The Rundown: Manager David Era Begins, Cubs Vets May Surprise, Looks Like Zobrist Has Retired

Are you as encouraged as I am that the Cubs have almost their entire team in camp already, even though the official reporting date for position players is still four days away? Let me quote my dear old dad for you all once again.

“Shortcuts are a path to last place. If you had started your journey a week ago you would already be one week ahead of everybody else.”

Look, he was no Socrates, just a dude in a white collar job with a blue collar mentality. When I think about it, that’s a pretty apt description of David Ross and a few of his charges, mainly Jon Lester, Anthony Rizzo, Steven Souza Jr., Kyle Schwarber, and Jason Kipnis. Maybe that’s the type of attitude Theo Epstein decided works best when completing a roster with a very limited budget. It certainly can’t hurt, especially since the team’s new strategy is geared more toward out-developing their opponents.

Older players willing to accept one-year deals work as an excellent stopgap when you are counting on pitching and hitting labs to churn out waves of major league-ready players from within the lower levels of your system. Having a coaching staff with one of the better combined pedigrees in all of baseball doesn’t hurt, either.

Signing veterans whose sole desire is to hang on to their careers keeps the team’s competitive window open, saves money, and might be a way to catch lightning in a bottle with a player or two that has had a string of successful seasons in his past. Kipnis, 33, and Souza, 30, are great examples. If fans want to write off either or both as washed up, fine, let the veterans prove to us that they’re not. I think both will surprise a lot of Cubs fans this year. At the very least, they might be excellent trade candidates at the deadline if the team is not competitive.

However, I think the Cubs will be competitive this year. If you remove your blinders of disappointment from the last two seasons and look at the team’s lineup, it potentially rates among the best in baseball. And that’s where improvements in the coaching ranks throughout the organization should help. If there has been a more glaring problem than the inability to further develop players at the major league level, I’d like to know what that is. After winning the World Series in 2016, the Cubs flatlined as a whole. Are we really to believe that all of these players peaked as 22-26-year-olds in their first and second major league seasons?

Yes, something has been missing, and maybe bringing in a few guys whose collective work ethic has been historically off the charts was a smart move. Adding a manager whose entire career was based on outworking his opponents might be considered likewise brilliant. Like Joe Maddon, Ross has had success at every stop in his career. The difference is Ross fought for it a little more, so he’s less likely to accept the laissez faire attitude that has permeated the organization since he retired as a player.

Cubs News & Notes

MLB Spring Training Notes

In an effort to acquire Mookie Betts, the Mets reportedly offered packages centered around Brandon Nimmo or J.D. Davis and one of their top infield prospects, Andres Gimenez or Ronny Mauricio, but would not part with Jeff McNeill.

David Price still he believes he can be a staff ace and intends to prove it in his new gig with the Dodgers.

The White Sox have massive expectations for this season.

Taijuan Walker has returned to the Mariners, agreeing with the team on a one-year, $2 million deal.

The MLB Tonight crew breaks down the new rules changes for the 2020 season (video).

The A’s allegedly filed a complaint with MLB regarding suspicious activity by the Astros before Mike Fiers broke the news that Houston was illegally stealing signs.

Just asking: How do you feel about sign stealing vs. rampant PED use during the 2000’s? Which do you think is worse? Let’s discuss.

Extra Innings

Thank you for everything, Mr. Zobrist.

They Said It

  • “Chip on our shoulder? I don’t see why we even deserve a chip on our shoulder. We didn’t make the playoffs this year. We got to go out and earn it. I think it’s on us to be the best team this year. We got the talent, but to be the best team will take us to new levels.” – Anthony Rizzo
  • “You see what everyone’s done in this room, what they’re capable of. You’ve got World Series champions in here. That doesn’t change. We all know what to do and how to get it done. It’s just being able to have a good solid foundation, which is what camp’s for.” – Kyle Schwarber
  • “I’ve had a good text exchange with KB, checking in here recently, and whether it’s the trade rumors or the grievance matter, there are no hard feelings on either side. He’s excited to report to camp later this week. He’s excited for the 2020 season… He’s looking forward to getting started and continue what’s been a great relationship.” – Theo Epstein
  • “When I speak freely, I bounce all over the place. There’s definitely an order I try to keep. I’m finding when I start, there’s a lot that comes out that I’m passionate about and start speaking to. It’s things I’ve written, and it’s on my heart, and they’ve come up in a meeting.” – David Ross

Thursday Walk Up Song

Build by The Housemartins. “It’s build a house where we can stay, add a new bit everyday.” Welcome to the David Ross era of Chicago Cubs baseball.

Oh, One Last Thing

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