As we wait for the dominoes to start falling as far as free agents go, coaching staffs are starting to take shape as organizations shuffle around following various firings, promotions, and general redistribution of personnel. The Cubs haven’t really seen much in that regard, though bench coach Davey Martinez is said to be in the running for the Dodgers’ vacant managerial position.
But speaking of second-in-command guys in Chicago…
Rick Renteria hired as White Sox bench coach
It took a year, but Ricky Renteria is back on the bench in Chicago. It’s not at Wrigley and not as a skipper, but the White Sox announced Tuesday that they had hired the former Cubs manager to be their future interim manager. That is, assuming Robin Ventura is still on schedule to be fired sometime around the All-Star break. You think someone should tell him? Nah.
While I was really glad the Cubs make the cold-hearted decision to cut Renteria loose after just one season in order to go after Joe Maddon, I did feel bad for the guy. He seemed like a pretty good dude, though his lack of experience and general quiet demeanor didn’t really do him any favors. And now I have a bit of preemptive sympathy as I realize that he may only get a single season in this new role on the South Side.
I’m actually kind of surprised by this move. Not that I begrudge Ricky coming back to town as though he lost his rights to Chicago in the divorce, coming back now as though he’s a jilted lover creeping on the team that cast him aside for a hotter guy with a cooler RV. I’m sure we’ll learn more about Renteria’s motivation as he’s peppered ad infinitum with questions about the Cubs and his time there.
It’s going to get downright nauseating when the [insert legacy partner name here] Crosstown Classic rolls around. The only thing that would make such supererogatory needling worthwhile would be Renteria popping off some Theriot-esque line about being happy to be on the right side of the rivalry. That would be awesome.
Rizzo, Bryant, Arrieta, and Maddon all over the awards circuit
In what should be a precursor to the Rookie of the Year, Kris Bryant was named NL Outstanding Rookie by the MLBPA on Tuesday. No big surprise there. Not to be outdone, Anthony Rizzo took home the MLBPAA’s (the extra A is for Alumni) Heart and Hustle Award. Maybe not quite the cachet, but it’s certainly cool to see Rizzo honored for characteristics his fans see in him already.
The BBWAA also announced the finalists for its end-of-season awards, among them the Cy Young and Rookie and Manager of the Year. Jake Arrieta, Kris Bryant, and Joe Maddon all — very predictably — made the cut. It’ll be an absolute travesty if Bryant’s award isn’t unanimous, so that one’s really more about seeing which homers voted for someone else. The other two aren’t as close though.
I think Arrieta has a legitimate shot at the Cy Young, but, as I wrote a while back, it’s going to be really difficult to overcome the duo in LA. Arrieta closed out the season like none other though, and Corey Kluber showed us just last year how important that can be to voters. You’ve also go the no-no against the Dodgers. In my own vote for the IWBAA’s version of this award, I actually went with Clayton Kershaw, though my vote was cast prior to the end of the season and I actually went out of my way to avoid seeming like a homer. I still don’t think I was wrong, but I feel sorta guilty.
As for the MOY, I believe Maddon should win but I also think Terry Collins has the benefit of the East Coast media bias. Whether that discriminatory attitude is real or imagined, I do think the Mets second half romp through the NL East after entering the season with no expectations plays heavily in Collins’ favor. Maddon did much of the same with the cobbled Cubs, and I’d argue that he probably did far more than Collins when it came to defining the mentality of his team. I guess we’ll have to see what the “writers” think though.
Wrigley to host All-Star Game in a few years?
In speaking about the possibility of the Cubs playing host to the Midsummer Classic, Commissioner Rob Manfred was complimentary, if still a bit non-committal. In terms of the venerable ballpark, which should be at or near the end of her face lift by the time the first pitch of the 2019 season is thrown, baseball’s boss had this to say:
“It has been a long time (since Wrigley hosted the ASG). It is an iconic location. It is a question of how far out do we want to be committed now? We will be giving consideration (past 2018) shortly.”
But when it came to the candidacy of the park and organization as hosts, Manfred hedged his words a bit:
“We are lucky right now, because we have high demand for All-Star Games. Franchises want All-Star Games. They have become great events for marketing of the game. We are going to have a lot of deserving franchises competing for games in the coming years. This is a positive for the overall health of the game.”
I get it though. You can’t just come out and say, “Of course we’re going to give a newly-renovated Wrigley Field an All-Star Game. Hell, we’d be stupid not to.” Although, let’s be honest, that’s pretty much the case. I take issue with the idea that “[All-Star Games] have become great events for marketing of the game,” as these aren’t some newfangled gimmick that just popped up yesterday. If anything, some of what’s happened over the last decade or more has detracted from the game itself.
Okay, let me clarify that. The structure of the ASG has taken a bit away from the singular exhibition game itself, not the game of baseball as a whole. And they do end up pulling in sponsorship for days and featuring musical performances by bands meant to appeal to the younger audience. Take the pre-Home Run Derby mini-set by Walk the Moon. I guess it maybe drew in the youthful crowd MLB seeks, though I was more like “Ooooh-hoooo, shut up.”
Jokes aside, it’d be pretty cool to have this event at 1060 West Addison for the first time in almost 30 years.
Jake Arrieta roughed up by young hitter
If you were worried about the prospect of the Cubs ace regressing in 2016, you might not want to exhale just yet. Video footage emerged Tuesday morning of Arrieta getting roughed up in an exhibition outing that took place at his offseason home in Texas. I hate to draw conclusions from a single pitch, let alone one captured by an obvious amateur, but Arrieta clearly didn’t have his best stuff as he grooves one to a youngster who absolutely mashes it to the opposite field.
— Brittany Arrieta (@MrsArrieta49) November 10, 2015
On second thought, there’s a whole lot to like about this clip. Enjoy your offseason, Jake.