The Rundown: Stumping for Sosa, Cishek Signs With ChiSox, 26-Man Roster Offers Cubs Number of Options

All remains quiet on the Cubs landscape, though Evan did cover a whopper of a rumor that connects Nolan Arenado to them in what would be a sensational blockbuster transaction. If something like that is truly on the table for Theo Epstein, I say pull the trigger so we have months of content to dissect and analyze.

Otherwise, what’s left to talk about in this painfully quiet winter? Should I bring up the fact that it’s time for Sammy Sosa and the Cubs to shake hands, play nice, and make Slammin’ Sammy this year’s headline-grabbing news at CubsCon? Why not? It would certainly deflect a lot of the heat that will be directed at the Ricketts family next week, especially if the organization enters its annual fan fest having done nothing since last season ended but change managers.

Sosa and Tom Ricketts remain worlds apart for the time being, which is silly when you think that Ricketts feels the slugging outfielder owes Cubs fans an apology. I don’t need an apology from Sosa. So he walked out on the team and his manager in the last game of the 2004 season, no doubt an unprofessional move, but not nearly the mutiny that legend makes of the incident.

And I understand that the corked bat incident and the allegations of PEDs rub some fans the wrong way, but its not unprecedented for teams to forgive their fallen angels. Heck, Barry Bonds had his number retired by the Giants; Alex Rodriguez works for ESPN; and other pariahs of that era of baseball such as Mark McGwire and Roger Clemens do not face similar ostracizing by their former employers. Deserved or not, Sosa seems to be the only blacklisted player connected to suspected steroid use.

Public relations hasn’t exactly been Sosa’s forte either, however, and the slugger seems 100% disinterested in making amends with the team’s current ownership. Then again, the Ricketts family has had a few PR disasters of their own, though they still remain somewhat shielded by the 2016 championship season. Enough baggage is attached to both parties that some type of reconciliation or compromise should be reached, if only for the goodwill the gesture might provide to both, as well as many of the team’s fans.

The stance by Ricketts is that Sosa “owes all of us a little honesty,” but that seems disingenuous considering the source. I’d be more apt to side with ownership if the company line was simply (and honestly) that they have absolutely no interest in any type of reconciliation, because that’s really all it is, at least from my viewpoint. I know Evan and some of the other writers here at CI may see it differently and their opinions carry a great deal of merit. It’s certainly not my intent to dismiss any of them. It’s an ugly mess, no doubt, but it would be nice if both sides could find a way to make amends.

Cubs News & Notes

  • Per Jeff Passan of ESPN, the Cubs and Cardinals offer the Rockies the most intrigue in any scenario that involves trading Arenado. The acquisition of Arenado would be a significant development in what should be a tightly contested NL Central race this season.
  • It seems to many an almost foregone conclusion that Kris Bryant will be traded once a decision is made regarding his service time grievance, though the best scenario remains a back-loaded extension agreement between the team and their slugging third baseman.
  • The Cubs could carry a third catcher this season with a rule that increases major league rosters from 25 players to 26. The new rule also means the Cubs won’t have the luxury of calling up an extra arm on a given day and playing with an even shorter bench during extreme circumstances.
  • The White Sox signed Steve Cishek yesterday. Cishek was the biggest part of the Cubs’ bullpen during the last two seasons, and he’ll certainly help the White Sox, who have become baseball’s most improved team this winter.
  • If the foul ball incident in Houston is what truly led to the offensive demise of Albert Almora Jr. last season, yesterday’s news won’t offer much relief to the center fielder. Or anyone, for that matter.

Wednesday Stove

The Red Sox have been accused of using video technology to steal signs during the 2018 season. Boston intends to fully cooperate with any investigation led by commissioner Rob Manfred.

Perhaps sign-stealing is just common practice among all major league teams.

The Dodgers and pitcher Jimmy Nelson have agreed to terms on a one-year, incentive-laden contract. Nelson was a member of the Brewers before being granted free agency.

If baseball is truly intent on eliminating a number of minor league franchises, the Lowell Spinners and their fans will refuse to go down without a fight.

Mets shortstop Amed Rosario leads a contingent of current and former MLB players who are cleaning up beaches in the Dominican Republic.

Extra Innings

A sure sign that baseball is just around the corner is Hot Stove, Cool Music.

They Said It

  • “We actually lose a bit of flexibility [with the 26-man roster] because there were times where we’d get really strapped in an extra-inning game or something where for a day, we’d go to a nine-man pen. We won’t be able to do that anymore. So it’s really an extra position player, which is nice.” – Theo Epstein

Wednesday Walk Up Song

Africa by Weezer featuring Weird Al Yankovic. I loved the original by Toto when it was first released in 1983. Then it was so overplayed that I started hating it. The song had a resurgence a few years ago thanks to the Netflix series Stranger Things and I loved it again, but, again, the song was way overplayed. I don’t think a day has gone by in the last two years where I haven’t heard the original version at least once. The Weezer version offers little change to the original arrangement. That said, if Weezer loves this song enough to cover it almost identically, I too love Africa once again. It is number seven on my top 10 songs of the decade. Come bless the rain with me.

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