Top Of The First
Wow. I had to scrap my entire article on John Lackey and The Will To Win (#TWTW) because the Cubs dropped a nuclear bomb on baseball today. I have to believe that a higher power doesn’t want me to connect the dots between the Chicago Cubs and a Hawk Harrelson-ism, even in the wake of the loss of one of sports television’s pioneers.
Hot Stove Still Warm (er Hot)
The Cubs traded OF Chris Coghlan to Oakland for non-prospect Aaron Brooks. Brooks won’t make the team but has minor league options, while Coghlan was being squeezed for playing time. I was almost positive another move was on the Cubs radar, and with their needs now shifting from SP to back-up outfielder, it was easy to imagine that Austin Jackson would have been a target.
I never really understood all the love for Coghlan, other than the fact that he seems to be a guy that everybody wants to succeed. I’m not sure a great opportunity exists in Oakland, though, as the A’s are as deep in outfielders as any team in baseball.
Aaron Brooks was once a top prospect in the Royals’ system and I suppose he would be serviceable at best as a middle reliever. The Cubs’ candidate list for virtually zero potential relief pitching spots includes a cast of thousands, so I wouldn’t expect we will ever hear from Brooks unless there is a very, very dire emergency.
Brooks was traded from Kansas City to Oakland last year in the deal that sent Ben Zobrist to the Royals. That will probably be his career highlight.
But back to the real news: Forget about Austin Jackson. The Cubs just signed Dexter Fowler to a one-year deal with an option for 2017 after his alleged signing with Baltimore fell through due to Fowler’s insistence on an opt-out after one year. I’m sure Evan will have all the details. Might the Cubs consider trading Jorge Soler now? Looks like the Hot Stove is heating up again.
Fowler gets $13M guaranteed. He gets $8M this year. The Cubs can retain him for $9M next season or release him for $5M. My guess is he stays for two years and the Cubs have another move or two coming.
Godspeed Eddie Einhorn
Growing up in Chicago, I remember when Jerry Reinsdorf and Eddie Einhorn bought the White Sox from Bill Veeck. There were two big rumors at the time: That the White Sox would be sold and moved to Tampa or that Eddie DeBartolo would buy the White Sox and keep them in Chicago (or move them to Las Vegas). Reinsdorf and Einhorn came out of nowhere to save the franchise from either fate. The White Sox have hardly been consistent in the nearly forty years since the acquisition, but they have had a few very good seasons highlighted by a World Championship in 2005.
Einhorn was the face of ownership more so than Reinsdorf at the outset of the partnership. Usually when the Sox made a big trade or free-agent signing during the 1980’s it was Einhorn who was present at the pressers following those moves. Einhorn was there when Chicago signed Greg Luzinski, Carlton Fisk and Tom Seaver, and in 1983 when the White Sox won the Western Division.
The White Sox co-owner and vice chairman died last night at the age of 80 due to complications following a stroke. His death was announced this morning. He was the White Sox Vice Chairman for 25 years and was also the club’s President and Chief Operating Officer from 1981-1990. He started his career in the broadcasting industry, spent more than 30 years in baseball and also served on the board of directors for the Chicago Bulls.
Einhorn earned his stripes in sports by televising the “Game of the Century” NCAA basketball game between Houston and UCLA during prime time viewing hours in 1968. Houston broke UCLA’s 47-game win streak that night and NCAA basketball became a regularly televised event shortly thereafter.
Einhorn is survived by his wife of 53 years, Ann, daughter Jennifer, son-in-law Darryl, grandson Meyer, and son, Jeff.
The Sox will wear a sleeve patch to honor Einhorn during the regular season.
Rule Changes for 2016
Major League Baseball and the Major League Players Association announced two major rule changes for 2016. The first bans rolling block slides and the second further limits mound visits my managers and coaching personnel.
Under the rules changes announced Thursday, a runner must make a “bona fide slide,” defined as making contact with the ground ahead of the base, being in position to reach the base with a hand or a foot and to remain on it, and sliding within reach of the base without changing his path to initiate contact with a fielder. Interpretation will be very subjective at times, I’m sure, and be cause for debate and challenge.
MLB and the MLBPA also agreed to limit mound visits by managers and pitching coaches to 30 seconds. Additionally, it was announced that the countdown clock for between-innings breaks will be reduced by 20 seconds, to 2 minutes 5 seconds for most games and 2:25 for nationally televised games.
Fact, Fiction, Truth, Or Rumor
The Baltimore Orioles may have the most dysfunctional front office in all of baseball. They now have Yovani Gallardo and all of his red flags and rapidly diminishing fastball for $22M dollars at the expense of their top draft pick, number 14 overall. They won’t do opt-outs, so they lost Dexter Fowler. The plan is the plan until the plan changes, I guess.
The Blue Jays signed OF Dominic Brown to a minor league deal. Brown was once Philadelphia’s top prospect and is a case study in poor defense and the inability to draw a walk.
Theo Epstein has earned the right to be the highest paid executive in baseball per Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts. Let’s make that happen.
Kris Bryant called David Ross the greatest teammate he’s ever had. He and Anthony Rizzo have created an Instagram account to serve as a Farewell Tour of sorts for the Cubs backup catcher. You can follow the 2016 hijinx right here: Instagram account: @Grandparossy_3
New Cubs outfielder Jayson Heyward is paying for a hotel suite for David Ross all season long. Membership in the nine-figure club certainly allows for such extravagant perks. It is nice to see Heyward acclimating himself with his new teammates.
Baseball stat guru and Sabermetrics pioneer Bill James Explains Donald Trump’s national appeal in one word. Spoiler alert — it’s not BABIP.
Bottom Of The Ninth
Welcome back, Dex. I am not sure I am in favor of the signing but it did come at a huge bargain. I have to assume that Fowler isn’’t coming to Chicago to be a platoon player. It seems almost a given that Heyward moves back to right field, Fowler mans centerfield, and one of Soler or Schwarber is the odd man out in right-field unless the Cubs decide to platoon both players, which seems highly unlikely.
It is also possible Soler could start the season in the minors. I’d bet a trade is more likely. Stay tuned.