The 2014 Chicago Cubs

Continuing the NL Central Preview series, I am taking a look at each of the NL Central clubs and looking at their additions and figuring out what I project they could do in 2014.

2013 Results: 66-96, 31 games back
Key Arrivals: C George Kottaras, CF Justin Ruggiano, LHP Wesley Wright, RHP Jose Veras, RHP Jason Hammel, RHP James McDonald, 2B Emilio Bonifacio
Key Departures: RHP Kevin Gregg, RHP Scott Baker, RHP Daniel Bard, 1B Mat Gamel, LF Brian Bogusevic

For the Cubs, 2014 looks like it’ll be another rebuilding season. “Just wait until next year,” continues to be the Cubs’ rallying cry as fans joked that their biggest offseason addition was Clark the Cub, the team’s new official mascot.

After two years as the manager of the Cubs where a team with an incredibly bare cupboard lost, Dale Sveum was let go as manager. The team brought in a first time manager in Rick Renteria. It wasn’t a move I thought highly of. I like Sveum as a manager and it wasn’t his fault that the team was losing. I don’t think there was a person in the world who expected the Cubs to do any better than they did. [click to continue…]

UCB Radio: January 22, 2014

Kevin Reynolds is back with me on tonight’s UCB Radio. We talked about his weekend experiences at Winter Warm-Up, Matt “Little City” Adams, and the potential for a starting pitching competition. Listen to the podcast version here:

Jay and Bourjos avoid arbitration

According to media reports today the St. Louis Cardinals have inked deals with center fielders Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos to avoid arbitration hearings. The deals, which haven’t been announced yet by the club, leave infielder Daniel Descalso as the only pending arbitration case for the Cardinals.

Jay’s deal is reported to be a 1 year, $3.25 million contract that comes in just less than his $3.4 million arbitration estimate from MLB Trade Rumors. Jay, who will turn 29 in March, struggles last year posting a .276 batting average along with a 102 OPS+. His defense also struggled as he went from one of the better rated defenders to one of the NL’s worst in center field. Those struggles likely cost Jay some money in arbitration.

Bourjos’ deal is reported to be a 1 year, $1.2 million contract with an additional $150,000 in plate appearance incentives. Bourjos, who will be 27 in March, is widely expected to be the Cardinals’ starting center fielder in 2014. He is coming off an injury shortened year that saw him hit .274 over just 196 plate appearances. However, he was hitting well over .300 when he broke his wrist in June. He is also regarded as the best defensive center fielder in baseball. [click to continue…]

Jay avoids arbitration

The Cardinals sign CF Jon Jay to a 1 year, $3.25 million deal to avoid arbitration.

Cubs catching flack for new mascot

Earlier this week the Chicago Cubs unveiled their first official team mascot in history, Clark the Cub. General response on the Internet has been predictably humorous and unpredictably angry. Stuff like that it’s the Cubs’ biggest offseason addition and that all lovable children’s characters have no pants. Or you rib Cubs fans for a century of futility like Dennis Lawson or whip out Photoshop like Matt Sebek.

Beyond all the humor and general fun poking that was done by baseball fans there was a rather vitriolic response to the mascot that surprised me. I’ve read people calling it stupid. That the Cubs lost their dignity by adopting an official mascot. That it’s turning their back on tradition.

I think some people are missing the point. [click to continue…]