Cubs

Cubs re-thinking stance on FielderPujols sweepstakes?

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Cubs re-thinking stance on FielderPujols sweepstakes?

OK, now the Cubs may be in on the Prince FielderAlbert Pujols sweepstakes. But not for the reasons you would think.

Yes, the two first basemen are elite sluggers and impact players. However, because of the new collective bargaining agreement just reached last week, the Cubs are acknowledging that the road to building the team from within will be a lot tougher, according to FoxSports' Jon Paul Morosi and Ken Rosenthal.

The new CBA is placing new restrictions on spending in the amateur draft and since teams lock up their big-time bats earlier in the player's career, Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer are apparently acknowledging the road to building the team back to sustained success is harder.

Which is why the two have suddenly changed their mind on pursuing Fielder and Pujols. Allegedly.

Rosenthal and Morosi are citing their major-league sources on all this. It's possible Theo is just leaking word of this to those "sources" to let the rest of the league know the new Cubs' front office is for real and they're ready to turn things around immediately.

Or maybe it's completely true and the new brass on the North Side really has changed their stance on pursuing one of the sluggers.

So which one will it be?

RosenthalMorosi state "sources" (there's that word again) think the Cubs are more interested in Pujols who, despite his age (3 years older than Fielder), is a better defender and in better physical condition than Fielder, whose body type is one of the major concerns for bidders.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I am still of the opinion neither guy signs with the Cubs. The idea Theo and Hoyer have is sustained success. They want to be like the Cardinals (three World Series appearances in the past decade). Not like the Cubs under Jim Hendry who threw a boatload of money at guys like Alfonso Soriano in an effort to just get over the hump and appear in even one World Series. Now how's that Soriano contract looking?

Stay tuned, as if Rosenthal and Morosi are right, this could become a big saga, especially with the Winter Meetings next week in Dallas.

Cubs officially hire Jim Hickey as pitching coach, fill other coaching vacancies

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USA TODAY

Cubs officially hire Jim Hickey as pitching coach, fill other coaching vacancies

Joe Maddon's 2018 coaching staff came into focus Tuesday, with the Cubs officially announcing three moves.

The Cubs made Jim Hickey the team's pitching coach, making official what has been assumed for a while, that Maddon's former pitching coach with the Tampa Bay Rays would take over for Chris Bosio on the North Side.

Additionally, Brandon Hyde was moved from his role as the team's first base coach to become Maddon's bench coach, taking over for Dave Martinez, who is the new manager of the Washington Nationals.

And the Cubs announced that Will Venable will be the new first base coach after he was recently named a special assistant to president Theo Epstein and general manager Jed Hoyer.

Hickey, a Chicago native, spent the past 11 seasons as the Rays' pitching coach, presiding over a litany of young arms during and after Maddon's tenure as the manager there, including James Shields, Matt Garza, David Price, Chris Archer and Alex Cobb. Hickey was the pitching coach for a pair of World Series teams: the 2005 Houston Astros and the 2008 Rays.

Hickey's relationship with Cobb could be of particular interest this offseason, as the free-agent pitcher could be a target for the Cubs' front office.

Hyde has served as the Cubs' bench coach before, filling the role on Rick Renteria's staff in 2014. He spent the past three seasons as Maddon's first base coach, part of a staff that appeared in three straight National League Championship Series and won the 2016 World Series.

Venable spent nine seasons in the major leagues, wrapping up his playing career in 2016 after playing for the San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers and Los Angeles Dodgers.

In addition to these moves to lock in Maddon's coaching staff, the Cubs also announced the addition of Jim Benedict as a special assistant. Benedict was most recently the vice president of pitching development for the Miami Marlins and has also worked for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees.

If you can't wait for baseball to be back, take a look at the Cubs' spring training schedule

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USA TODAY

If you can't wait for baseball to be back, take a look at the Cubs' spring training schedule

Set your alarm, there are only three more months till baseball is back.

The Cubs announced their spring training schedule Monday, getting folks all amped up for the 34 exhibition games in February and March.

Spring game action gets started Feb. 23 out in Arizona, with the Cubs taking on the Milwaukee Brewers to kick off Cactus League play. The Cubs' first home spring game at Sloan Park in Mesa comes the next day, Feb. 24.

In addition to a 32-game Cactus League slate, the Cubs will take on the Cleveland Indians in a pair of exhibition games in Las Vegas. That 2016 World Series rematch comes March 17 and 18.

And of course, there will be three meetings with the White Sox, as both Chicago teams play their spring schedule out in Arizona. Those "Cactus Crosstown" games will be played Feb. 27 and March 10 in Mesa and March 16 in Glendale.

Here's the full schedule: