Cubs

If Prince is smart, a deal with the Cubs is a no-brainer

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If Prince is smart, a deal with the Cubs is a no-brainer

With Albert Pujols off the free agent market, the top name left on the board is Prince Fielder, who at the age of 27, is entering what should be the prime of his career. Fielder is looking for an 8-10 year deal at roughly 25 million per season, which if he gets it puts his contract in Pujols territory.

However, while the Cubs have interest in Fielder, they are not prepared to go into 8-10 year territory when they do not believe that they are close to winning and need to put their resources into upgrading their defense and pitching staff. Fielder has interest in the Cubs but is also being courted by the Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays, Texas Rangers, and possibly the Washington Nationals.

What the Cubs offer and the others dont is the chance to be in a major market that would afford him the chance to make huge money in endorsements and raise his profile to a much larger level than it was during his time with the Milwaukee Brewers.

Imagine Fielder in a Cubs uniform playing all out and developing a love affair with the Wrigley Field faithful. His name would become a part of the total overhaul of the Cubs culture and being that he is only 27, he would be a big part of the Cubs success that Theo Epstein and Co. envision just a few years down the road.

Fielders agent, Scott Boras is known for driving up the price and the length of the contract no matter if the fit is a good one or not for his client. Yes, Alex Rodriguez signed a 252 million deal with the Rangers that was negotiated by Boras, but not too far removed from that signing, Rodriguez was on the move to the Yankees which was a much better fit for him as he was surrounded by other star players.

Fielder needs to take charge of his negotiations and while he has one of the shrewdest minds in baseball doing his bidding, he has to make sure that where he ends up is the best fit for him both in the short and long term. The best fit is on the North Side of Chicago, but unless he backs off of his demand for a ridiculously long deal it will probably never happen.

Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer have been far too quiet so far in their attempts to retool the roster and that silence has me convinced that they are waiting to see what the market for Prince Fielder becomes after the Pujols signing.

Fielders camp seems content to let the market play out. The same goes for the Cubs and their new management team. Someone needs to get the two sides into a room and convince both that the marriage is the best thing for both parties.

The Cubs needs a power bat and a guy who plays the game the right way. Fielder needs a big stage with which to explode as he enters the prime of his career. Somebody needs to make a move.

I say five years at 25 million per with a sixth year option should get it done. Cubs Nation is waiting.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Sitting down with new Cubs coaches Chili Davis and Jim Hickey

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Sitting down with new Cubs coaches Chili Davis and Jim Hickey

Spring training baseball games are up around the bend, but before the boys of summer get into organized action, two of the team’s new coaches Chili Davis and Jim Hickey sit down with Kelly Crull.

Plus, Vinnie Duber joins Kelly to discuss these baseball conversations including the memorable first words of Kyle Schwarber to Chili Davis, “I don’t suck!"

Listen to the full episode at this link (iOS users can go here) or in the embedded player below. Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Changes aren't exactly popular, but Cubs and Sox — except maybe Willson Contreras — will adapt to baseball's new pace-of-play rules

Changes aren't exactly popular, but Cubs and Sox — except maybe Willson Contreras — will adapt to baseball's new pace-of-play rules

MESA, Ariz. — We know Willson Contreras doesn’t like baseball’s new pace-of-play rules.

He isn’t the only one.

“I think it’s a terrible idea. I think it’s all terrible,” Jon Lester said last week at spring training, before the specifics of the new rules were even announced. “The beautiful thing about our sport is there’s no time.”

Big surprise coming from the Cubs’ resident old-schooler.

The new rules limit teams to six mound visits per every nine-inning game, with exceptions for pitching changes, between batters, injuries and after the announcement of a pinch hitter. Teams get an extra mound visit for every extra inning in extra-inning games. Also, commercial breaks between innings have been cut by 20 seconds.

That’s it. But it’s caused a bit of an uproar.

Contreras made headlines Tuesday when he told reporters that he’ll willingly break those rules if he needs to in order to put his team in a better position to win.

“I’ve been reading a lot about this rule, and I don’t really care. If I have to pay the price for my team, I will,” Contreras said. “There’s six mound visits, but what if you have a tight game? … You have to go out there. They cannot say anything about that. It’s my team, and we just care about winning. And if they’re going to fine me about the No. 7 mound visit, I’ll pay the price.”

Talking about pace-of-play rule changes last week, Cubs manager Joe Maddon said his team would adapt to any new rules. In Chicago baseball’s other Arizona camp, a similar tune of adaptation was being sung.

“Obviously as players we’ve got to make adjustments to whatever rules they want to implement,” White Sox pitcher James Shields said. “This is a game of adjustments, we’re going to have to make adjustments as we go. We’re going to have to figure out logistics of the thing, and I would imagine in spring training we’re going to be talking about it more and more as we go so we don’t mess it up.”

There was general consensus that mound visits are a valuable thing. So what happens if a pitcher and catcher need to communicate but are forced to do it from 60 feet, six inches away?

“Sign language,” White Sox catching prospect Zack Collins joked. “I guess you have to just get on the same page in the dugout and hope that nothing goes wrong if you’re out of visits.”

In the end, here’s the question that needs answering: Are baseball games really too long?

On one hand, as Lester argued, you know what you’re signing up for when you watch a baseball game, be it in the stands at a ballpark or on TV. No one should be shocked when a game rolls on for more than three hours.

But shock and fans' levels of commitment or just pure apathy are two different things. And sometimes it’s a tough ask for fans to dedicate four hours of their day 162 times a year. So there’s a very good reason baseball is trying to make the game go faster, to keep people from leaving the stands or flipping the TV to another channel.

Unsurprisingly, Lester would rather keep things the way they are.

“To be honest with you, the fans know what they’re getting themselves into when they go to a game,” Lester said. “It’s going to be a three-hour game. You may have a game that’s two hours, two hours and 15 minutes. Great, awesome. You may have a game that’s four hours. That’s the beautiful part of it.

“I get the mound visit thing. But what people that aren’t in the game don’t understand is that there’s so much technology in the game, there’s so many cameras on the field, that every stadium now has a camera on the catcher’s crotch. So they know signs before you even get there. Now we’ve got Apple Watches, now we’ve got people being accused of sitting in a tunnel (stealing signs). So there’s reasons behind the mound visit. He’s not just coming out there asking what time I’m going to dinner or, ‘Hey, how you feeling?’ There’s reasons behind everything, and I think if you take those away, it takes away the beauty of the baseball game.

“Every game has a flow, and I feel like that’s what makes it special. If you want to go to a timed event, go to a timed event. I’m sorry I’m old-school about it, but baseball’s been played the same way for a long time. And now we’re trying to add time to it. We’re missing something somewhere.”

Whether limiting the number of mound visits creates a significant dent in this problem remains to be seen. But excuse the players if they’re skeptical.

“We’ve got instant replay, we’ve got all kinds of different stuff going on. I don’t think (limiting) the mound visits are going to be the key factor to speeding this game up,” Shields said. “Some pitchers take too long, and some hitters take too long. It’s combination of a bunch of stuff.

“I know they’re trying to speed the game up a little bit. I think overall, the game’s going as fast as it possibly could. You’ve got commercials and things like that. TV has a lot to do with it. There’s a bunch of different combinations of things. But as a player, we’ve got to make an adjustment.”