In new world for Cubs, Ben Zobrist explains why he wasn’t trolling Cardinals  

In new world for Cubs, Ben Zobrist explains why he wasn’t trolling Cardinals  

ST. LOUIS – Ben Zobrist is too diplomatic to completely troll the St. Louis Cardinals – and too honest to pretend that celebrating at Busch Stadium wouldn’t mean something for a Cubs organization that for so long had been Little Brother in this lopsided rivalry.

Zobrist gave the Cardinal clubhouse bulletin-board material – and moved the needle for the St. Louis media – heading into the last week of the regular season when he said: “We intend to clinch there. And I think for a lot of the guys that have been around here for a long time, it’s going to be very satisfying.”

First reaction: Wow. Second reaction: Obviously (when the Cubs are about to play a four-game series against their archrivals and the magic number to eliminate both the Cardinals and Milwaukee Brewers from the division race had dropped to two).

But Zobrist gets it as someone who grew up in downstate Illinois. This is a self-made, super-utility player with a World Series ring from the 2015 Kansas City Royals and a 50th anniversary edition convertible Camaro for last year’s World Series MVP performance. Between his age (36) and his natural personality, Zobrist doesn’t treat each interview like a chore and suspiciously view every question as a trap.

“It’s really nothing personal,” Zobrist said Wednesday night amid the champagne-and-beer celebration, just before Jon Lester toasted John Lackey and broke the retirement story. “I would have said that no matter where we were going.

“But I do think it’s extra special to be able to do it here – for a lot of Cubs fans (who) for a long, long time haven’t experienced a lot of winning in this particular city. For those guys that have been in the organization for a long time, too, I know it means a little bit more.

“I’ve only been here for two years, so I can’t quite understand that the way those guys can. But they’ve expressed that to us. And this means something extra special for those people.”

Zobrist is also the type of guy who shook hands, signed autographs and took pictures with the fans who swarmed his North Center home and lined up around the block – hours after the Cubs flew back from Cleveland after beating the Indians in last year’s epic World Series Game 7.

“We know that the fans are even more pumped, I’m sure, about (clinching in St. Louis) than those of us in this room,” Zobrist said. “We appreciate our fans. We know that they’re very loyal and very passionate about this ballclub. Definitely we know that some of them are celebrating just as much as we are today.”     

Going for a personal three-peat, Zobrist’s regular season reflected the 2017 Cubs as a whole, from the slow start to the nagging injuries to the strong finish to the enormous sense of confidence heading into October.   

“We feel excited for another opportunity to make a push in the postseason and to defend our title,” Zobrist said. “But we’re going to celebrate this. This is a huge accomplishment, a big step. It’s a very, very long season, and we’re going to celebrate this tonight because it needs to be.

“It’s a lot of work just to get to this point. And a lot of teams haven’t been able to do that after winning the previous year. But now it’s just adrenaline, baby. Let’s get it going.”

Cubs Talk Podcast: Jed Hoyer breaks down Cubs renovated pitching staff


Cubs Talk Podcast: Jed Hoyer breaks down Cubs renovated pitching staff

Between more power in the rotation and more strike-throwing in the bullpen, the Cubs were decisive in how they wanted to remake their pitching staff entering the 2018 season.

GM Jed Hoyer sits down with David Kaplan to explain the thought process of the front office over the winter.

Take a listen here or in the embedded player below. 

Where does the Cubs lineup rank in MLB?


Where does the Cubs lineup rank in MLB?

It's that time of the year — a week out from Opening Day where all the predictions and rankings come through.

The latest coming through the baseball world is's Anthony Castrovince creating a list of the Top 10 lineups in baseball in 2018.

The Cubs come up lower than I expected — sitting sixth.

Here are Castrovince's rankings:

1. Houston Astros
2. New York Yankees
3. Washington Nationals
4. Boston Red Sox
5. Cleveland Indians
6. Chicago Cubs
7. Los Angeles Dodgers
8. Minnesota Twins
9. St. Louis Cardinals
10. Oakland A's

We broke down our own rankings of the Top 10 lineups in Major League Baseball:

Here's how I would rank the top lineups:

1. Houston Astros
2. Washington Nationals
3. Chicago Cubs
4. New York Yankees
5. Cleveland Indians
6. Boston Red Sox
7. Arizona Diamondbacks
8. Milwaukee Brewers
9. St. Louis Cardinals
10. Minnesota Twins

The Astros should be atop everybody's list.

The Nationals may actually be an underrated powerhouse offense, even with Daniel Murphy currently injured. Once he returns, you're looking at probably the best 1-6 of any lineup in baseball with Adam Eaton and Trea Turner (two premier leadoff-type hitters) setting the table for Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon and Murphy (three MVP candidates) and Ryan Zimmerman cleaning things up.

The Cubs may not have the sheer strength and power of the Yankees, but the Chicago lineup is deeper and more well-rounded. Regardless of who leads off and who plays on a given day, this Cubs team will batter opposing pitchers on a nightly basis and feature what very well could be three MVP candidates — Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Willson Contreras.

The Yankees would see a boost here if Brett Gardner shows no signs of aging at 34 and Greg Bird finally stays healthy.

The Indians are stacked, but don't quite boast as much depth 1-9 as the other lineups ahead of them with Tyler Naquin, Roberto Perez and Bradley Zimmer projected to make up the bottom-third of the order.

The Red Sox feature a dynamic young core despite a lineup that is coming off something of a down 2017 campaing. Adding J.D. Martinez to the mix is an incredible boost, as is a full season of phenom Rafael Devers.

The Diamondbacks have Paul Goldschmidt and a few question marks — including how the new humidor will affect the way the ball jumps in the dry Arizona heat. 

With new additions like Lorenzo Cain and former Marlins outfielders Christian Yelich and Marcell Ozuna, the Cubs' main division rivals (Brewers, Cardinals) see a jump in lineup rankings.

The Dodgers are noticably absent given the injury to Justin Turner. Without him anchoring the order for the first month or so, this lineup absolutely needs Chris Taylor to turn in a repeat performance after a breakout 2017.