There hasn’t been much Cubs news to report, other than reporting on reports that they are reportedly involved in the very early stages of Bryce Harper talks. There has, however, been one fairly shocking development so far this offseason. Longtime MLB.com beat writer Carrie Muskat has become a free agent after nearly 18 years covering the Cubs, a change at least one of us mistakenly assumed was the result of a move away from more traditional content.
A personal note: I'm now a free agent. While I won't be writing for MLB dot com, I'll try to keep you updated on #Cubs news. Thanks for your support, your trust and the giggles over the years. See you in AZ and at Wrigley
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) November 10, 2018
Everyone’s got their own favorite writers — I have long had an affinity for both Sahadev Sharma and Patrick Mooney, both of whom I consider friends — and Muskat is surely at or near the top of the list for a lot of Cubs fans. Much of that was no doubt a result of her longevity, which is pretty remarkable for a woman in what continues to be largely a man’s game. Even more remarkable was the patience she showed with fans who’d send some wildly uninformed questions to her long-running Inbox column.
MLB.com wasted little time in bringing a new writer to the beat, transplanting South Holland, Ill. native Jordan Bastian from his Indians gig back to the team he grew up cheering for alongside his grandfather. In a post on Medium, Bastian shared stories of growing up a Cubs fan and getting an early break with the team as a journalism student back in 2004. He also speaks glowingly of Muskat, who showed him the ropes back then and continued to buoy him as a colleague in the time since.
While I struggled to calm the nerves any college kid with zero experience would feel in that situation, only one reporter walked over and introduced themself. She kept me updated on clubhouse hours and called me over when Dusty Baker was ready for the media. I never forgot the kindness that Carrie Muskat showed me in that locker room 14 years ago, and I know I have huge shoes to fill as her replacement on the Cubs beat now.
Over the years, I got to know Carrie well as one of her MLB.com teammates. The kindness and professionalism displayed in our first meeting never disappeared. It was an honor to work alongside Carrie these past several seasons, and especially so during the 2016 World Series. I hope Cubs fans get to continue to read her work. There’s a copy of her book, “Banks to Sandberg to Grace,” on the bookshelf in my home office.
I’d be lying if I said I was familiar with Bastian’s work, but he seems like a genuine person who’s got a good feel for the gig and is excited about the next step. It’ll be a little weird to see a different byline on Cubs.com from here on out and it’ll take a while for some of us to get used to the change. Even so, I’d like to welcome Bastian to this weird world we sort of coexist in. And I’ve got to do so from afar since security won’t let me near enough to actually rub elbows with the real journos.
And to Carrie, I’d like to offer a sincere thank you for the kindness you’ve shown to so many who you easily could have ignored or brushed aside. All of us at Cubs Insider wish you the best as you take the next step in your journey. Hey, maybe you could come write for CI.
— Carrie Muskat (@CarrieMuskat) November 16, 2018
In other Cubs-adjacent news, Joe Girardi recently discussed his rationale for turning down the Reds managerial job for which he had once been the front-runner. As you may recall, “industry speculation” at the time was that he’d decided to wait on the uncertain situation in his hometown between his former team and Joe Maddon.
“I just decided that I was going to broadcast another year and spend another year with my family, wait to see what opportunities are presented next year and go from there,” Girardi explained during an autograph signing Saturday morning. “Thought I had good interviews but I just decided I’m going to wait.
“Whether it’s a team that’s rebuilding or it’s a team that’s in the middle, it doesn’t matter to me. I just felt like it wasn’t the right time.”
Take that for what it’s worth, but it sounds like Girardi is doing his level best to dispell any notion that he’s focused on one job in particular. While a guy who’s jonesing to manage might truly be happy with any situation, it’s hard to believe the Cubs would really be on a level playing field with, say, the Orioles. And they’re not, which is why Girardi backed out the of Reds race.
Or maybe he truly wants to sit out another season. Sure, that’s it.