Cubs

Dusty to Sveum: Good luck, youll need it

700270.png

Dusty to Sveum: Good luck, youll need it

MESA, Ariz. It will take years before Theo Epsteins scouting and player development machine is up and running.

The buzz the Cubs generated with this hire will eventually wear off and everyone will see just how patient the fans will be with a rebuilding project.

Patience is a real virtue here, Dusty Baker said Monday. Theyve been patient for a hundred years. Thats a hard sell in Chicago more patience. They might be patient for a little while, but unlike any other place Ive been, people count. They can add real good in Chicago. Everybody men, women and children.

Thats a century and counting since winning the World Series, which has made this job so appealing, frustrating and disappointing. The Cubs are on their third manager in the past 19 months. The Cincinnati Reds manager gets asked about and compared to each one.

Baker once had the Cubs five outs away from the 2003 National League pennant. Baker likes Dale Sveum, wishes him luck and wants to beat him 16 times this season.

Sveum believes this job is different, but only to a certain point. He says its nothing he hasnt really seen before after wearing a New York Yankees uniform and coaching alongside Terry Francona with the Boston Red Sox.

The history and all that goes along with Chicago and the Cubs, Sveum said, of course its different than managing some small markets. Theres no question about it. Thats the way it is here and in Boston and New York and the big markets. Theres no doubt its different.

Theres more media. Theres more scrutinizing. Theres going to be the second-guessing of everything. Theres going to be all that. Its nothing you dont know. Its not like Ive never been in a big market before. You know what all goes on.

Sveum can be blunt, his voice is monotone and he doesnt appear to have any nervous energy. Hes about to find out what life is like inside the Wrigley Field fishbowl.

It depends on how they do, Baker said. You got to wait awhile before you make that assessment. Give him a couple years. He might say the same things.

Baker had just guided the San Francisco Giants to the 2002 World Series when he moved to the North Side. He had been a big-league manager for the previous 10 seasons, and played almost two decades in the majors. He still didnt quite know what he was getting into (the same could be said for Lou Piniella).

The national anthem is my favorite time of the day, Baker said. During those three hours, the games the same. The difference is what happens and whats entailed before the game and after the game. Thats the difference and the vibes that you get, positively and negatively, from everything involved.

Baker pushed the right buttons as the Cubs won the division in 2003. The Bartman Game jacked up expectations, but the team slowly spiraled downward. A last-place finish in 2006 got Baker fired and triggered a huge Tribune Co. shopping spree.

In 04, we kind of stood pat and even subtracted, Baker said. We didnt reload. That would have been the time to reload when youre getting close. They reloaded after I left. That was the only regret.

Epstein says the Cubs are going to be a sustainable organization, not a team that gets lucky one year and then disappears. There will be growing pains to get there. The president of baseball operations recognized in Sveum some of the same qualities he once saw in Francona.

It sounds like Sveum plans to be more insulated from the media than Piniella or Mike Quade, who seemed to want to take the pulse of the city. Sveum isnt on Twitter, doesnt follow blogs and wont listen to talk radio.

I dont do anything like that now, so Im not going to start, Sveum said. Basically, all I know how to do is get on the Internet and check scores on my phone and e-mail a little bit. But Im not searching out articles. To me, that doesnt even make sense why you would read good or bad (stuff). Obviously, we know theres going to be more bad than good, so its kind of irrelevant to look at (that).

I got better things to do than seek out articles on myself or the team. Im living the team the nine innings every single night. (I) dont have to look to find out what somebody else thinks. I know whats going on.

Welcome to Chicago, where everyone questions about the lineup, little things become big news and the interview room feels like a dungeon. Just ask Baker.

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

1120_anthony_rizzo.jpg
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:

What if Jake Arrieta stays in the NL Central and repeatedly haunts the Cubs?

What if Jake Arrieta stays in the NL Central and repeatedly haunts the Cubs?

Jake Arrieta in a Brewers uniform?

That's not a sight Cubs fans would like to see, but the North Siders' I-94 rivals are apparently keen on trying to add Arrieta, the free-agent pitcher who's been one of the National League's top arms for the past several seasons.

The Cubs have their own decision to make on whether or not they're going to pursue re-signing Arrieta, a guy who over the past three seasons has posted a 2.71 ERA and struck out 589 batters, winning 54 games in 94 starts for a team that won the 2016 World Series and has advanced to three consecutive NL Championship Series.

The downside to losing Arrieta is obvious, as the Cubs would lose a huge part of their formidable starting rotation, but there would be an added downside if Arrieta were to remain in the NL Central and repeatedly haunt his former team.

Given Arrieta's track record, adding him would make sense for any team in the majors, but the Brewers in particular could use a front-of-the-line starting pitcher to boost their chances of besting the Cubs for the Central crown. The Brew Crew staged a surprising threat to do just that in 2017, perhaps proving that their rebuilding effort has yielded fruit ahead of schedule.

But there are questions in that rotation, with Jimmy Nelson expected to miss time next season after having shoulder surgery. Chase Anderson was great last season, and Zach Davies was solid, too. Brewers starters posted an ERA of 4.10 on the season, good for fifth in the NL. The four teams ahead of them, including the Cubs, all made the playoffs. Adding an arm as good as Arrieta's could make the difference in jumping past the Cubs in the Central and getting the Crew to the postseason for the first time since 2011.

And it'd be a plus for the Brewers to make it so Arrieta couldn't shut down their hitters anymore. In 15 career starts against the Crew, Arrieta is 8-4 with a 2.74 ERA. However, they'd surely love to have him call Miller Park home. He's never lost there in five starts, boasting a 2.03 ERA with 30 strikeouts.

There's an argument to be made that Arrieta would be able to seek revenge on the Cubs no matter what team he ends up pitching for, be it an NL team facing off against the Cubs in the playoffs or an American League squad meeting the Cubs in the World Series. After all, as Scott Boras put it, signing Arrieta is a ticket to "Playoffville."

But should Arrieta make the short drive to Wisconsin and set up shop in America's Dairyland, turning the Brewers into a legitimate playoff contender and challenger to the Cubs' grip on the NL Central crown? Well, consider the Cubs-Brewers rivalry cranked up to 11.