Cubs

Predicting the nicknames Cubs players will wear on new MLB jerseys

Predicting the nicknames Cubs players will wear on new MLB jerseys

Yahoo's Jeff Passan dropped a bomb of sorts Wednesday evening, saying Major League Baseball will actually relax their uniform rules for one weekend in August (25-27).

That's huge because the league has typically been very buttoned-up (pun intended) on teams' uniforms and instead of a very stingy set of guidelines, players will be able to wear jerseys with nicknames on the backs, boast fluorescent-colored shoes or wear a personalized patch to pay tribute to someone instrumental in their development.

The league sent around a memo and is calling the event "Players Weekend," allowing the game's stars to show their personalities on the field. The Cubs will be in Philadelphia taking on the Phillies that weekend. 

The loud-colored shoes and patches are cool and all, but let's be honest: The nicknames will be the best part for fans. (It will also be the best part for MLB as they can easily sell the jerseys and shirseys with the nicknames on it as a way to rake in bonus cash.)

Will somebody use "HE HATE ME" like the XFL star? How many baseball movie references will there be like "Willie Mays Hayes" or "The Rocket"?

Let's try to predict what nicknames the Cubs players will have on their uniforms (working with the current roster since we can't predict the future as awesome as that would be):

Jake Arrieta - "The Body"

Rationale: "Jake the Snake" is kinda lame. Let's say he goes with "The Body" after his nude appearance in ESPN's body issue.

Eddie Butler - "Big Red" 

Rationale: He's got red hair (though he is only 6-foot-2).

Wade Davis - "Beethoven" 

Rationale: The Cubs closer used to listen to Beethoven before games and the quiet, calm veteran is also not exactly a "Hell's Bells" or "Rage Against the Machine" kinda guy.

Brian Duensing - "Duenston Checks In" 

Rationale: After that sweet '90s movie with Jason Alexander.

Carl Edwards Jr. - "String Bean Slinger

Rationale: "CJ" is too easy and lame. "String Bean Slinger" is Edwards' former Twitter handle, so let's throw that on there.

Justin Grimm - "The Grimm Reaper" 

Rationale: I mean, duhhh.

John Lackey - "Blue" 

Rationale: Of the "You're my boy, Blue!" fame in "Old School." Lackey is the oldest player on the Cubs not named Koji, he may have actually written baseball's old-school "unwritten rules" and the Cubs' color is blue.

Jon Lester - "Big Game Jon"

Rationale: He stole it from his buddy Lackey after his reputation as a clutch performer and had an epic 2016 postseason with the Cubs, shutting down the Giants in Game 1 of the NLDS, winning co-NLCS MVP and then coming up huge in relief in Game 7 of the World Series.

Mike Montgomery - "Accidental Closer"

Rationale: Let's be honest, it will probably be "Monty." We just wanted to get a bit more creative with the 6-foot-5 lefty who picked up his first professional save by getting the final out of the World Series.

Hector Rondon - "Carlos Rodon"

Rationale: How many casual fans confuse these two guys based on last name alone?

Pedro Strop - "Full Tilt"

Rationale: Strop never wears his hat straight and draws a ton of completely unwarranted hate because of it. It would be hilarious to draw attention to that fact for three days.

Koji Uehara - "Doc"

Rationale: He's old and he throws slow.

Willson Contreras - "Castaway"

Rationale: It will almost assuredly be "Willy" but that's too easy because we feel like people refer to him more as "Willy" than "Willson" anyways. So we just went with a "WILLSON!!!" reference.

Miguel Montero - "Captain America"

Rationale: Again, it will be "Miggy," but we wanted to pay tribute to Montero's hard work for gaining American citizenship, passing a test he joked most of his teammates couldn't pass (we couldn't either).

Javy Baez - "Bubble Boy"

Rationale: Javy has more flair than almost anybody in baseball and maybe his best moment ever was when he dropped the bubble gum in San Francisco but caught it and pointed at the camera, oozing with swag.

Kris Bryant - "Sparkle"

Rationale: There's no point in even trying to deny his dreamy blue eyes. 

Ian Happ - "Baby Zo"

Rationale: He's the young version of Ben Zobrist, right?

Anthony Rizzo - "THE GREATEST LEADOFF HITTER EVER"

Rationale: In all caps. Has to be in all caps.

Addison Russell - "Addyshack"

Rationale: You know, like Caddyshack?

Ben Zobrist - "Zorilla"

Rationale: Has. To. Be.

Albert Almora Jr. - "Not-so-fat Albert"

Rationale: We're out of creative juices, sorry.

Jason Heyward - "Reign Man"

Rationale: We wanted to have more fun than just "J-Hey" and wanted to pay tribute to the awesome CSN feature on Heyward's legendary Game 7 rain delay meeting.

Jon Jay - "The Sixth Man" or "Sidekick"

Rationale: Joe Maddon has had a lot of money quotes about Jay this season, comparing him to a good sixth man in basketball based on his talent off the bench and the Cubs manager saying he would adopt Jay as a son or a sidekick because he loves the veteran outfielder so much. 

Kyle Schwarber - America's Large Adult Son

Rationale: Don't even try to pretend like you don't get the reference.

Offseason of change begins with Cubs firing pitching coach Chris Bosio

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USA TODAY

Offseason of change begins with Cubs firing pitching coach Chris Bosio

"Of course," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said in the middle of the National League Championship Series — he would like his coaches back in 2018. Pitching coach Chris Bosio told the team's flagship radio station this week that the staff expected to return next year. President of baseball operations Theo Epstein didn't go that far during Friday afternoon's end-of-season news conference at Wrigley Field, but he did say: "Rest assured, Joe will have every coach back that he wants back."

That's Cub: USA Today columnist Bob Nightengale first reported Saturday morning that Bosio had been fired, a source confirming the team declined a club contract option for next year and made a major influence on the Wrigleyville rebuild a free agent. Epstein and Bosio did not immediately respond to text messages and the club has not officially outlined the shape of the 2018 coaching staff.

Those exit meetings on Friday at Wrigley Field are just the beginning of an offseason that could lead to sweeping changes, with the Cubs looking to replace 40 percent of their rotation, identify an established closer (whether or not that's Wade Davis), find another leadoff option and maybe break up their World Series core of hitters to acquire pitching. 

The obvious candidate to replace Bosio is Jim Hickey, Maddon's longtime pitching coach with the Tampa Bay Rays who has Chicago roots and recently parted ways with the small-market franchise that stayed competitive by consistently developing young arms like David Price and Chris Archer.

Of course, Maddon denied that speculation during an NLCS where the Los Angeles Dodgers dominated the Cubs in every phase of the game and the manager's bullpen decisions kept getting second-guessed.

Bosio has a big personality and strong opinions that rocked the boat at times, but he brought instant credibility as an accomplished big-league pitcher who helped implement the team's sophisticated game-planning system.

Originally a Dale Sveum hire for the 2012 season/Epstein regime Year 1 where the Cubs lost 101 games, Bosio helped coach up and market short-term assets like Ryan Dempster, Scott Feldman, Matt Garza and Jeff Samardzija. 

Those win-later trades combined with Bosio's expertise led to a 2016 major-league ERA leader (Kyle Hendricks) and a 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner (Jake Arrieta) plus setup guys Pedro Strop and Carl Edwards Jr. and All-Star shortstop Addison Russell.

Bosio helped set the foundation for the group that won last year's World Series and has made three consecutive trips to the NLCS. But as the Cubs are going to find out this winter, there is a shelf life to everything, even for those who made their mark during a golden age of baseball on the North Side.

Report: Cubs fire pitching coach Chris Bosio after six seasons with team

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USA TODAY

Report: Cubs fire pitching coach Chris Bosio after six seasons with team

In Theo Epstein's end of season press conference on Friday he said that any coach Joe Maddon wants back will return in 2018.

Evidently, there's one coach Maddon didn't want back.

According to USA Today's Bob Nightengale, the Cubs have fired longtime pitching coach Chris Bosio.

Bosio served as the Cubs pitching coach from 2012-17. He was the team's pitching coach under former managers' Dale Sveum (2012-13) and Rick Renteria (2014), and was retained when Maddon was hired as manager of the Cubs in 2015.

Bosio, who is one of the most respected pitching coaches in baseball, was instrumental in the career resurgence of Jake Arrieta who captured the Cy Young award in 2015, and the development of 27-year-old starter Kyle Hendricks (MLB's ERA leader in 2016).

One reason that could've led to Bosio's firing was the pitching staff's control issues during both the regular season and postseason, which Epstein mentioned during Friday's press conference. The Cubs issued the fifth-most walks (554) in the National League during the regular season and the highest total (53) during the postseason.

As the Cubs hit the market for a new pitching coach, Nightengale mentioned that one name that could be on the radar is former Tampa Rays pitching coach Jim Hickey, who parted ways with the organization following the 2017 season.

Hickey served as Maddon's pitching coach in Tampa Bay from 2006-2014.