production fell off the following year, playing in 15 less games his average dropped 30 points and his RBI dropped by 25. Walton would go on to play just two more years with the Cubs before signing as a free agent with the California Angels in 1993.

1998 proved to be a great year for another Cubs rookie:

Player Games Record ERA Earned Runs Hits SO IP
Kerry Wood (’98) 26 13-6 3.40 63 117 233 166.2
Kerry Wood (’00)* 23 8-7 4.80 73 112 132 137.0

*Wood was injured for the entire 1999 season due to Tommy John surgery

Kerry Wood came onto the MLB scene in 1998 and quickly stole the spotlight on May 6 when he pitched one of the greatest games in MLB history against the Houston Astros. He pitched a shutout giving up one hit while striking out an MLB record tying 20 batters. Wood would continue his dominance throughout the year. However, in 1999 Woods’ fortunes turned when he had to undergo Tommy John surgery during Spring Training and missed the entire 1999 season. Wood came back in 2000 and did moderately well given that he was still recovering from surgery. Being able to give the Cubs 23 starts and pitch 137 innings after Tommy John surgery should be seen as a positive despite the 8-7 record and 4.80 ERA.

In 2007 Geovany Soto played 18 games for the Cubs, which created a buzz for his 2008 rookie campaign:

Player Games Avg. HR RBI Runs
Geovany Soto (’08) 141 .285 23 86 66
Geovany Soto (’09) 102 .218 11 47 27

In 2008, Soto quickly established himself as a power hitting catcher. His play earned him the starting nod for that year’s All-Star Game. His offensive output was by far his best year as he finished the season with 23 home runs and 84 RBIs while batting .285. Soto’s numbers fell off significantly as he batted a lowly .218 with only 11 home runs. Even more so, he was never able to replicate his strong rookie season and was eventually traded in 2012 to the Texas Rangers.

The Cubs Rookie of the Years have had mixed second seasons, but one would imagine that Bryant would most likely surpass his brilliant first season.

Player Games Avg. HR RBI Runs
Kris Bryant (’15) 151 .275 26 99 87
Kris Bryant (’16) ? ? ? ? ?

My projection for Bryant would be 32 home runs, 115 RBIs, and a .280 average. This projection is contingent on Bryant playing at least 150 games. Given the amount of talented players on the roster, Manager Joe Maddon will have the ability to juggle lineups and give players rest. Assuredly he will give Bryant days off throughout the season. So as long as Bryant is healthy he should be able to reach those numbers. Certainly, if he is able to do so, the Cubs will get a significant boost towards the playoffs. Above all, it will be exciting to see how Bryant follows up his remarkable 2015 season.

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Recap of ESPN’s Interview with Jason McLeod—Cubs Vice President of Player Development and Amateur Scouting

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By Frederick Krauss, Ph.D.

Jesse Rogers of ESPN interviewed Jason McLeod, Cub’s Vice President of Player Development and Amateur Scouting, to discuss the next group of talented prospects[1]. Here is a synopsis of what McLeod revealed:

  • Wilson Contreras: Contreras arrived in 2012 as a high-energy catcher who needed to learn to slow the game down. He learned to take a more mature approach to the game in 2014 when he played winter ball in Venezuela. McLeod was thankful for the timing as Contreras was Rule 5 eligible the previous year, but luckily no organization picked him up for the $50,000 fee.
  • Jeimer Candelario: Candelario looked great as a switch-hitting 18-year-old, but regressed the following year and was sent from High Single-A Daytona to Low A Kane County. McLeod said that the demotion forced Candelario to deal with failure. There was also a question about his fitness, but he has since worked hard at getting into shape and has improved his defense immensely. McLeod said two years ago Candelario would not have been a major league third basemen, but now he says he is definitely a major league third baseman.
  • Dylan Cease and Tommy John Recovery: The “whole Tommy John process allows a player to strengthen his body,” says McLeod. Cease, out of high school, did not have clean mechanics, but through his hard work he has cleaned up his delivery. He only has 25 innings of rookie ball experience at this point, so this first full season will be important. McLeod says they are “going to take the reins off him.” Also, he feels that Cease was in essence a lottery ticket because he dropped in the draft due to Tommy John surgery.
  • Next Crop of Prospects: McLeod says he was impressed with the guys from last year’s draft class. He says Ian Happ (first round pick) has shown a lot of improvement into his transition to playing second base every day. DJ Wilson has created the most buzz among the staff due to his athleticism. McLeod also mentions Donnie Dewees, Bryan Hudson, and Eloy Jimenez as other players that are turning heads. Moreover, that the Class-A South Bend team will be a prospect-laden team.
  • Pitching Prospects on the Horizon: McLeod says that pitchers Pierce Johnson, Duane Underwood, and Ryan Williams all need to take a bigger step this year. He states that they will all be tested in the Pacific Coast League, which is a great hitter’s league.
  • Strategy to Draft without 1st or 2nd Round Picks: McLeod mentions that it is going to be weird for them not to be drafting on the first day, he’s never been involved in a draft without picks in the first two rounds. His strategy involves examining past good players who were drafted in rounds three and beyond. He says they will be ultra-prepared since they will not be focused on guys at the top of the draft class.

 

[1] http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/id/36972/jason-mcleod-qa-pitcher-dylan-cease-is-a-lottery-ticket

 

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Is Jeimer Candelario the Key Player to the Cubs Winning the World Series?

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By Frederick Krauss

On Friday, the Cubs cut 11 players from their big league camp. Among those sent to the minors was prized prospects catcher Willson Contreras and pitcher C.J. Edwards, Jr.[1] However, the most notable prospect sent down was third baseman Jeimer Candelario who has been scorching the Cactus League to the tune of a .355 average and an OPS of 1.071. Manager Joe Maddon was extremely surprised when the decision was made to send Candelario to the AA Tennessee Smokies. He said to the third baseman, “How can we possibly send you out? You’re the best hitter in the Valley right now. What’s wrong with us?”[2] Here are Candelario’s impressive Spring Training statistics:

Player G AB R H HR RBI AVG OPS
Jeimer Candelario 3B 13 31 5 11 2 3 .355 1.071

Now that the main roster is starting to round out with the expected players one would think that this may be the last we hear about Candelario until the Cubs break camp next spring, especially since Kris Bryant is entrenched at third base. But I argue this might not be the case. Even more so, I believe it is highly likely that Candelario might be, in one way or another, the final piece to the Cubs winning the World Series.

It has been widely speculated that the Cubs will still be looking for additional pitching come the trade deadline. Specifically, it has been reported by CSN Chicago that the Cubs may be looking to trade for San Diego Padres right hander Tyson Ross.[3] Moreover, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports suggests that Oakland Athletics Sonny Gray might be another target.[4] No matter what, if the Cubs can get a top-flight starter by the July deadline they will be even more of a front runner to win a championship.

Still, in order to get talents like Ross or Gray the Cubs will have to pay a hefty price that will include giving up a player and/or a number of prospects. I feel the Cubs will involve Candelario in one of two scenarios to obtain a vital pitching acquisition:

  1. Use Candelario as a centerpiece in trade package

The Cubs have two top prospects that appear untouchable: Shortstop Gleyber Torres and Contreras. As a result, clubs will have to look towards other players in the Cubs farm system to acquire if they are seeking to trade a pitcher. It is likely that those organizations will want a major-league ready prospect. As of now, Candelario’s stock has never been higher. However, if he continues to swing a hot bat like he did in Spring Training he will garner much attention during the trade deadline. Being that Bryant could potentially play third base for the Cubs for the next decade the team would consider using Candelario as the big chip in a trade package. Ultimately, if the Cubs and the fan base want to keep Torres and Contreras while still furthering their World Series hopes it’s imperative for Candelario to further his stock by dominating in the minors.

  1. Recall Candelario to play third base

Last week Maddon addressed the defensive difficulties left fielder Jorge Soler was having during Spring Training.[5] If Soler continues to have these lapses during the season and Candelario continues to rake in the minors it opens the door for Maddon to make a decision. It is not too far of a stretch for the club to call up Candelario to play third base and move Bryant to left field who played 19 games in the outfield in 2015. This would leave Soler on the trading block. Despite the defensive woes his offense is something that many teams would covet in their lineup.

By July, if all goes right, the Cubs should be a contender who is looking to bolster their rotation in an effort to create separation from the rest of the contenders. And for such a trade to occur I think it will rest on the play of Candelario whether he is playing at Wrigley in July or for another club. No matter what, his play may hold the key to unlocking the door to a World Series.

[1] http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/id/36916/cubs-cut-11-but-willson-contreras-jeimer-candelario-made-their-mark

[2] http://www.csnchicago.com/cubs/cubs-have-big-plans-willson-contreras-and-jeimer-candelario

[3] http://www.csnchicago.com/cubs/tyson-ross-still-looks-pitcher-cubs-will-have-trade-deadline-radar?p=ya5nbcs&ocid=yahoo

[4] http://www.foxsports.com/mlb/story/chicago-cubs-joe-maddon-kris-bryant-kyle-schwarber-anthony-rizzo-too-loaded-to-fail-031616

[5] http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball/cubs/ct-jorge-soler-defensive-woes-spring-spt-0316-20160315-story.html

 

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Vote Now! Who is Bill Murray’s Best Character Poll! 

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Bill Murray is an American icon and legend. He was born in Evanston and grew up in Wilmette, Illinois, just outside of Chicago. He is inarguably the Cubs biggest and most famous celebrity fan. Murray is regular at Wrigley Field whether it’s throwing out the first pitch, singing “Take Me out to the Ball Game”, or rooting the Cubbies on from the stands. We all have our favorite Bill Murray movies and characters. Here, we want to find out who you think is the greatest Bill Murray character. The poll is easy, just follow us on Twitter and select your favorite character, It’s like “mashed potatoes and gravy, Marie!”

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Spring Training Notes: Cubs Offense Continues to Score, Zobrist Scratched, Warriors Have “Lineup of Death”—Cubs have “Lineup to Glory”, Bryant Plays Another Prank, Russell on Smoking Ban

Photo Source: MLB.com

By Frederick Krauss, Ph.D.

    • The Cubs offense again showed their ability to put runs on the board with ease in their 15 run outburst against the Arizona Diamondbacks. In their 15-4 win, the Cubs got a home run from Jorge Soler and triples from Kyle Schwarber, Dexter Fowler, and Jason Heyward. Ben Zobrist was scratched from the lineup due to an ingrown toenail. Zobrist will also miss today’s game against the White Sox.
    • Before Zobrist was scratched news widely circulated that the lineup Manager Joe Maddon was putting out against the Diamondbacks was a preview of their Opening Day lineup:
    1 Dexter Fowler CF
    2 Jason Heyward RF
    3 Ben Zobrist 2B
    4 Anthony Rizzo 1B
    5 Kris Bryant 3B
    6 Kyle Schwarber C
    7 Jorge Soler LF
    8 Addison Russell SS
    9 Pitcher P

    Just seeing that lineup on paper must intimidate pitchers as there are no easy outs 1-8. Cubs fans must be getting excited as that lineup on paper was close to a reality and will be soon. The Golden State Warriors utilize a lineup often referred to as the “Lineup of Death,” might this Cubs potent offense be called the “Lineup to Glory”?

    • Kris Bryant once again decided to play a prank. Last September Bryant posed as a Lyft driver to see if Cubs fans recognized him. This time, on Thursday, he posed as a European transfer student on the Mesa Community College baseball team and showed off a power display that had the players dreaming of a College World Series title. The Thunderbirds coach Anthony Cirelli was in on the joke. He said that Bryant was a late arrival who went by the name Roy Nabryt (short for Rookie of the Year and an anagram of Bryant).
    • Joe Maddon and John Lackey have been outspoken about the City of Chicago banning the use of smokeless tobacco in sports venues. While shortstop Addison Russell, who is a user of smokeless tobacco, says that he is in support of the measure. Speaking to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, Addison said, “I have cut it down a lot. I think it’s a good thing for baseball. At the end of the day, it’s going to better our health. I’m all up for it.”
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