The Rundown: Cubs Continue Frugal Signings, Darvish Surprised by Trade Rumors, La Russa Addresses DUI Charges

Is it facetious to suggest that, in our breathless anticipation of any significant baseball news, we become so addicted to the slightest signings or the anticipation of potential trades that we begin treat any baseball news with undeserved fervor? I think I know who would agree with that potentially flawed premise: People who patiently suffer through seasonal doldrums while quoting baseball winter’s most cherished phrase – “pitchers and catchers report in XX days.”

Breaking news that once seemed so beneath the radar that it barely received any coverage at all is perhaps the new way of doing business at Clark & Addison.  For a team that seems to need a wholesale injection of new blood, Jed Hoyer is doing a marvelous job of cleaning the gutters instead of patching the gaping holes in the team’s foundation.

So far, the biggest shocker of the offseason has been the decision to non-tender Kyle Schwarber. Since then, Hoyer and his entourage, which is still absent of a true GM, have added pitchers James Bourque and Jonathan Holder. Yesterday, the Cubs agreed to terms with infielder Matt Duffy and sidearm reliever Trevor Kelly. All four come to Chicago on non-guaranteed deals.

If Winter 2020 is starting to feel a lot like last year, that’s because it seems like this year’s signings almost identically mirror last year’s group that included Jason Kipnis, Ryan Tepera, Daniel Winkler.  The Cubs, under the presumptive mandate of team chairman Tom Ricketts, continue to gather supplies at baseball’s food banks rather than shopping the standard retail outlets. It’s as frustrating as it is bewildering for a team that should be trying to compete with the Dodgers and Nationals instead of the Pirates and Reds.

If the goal is simply to win the NL Central, why not just head to Arizona with the entirety of last year’s roster, including Schwarber? Their divisional opponents are all cutting costs while trimming the fat from their rosters, and if complacency is baseball’s newest version of Moneyball, the Cubs can sleepwalk their way to a division crown and postseason berth.

Despite the underwhelming moves so far, Hoyer still needs to find at least two starting pitchers and an outfielder just to field a complete team this spring. I suppose the Duffy deal has some potential, and Holder could be sneaky good, too, but what in the actual you-know-what is going on here?

At least give me a useless-but-still-exciting Dave Kingman-like signing. Oh wait, we had our version of the power-hitting left fielder in Schwarber.

If the Cubs are going to continue to treat guaranteed contracts like they are active hand grenades, why not just tear the whole thing down and start over? I don’t mean to sound overly entitled, especially as a last-of-the-baby-boomers fan whose high-water mark of excitement was the Herman Franks-led 1977 squad (81-81), but it’s frustrating to see a big market team spend like the Oakland A’s for the third consecutive winter. It’s enough to make me want to go all Lee Elia on Ricketts if there’s ever an owners’ panel at whenever the next CubsCon occurs.

Cubs News & Notes

Odds & Sods

A priceless Darvish thread for your morning enjoyment.

Tuesday Stove

The Mets and Blue Jays are considered the top suitors for free agent outfielder George Springer.

Toronto may also represent the biggest threat to the Yankees with regard to free agent second baseman DJ LeMahieu.

White Sox manager Tony La Russa says he doesn’t have a drinking problem, and that he “feels deep remorse and regret” over his DUI charges.

La Russa also said he embraces the competitive nature of the AL Central and is looking forward to this year’s division race.

The Reds signed a trio of relievers to minor league deals, including Cubs’ short-timer Josh Osich.

Jurickson Profar and Kiké Hernández are among baseball’s most popular middle-tier free agents.

Howie Kendrick has announced his retirement from baseball after 15 seasons.

Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow was able to channel his rage at sleazeball convicted entrepreneur Martin Shkreli into productive outings.

Extra Innings

We all should be making a push to get Buck O’Neil enshrined in Cooperstown.

They Said It

  • “I think Joe kind of started that culture with us. I think I think it makes a lot of sense that you know Kris Bryant won an MVP award and can move around the diamond and play in different spots. Javier Baez broke in (playing different positions), and there’s nothing wrong with that. I don’t think you have to be labeled as a utility guy. It gives you a better chance to get in the lineup. It probably makes you a more productive player, and eventually you kind of settle into one place.” – Jed Hoyer
  • “[Nico] Hoerner’s willingness to grow and attack any position, and his baseball I.Q. makes it really easy to have the conversation of, ‘I need you to bounce around,’ or ‘I need you to lock in it at short’ or whatever the case may be. It’s easy with a guy like that because there’s a lot of flexibility there. There’s a willingness to learn, and he’s a good baseball player.” – David Ross

Tuesday Walk Up Song

Stuck in the Middle With You by Stealers Wheel – I’m finding it incredibly difficult to see Hoyer’s vision of the 2021 Cubs so far.

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