After winning Cy Young, Arrieta says Cubs would love to have Greinke


After winning Cy Young, Arrieta says Cubs would love to have Greinke

In the middle of November, Cubs fans can dream about Jake Arrieta and Zack Greinke at the top of their rotation next year.

“I would assume that a phone call might be made, at least,” Arrieta said. “We’d love to have him.”

Arrieta punctuated a dream season by becoming the National League Cy Young winner, making the Cubs 3-for-3 during awards week after Kris Bryant (Rookie of the Year) and Joe Maddon (Manager of the Year) took their turns in the spotlight.

But Arrieta might have been the MVP for a 97-win team, going 22-6 with a 1.77 ERA and putting together the best second half for a pitcher in major-league history.

That convinced the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, which released its voting results on Wednesday night, honoring Arrieta over a pair of aces for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

[MORE: Maddon ready to help Cubs recruit free agents]

Arrieta finished with 17 of 30 first-place votes to win by a 22-point margin over Greinke, a pitcher the Cubs have been linked to in free agency after another spectacularly efficient season (19-3, 1.66 ERA) that suggests he will age well over the course of a megadeal. 

“Greinke is a guy that any team would be lucky to have,” Arrieta said. “He’s going to be a commodity that a lot of teams are looking to add to their rotation. Just watching from the other side for a number of years, seeing what he’s been able to do, year-in and year-out, is very admirable. Any team that doesn’t at least make a phone call would be foolish."

The Cubs met with the agents for Greinke (Casey Close) and Arrieta (Scott Boras) during last week’s general managers meetings in South Florida.

President of baseball operations Theo Epstein has said the Cubs will test the waters with Boras this winter to find out what it would take to put together a long-term deal for Arrieta, who remains under club control for two more seasons and is projected to make $10.6 million next year (according to MLB Trade Rumors calculations done before the Cy Young victory).

[SHOP: Get your Jake Arrieta gear here]

“It’s a definite possibility,” Arrieta said. “As time goes on, it’s inevitable (we’ll talk about the future). I don’t think that there’s a tremendous amount of angst on my part to get something done immediately. But that doesn’t mean that something can’t happen.

“Really, my focus right now is that obviously I know I’m still with the Chicago Cubs. I couldn’t be more excited and happy for the opportunities that we’re going to have as a team in the future.

“We’ll address it. We’ll talk things over. And if it doesn’t (happen), then I’m still a Chicago Cub, regardless. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see where things go in the near future.”

This underlines what an unbelievable year it had been for pitching in the NL: Clayton Kershaw – a three-time Cy Young winner who went 16-7 with a 2.13 ERA and 301 strikeouts – finished a distant third in the voting.

[RELATED: Boras discusses Jake Arrieta's future with the Cubs]

Arrieta made his mark with a no-hitter on national television at Dodger Stadium, and then showing up for the press conference in a moustache-covered onesie for a Maddon theme trip, all part of an unreal run after the All-Star break (12-1, 0.75 ERA) that finally established him as one of the most dominant pitchers in the game after a rocky start to his career with the Baltimore Orioles.

“I was locked in,” Arrieta said. “My timing and my tempo in my delivery was as close to perfect as I feel like I could have possibly been.

“When you combine that timing and the consistent release point, regardless of the pitch – fastball, slider, cutter, curveball, changeup – (you’re) able to be powerful and be explosive and release from the exact same spot.

“It really, really made it easy on me. There were times throughout the stretch where I expected to go out there and throw a shutout or throw seven, eight scoreless. It got to that point where that was just something – not only myself – but the team expected it. That’s how locked in I really was.”

Arrieta spent time on the Triple-A level during the 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013 seasons, needing a change of scenery for whatever reason – the difficulty of pitching in the American League East, some friction between Dan Duquette’s front office and Buck Showalter’s dugout, an awkward clubhouse fit.

That flip deal in the middle of the 2013 season – essentially cashing in 15 Scott Feldman starts and reserve catcher Steve Clevenger for Arrieta and hard-throwing reliever Pedro Strop – will go down as a franchise-altering trade for Epstein’s front office.

“Once I was able to not worry about the moves happening above me,” Arrieta said, “or when I was going to get another opportunity, I understood that the most important thing for me to put emphasis on was just continuing to try and get better.”

The Cubs encouraged Arrieta to throw with his natural crossfire motion, gave him an opportunity to hit the reset button and watched him develop a fanatical workout routine.

Arrieta clicked with pitching coach Chris Bosio, obsessed over his nutrition and absorbed all the scouting reports, allowing him to throw almost 250 innings this year, including the playoffs.

Arrieta is now only the fifth pitcher in franchise history to win this award, joining an elite list that includes Greg Maddux (1992), Rick Sutcliffe (1984), Bruce Sutter (1979) and Fergie Jenkins (1971).

Now that Arrieta has that kind of juice, you figure Greinke will have to listen if the 2015 NL Cy Young Award winner calls.

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

A series to forget: Facts and figures from Cubs' rough weekend in Cincinnati

The Cubs and their fans may want to invent and use one of those Men In Black neuralyzers because the four-game series in Cincinnati was one to forget.

The Reds finished off a four-game sweep of the Cubs on Sunday with an 8-6 win. The way the Reds won the finale will be especially painful for the Cubs considering they led 6-1 after six innings. Mike Montgomery appeared to tire in the seventh inning and Pedro Strop got rocked out of the bullpen to lead to a seven-run seventh for the hosts.

The Reds have now won seven in a row and 10 of 12, but still sit 13 games under .500. Bizarrely, the Reds also swept the Dodgers, the Cubs’ next opponent, in a four-game series in May. Duane Underwood will start for the Cubs Monday against the Dodgers and make his major league debut.

Here are some other wild facts and figures from the series:

  • The last time the Reds swept the Cubs in a four-game series was back in 1983. That was the first week of the season and three weeks before the infamous Lee Elia rant.
  • One positive for the Cubs from the game was Montgomery’s start. Through six innings he allowed one run on three hits and two walks. However, he gave up a single, a double and a single in the seventh before Strop relieved him. Montgomery had gone six innings and allowed one run in each of his last four outings.
  • Strop was definitely a negative. On his first pitch, Strop gave up a home run to pinch-hitter Jesse Winker, the second home run for a Reds pinch-hitter in the game. Then Strop allowed a single, a walk, a single and a double before getting an out. Strop’s final line: 2/3 inning pitched, four runs, one strikeout, three walks, four hits.
  • The Cubs led in three of the four games this series, including two leads after five innings.
  • The Cubs were 5-for-23 (.217) with runners in scoring position in the series. On the season the Cubs are hitting .233 with RISP, which is 22nd in the majors and fourth-worst in the National League (but ahead of the division-rival Brewers and Cardinals).
  • The Reds outscored the Cubs 31-13 and scored at least six runs in every game. The Reds are now 6-3 against the Cubs this year after going a combined 17-40 against the Cubs from 2015-2017.

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 31st homer in 1998

Summer of Sammy: Sosa's 31st homer in 1998

It's the 20th anniversary of the Summer of Sammy, when Sosa and Mark McGwire went toe-to-toe in one of the most exciting seasons in American sports history chasing after Roger Maris' home run record. All year, we're going to go homer-by-homer on Sosa's 66 longballs, with highlights and info about each. Enjoy.

Sosa's 18th homer of June and 31st of the season came off the Tigers in the Cubs' brief 2-game Interleague series in Detroit. 

Sosa connected in the first inning off Tigers starter Seth Greisinger, going back-to-back with Mickey Morandini. 

The Cubs wound up getting out to a 5-0 start in the game but still lost 7-6 on a Gabe Alvarez single in the bottom of the 11th.

The aforementioned Morandini homer was only the 3rd of the season for the Cubs second baseman. He finished with 8 homers on the year and 224 total bases on 172 hits in what was a very good offensive season. Yet it paled in comparison to Sosa, who had nearly 200 more total bases (416) and a slugging percentage nearly 200 points above Morandini's (.647 to .471), a testament to how truly incredible Sosa's season was.

Fun fact: Tony Clark was the Tigers' cleanup hitter that day. Clark is now the head of the MLB Players Union.

Fun fact No. 2: Paul Bako was the Detroit catcher in the game. He later became the Cubs backup catcher in 2003 and 2004, when he posted a .611 OPS in 119 games over the two years.