The Rundown: Cubs Fans Getting Restless, More Coaching Hires, Harper Market Heating Up, Godspeed Tyler Trent

First, apologies for yesterday’s half-column. I was in the middle of composing what was sure to be an epic version of The Rundown when I was called away for a family emergency. I forgot to tell my editors I wasn’t finished, so it got published as is. It was still team photo material for the all-time great Rundown columns, but, well, it wasn’t the output that many of you expect as far as running the full gamut of content. As Forrest Gump would say, “it happens.”

The Cubs made two key additions yesterday, in case you missed it. Both were coaches, an area where the team has made more noise this winter than any other in baseball. Mark Loretta was tagged to be Joe Maddon’s bench coach, and Bob Tewksbury will be the team’s new mental skills coordinator.

Tewksbury was an interesting signing to me. With his pedigree and background I would have thought he’d be in higher demand or even unavailable: 38 years in baseball, 15 of them as a mental skills coach, and a masters of education in sports psychology and counseling from Boston University. Hopefully Tewsksbury can help Tyler Chatwood and Carl Edwards, Jr.

In recapping the offseason up to this point, the Cubs basically have an entirely new coaching staff but have signed just two players, Daniel Descalso and Kendall Graveman. To make matters worse, Jim Bowden of The Athletic (subscription required) published a piece recently that doesn’t have the Cubs in on any of the remaining top 15 free agents, including Bryce Harper and any of the better relief pitchers. With Cubs Convention just a few weeks away, the front office should expect to take some heat from fans during the Q&A sessions.

Cubs News & Notes

Thursday Stove

There is the distinct possibility that the Nationals are by this point less interested in signing Harper than they are in driving up his price for his other suitors, including the division rival Phillies.

Because so much is unknown about Harper’s market, it seems more than likely that Machado will sign before the former Nationals outfielder.

As baseball comes out of the holiday slowdown, the entire shape of the offseason still hinges, as it has since the free agent market opened in November, on where and when Machado and Harper will sign. Though neither player appears close to making a decision, the process could accelerate this week, at least for Machado.

Meanwhile, the Nationals have nearly put the finishing touches on their roster for the coming season, even as many around baseball are still plotting their second or third moves of the winter. The team’s eighth significant transaction came just before Christmas when they signed Anibal Sanchez.

If the White Sox miss out on one or both of Machado or Harper, A.J. Pollock could be a player the team looks to as its backup plan.

The closer we get to the start of spring training, the less leverage players still looking for work have at the negotiating table. Bleacher Report lists six players who could be the most negatively impacted by this winter’s stagnant market, including closer Cody Allen.

Free agent closer Craig Kimbrel may have a very limited market based on his reported contract demands: the Red Sox and the Phillies.

The man known simply as Ichiro is in Japan right now working out in preparation for Spring Training with the Mariners. The 45-year-old outfielder hopes to be included on the active roster for a pair of season-opening games in the Tokyo Dome against the Oakland A’s March 20-21, and possibly for the rest of the regular season.

Countdown to Spring Training : 41 days

  • “It’s the fans that need spring training. You gotta get ’em interested. Wake ’em up and let ’em know that their season is coming, the good times are gonna roll.” – Harry Caray

Extra Innings

It was a sad day yesterday for sports fans everywhere when Purdue student Tyler Trent passed away. I urge you to read this amazing story of Trent and those who helped make his transition from life to death as peaceful as possible, and how Trent was determined to make a difference, even in his final hours.

Thursday Walk Up Song

Money by Pink Floyd. Pretty soon Harper and Machado will have plenty of it. New car, caviar, four-star daydream
think I’ll buy me a football team.

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