The Padres come to town for a three game set this weekend, and look who will great them…. KRIS BRYANT!! That’s right, it’s Bryant time on the Northside as the phenom will make hi major league debut today. Both teams come into this series playing solid baseball as the Padres sit at 6-4 on the season and just took two out of three from the Diamondbacks. The Cubs have played one of the toughest schedules in baseball, and have yet to lose a series, the Padres are another great test.
- Friday, April 17, 2015 – 1:20 PM – ABC 7 Chicago
- Saturday, April 18, 2015 – 1:20 PM CST – CSN Chicago
- Sunday, April 19, 2015 – 1:20 PM CST – WGN 9 Chicago
- Game One: Jason Hammel (1-0, 4.50) vs. James Shields (1-0, 2.08)
- Game Two: Kyle Hendricks (0-0, 10.38) vs. Tyson Ross (1-0, 3.75)
- Game Three: Jon Lester (0-1, 7.84) vs. Andrew Cashner (0-2, 4.09)
Who is Hot:
- Padres: Newcomer Justin Upton is paying dividends right away for the Padres. Over the last seven games Upton has been unreal, he’s hitting .450 (9-for-20) with a double, two dingers, and four RBI’s.
- Cubs: The Cubs are starting to swing the bats much better, and it’s Jorge Soler leading the charge. Soler has been pounding the ball as of late, he’s hitting .360 (8-for-22) over his last seven games, during that span he has two dingers, and seven RBI’s with an OPS of 1.081, loud noises!
Who is Not:
- Padres: Jedd Gyorko is still terrible, sorry. Gyorko has been really bad again this year, and he’s only hitting .091 (1-for-11) over his last seven games with zero walks, and four strikeouts.
- Cubs: Miguel Montero is still looking for some solid footing on his new club as he has struggled out of the gate. Montero is hitting .143 (2-for-14) over his last seven games with just two RBI’s.
The speculation surrounding the decision of James Shields has reached a fevered pitch, and he is expected to make said decision before the end of the day today (Per reports on the twitter). In the past few days the Cubs have entered the fray as being one of the teams that Shields is considering, along with the Padres, who seem to be the favorite. Here’s the thing about Shields, do the Cubs actually want him, and does he make them better?
Let’s break down some of the factors here.
$ MONEY $ –
James Shields wants to get paid. At the onset of free agency he saw Jon Lester get a boat load of cash from the Cubs, and Max Scherzer was weighing deals North of $200M before signing one with the Nationals. Surely, Shields is not worth near that much, but when that kind of money is being thrown at pitchers, you become more desirable, in your own mind and your agents. Then came the report from Ken Rosenthal that Shields turned down a deal for 5 years worth $110M, say what? One, I don’t think Shields would be foolish enough to turn that kind of a deal down, and two, I don’t think that deal ever existed. A report that came out yesterday confirmed just that, there was no mythical $100M+ deal on the table for Shields, well, it’s from Bob Nightengale so take that for what it’s worth. There are a myriad of reasons that Shield remains unsigned with under two weeks before camps open, money is one of the reasons why. The other one could be that he does have draft pick compensation tied to him, meaning any team that signs Shields before June 8th will have to forfeit a draft pick because Shields was given a qualifying offer by the Padres, that’s important but not something that would kill a deal.
LOCATION LOCATION LOCATION –
James Shields is from Newhall, CA which is just a scant 150 miles North of San Diego, that intrigues James. The last few days have shed light on the narrative that Shields wants to be on the West Coast close to his hometown, that would obviously favor the Padres, I mean I’m no Geography major, but I can use Google maps. The question is, how much does that matter to Shields? He has spent his whole career doing the exact opposite as he has pitched for Tampa Bay, and Kansas City. Not like he had a choice there I guess, he was drafted by the Rays and was traded to the Royals, but he does have the decision now.
THE MADDON FACTOR –
It’s real. I don’t put too much weight in things like this, but it’s clear that players around the league want to play for Joe Maddon. Shields has already played for Maddon in Tampa Bay, and has said that he would like to do it again. As late as last evening, Julie DiCaro said that her sources (SOURCES!)
have said that the Cubs are still in on Shields, and that Maddon and Lester have been on the phone with Shields. I presume that these phone calls weren’t only about playing for the Cubs, but where the best pizza and beer is at.
So, is James Shields good enough? Yes, he is a very good pitcher that has been very successful at the major league level, even earning the moniker “Big Game James.” However I’m not sold on Shields but think he does make the Cubs better immediately to the tune of maybe 3-5 wins above replacement. That kind of impact is not worth those kind of dollars, or years for that matter. To be clear, I have no issue with the Cubs spending that kind of money, they have plenty of it. My issue lies more with the fact that I do not think that Shields is worth that money, or commitment, either way it won’t handcuff Cubs moving forward. When it’s all said and done I think that Shields signs a 4 year deal worth around $65-$70 million, not with the Cubs. The situation is drawn out, but fluid, so things can change quickly.
The Cubs take on the Padres, and Travis Wood tries to get his ERA back into the Earths atmosphere today. Game will be televised on WGN TV today at 3:00 PM, the game is also on WGN radio for those of you running around on this damp and dreary Staurday in Chicagoland.
1. David DeJesus, RF
2. Marlon Byrd, CF
3. Blake DeWitt, 2B
4. Alfonso Soriano, LF
5. Jeff Baker, 3B
6. Darwin Barney, SS
7. Joe Mather, 1B
8. Welington Castillo, C
9. Travis Wood, P
Thanks for reading, go Cubs!
– George Cotugno
Lost in the hoopla surrounding the Cubs since the end of the season was the little matter of deciding Mike Quade’s future. Even if we, and most Cub fans knew that Mike Quade was not Major League manager material, the Cubs brass
needed to make that official. Shortly after the Cubs front office was completely re energized, the no brainer decision to let Mike Quade pursue other opportunities, most likely in the minors or outside of baseball was made. We will give Epstein some credit here with the way he handled the process of letting Quade go, very professional. He made multiple trips to meet with Quade, and had a number of conversations with him and others in the organization to see if he would be a good fit, not based on what he had done it the past, but where he thought, and wanted this team to go in the future. Clearly, Quade’s idea’s did mesh with the idea’s of the new regime that was now in place, and he was let go from his two year deal that had one year remaining on it. Epstein and company didn’t have to go far to find the 52nd manager of the Chicago Cubs, just a short trip up I-94 to Milwaukee to find Dale Sveum. Sveum, serving as the third base coach in 2004 with the Red Sox, won a World Series title with Epstein. Since 2006, Sveum was on the Brewers coaching staff with titles ranging from third base coach, to bench coach, and to most recently hitting coach. Sveum did get a crack at the managerial position albeit a short one in 2008 when he took over for Ned Yost and led the Brewers to a 7-5 record down the stretch and a NL Wild Card berth. Along with Sveum, the following coaches will be joining the Cubs this season...
Before this blog moves forward, we would be remiss not to mention what has transpired since the disenchanted 2011 season came to a close. The Chicago Cubs as a team and organization took a giant step forward in not only changing the direction of the club, but the culture as well.
On October 25, 2011 the Chicago Cubs named a new President of Baseball Operations, none other than Boston GM Theo Epstein. Talk about making a splash, and for once, it actually makes sense because it’s off the field where it was needed most. Don’t get me wrong, there wasn’t much to like on the field the last couple of years, but in order to fix that, the real issue needed to be addressed, and it was. In order for Epstein to make the move to the North Side of Chicago he had to take a role that was above his current GM role in Boston. That in it of itself is a giant win for Ricketts, many die hard Cubs followers probably didn’t think Ricketts had it in him, but he proved them, including us, wrong in a huge way.
Video of Epstein’s full press conference via ABC 7 Chicago.