Cubs

CSN to carry two-straight hours of live "2017 Cubs Convention" opening night coverage on Friday, January 13 beginning at 5p

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CSN to carry two-straight hours of live "2017 Cubs Convention" opening night coverage on Friday, January 13 beginning at 5p

5:00 PM on CSN & CSN+ -- Special edition of “SportsTalk Live” from Cubs Convention - hosted by David Kaplan, featuring a panel of Cubs experts, and specials guests!

5:30 PM on CSN+ & CSNChicago.com -- 90-minute LIVE Cubs Convention “Opening Ceremonies” coverage - hosted by David Kaplan, featuring CSN Cubs beat reporter Kelly Crull and CSNChicago.com Cubs “Insider” Patrick Mooney, along with live interviews with numerous Cubs players, coaches, and front office execs!

Complete Convention coverage throughout the weekend on CSNChicago.com’s ‘CubsTalk’ section via reports from Kaplan, Crull, Mooney, and Cubs digital reporter Tony Andracki, which will include even more player/coaches/front office interviews, along with panel discussion highlights and much more!

Social media highlights on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat to include the latest Convention news, live streaming segments, and special CSN prize giveaway details! 

Chicago, IL (January 10, 2017) – CSN Chicago (CSN), the television home for the most games and the most comprehensive coverage of the 2016 WORLD SERIES CHAMPION CHICAGO CUBS, is ready to start up the highly-anticipated 2017 season in a big way with TWO-STRAIGHT HOURS of live Opening Night coverage from the “2017 Cubs Convention,” which is being held downtown this weekend (January 13-15) at the Sheraton Grand Chicago.

On Friday, January 13 beginning at 5:00 PM CT on CSN & CSN+, the network’s live coverage of the 2017 Cubs Convention begins with a special remote edition of SportsTalk Live presented by The Chevy Silverado, which will take place on the floor of the convention center.  This special edition of SportsTalk Live will feature host David Kaplan and a panel of Cubs baseball experts discussing the team’s historic 2016 World Series Championship season, all the off-season moves and acquisitions, along with the key factors needed for a championship repeat in 2017.  In addition, special guest interviews are also scheduled during the show.

Then, starting at 5:30 PM on CSN+ & CSNChicago.com, viewers can look forward to every thrill-packed moment of the convention’s Opening Ceremonies featuring introductions of Cubs players/coaches/front office executives, World Series celebratory video montages, and much more.  CSN’s 2017 Cubs Convention Opening Ceremonies coverage will be hosted by Cubs Pre/Post Game Live host David Kaplan, featuring reports from CSN Cubs beat reporter Kelly Crull and CSNChicago.com Cubs “Insider” Patrick Mooney, along with live interviews with Cubs players, coaches, and team VIPs.

NOTES: CSN+ is available in high-definition on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 201 in the Chicago area/South Bend, IN & on Comcast/Xfinity ch. 285 in the Peoria, Springfield, Rockford and Champaign markets, along with being made available in DIRECTV, DISH Network, AT&T U-verse, RCN, and WOW! homes among others; viewers are urged to visit CSNChicago.com’s CHANNEL FINDER for complete channel location details…In addition, the Opening Ceremonies special will also re-air on the main CSN channel location immediately following “Blackhawks Postgame Live” at approx. 9:00 PM).

Throughout the weekend, fans can look forward to even more comprehensive Cubs Convention coverage on CSNChicago.com’s CubsTalk section (csnchicago.com/cubs) featuring additional players/coaches/front office executive interviews, feature stories, fan reaction, photos, videos and much more to be provided via Kaplan, Crull, Mooney, CSNChicago.com Cubs digital baseball reporter Tony Andracki, along the CSN’s team of behind-the-scenes Cubs experts. 

From a social media standpoint, fans can follow Cubs Convention updates all weekend long via Twitter from Kaplan (@thekapman), Crull (@Kelly_Crull), Mooney (@CSNMooney), and Andracki/CubsTalk (@CSNCubs). Twitter and Facebook followers will also be able to gain access to the latest Convention news, live streaming, and information on special prizes to be given away at CSN’s Cubs Convention booth.

In addition, fans are urged to follow @CSNChicago on Instagram & Snapchat for enhanced, exclusive content featuring real-time sights and sounds to experience all the exciting weekend festivities.  Plus, fans can also get interactive with CSN’s Cubs Convention coverage throughout the weekend by utilizing the social media hashtag #CubsTalk.

Fans are also urged to stop by CSN’s Cubs Convention booth throughout the weekend for autograph signings featuring scheduled appearances by CSN Cubs announcers Len Kasper & Jim Deshaies on Saturday, along with entertaining social media activities to win Cubs tickets starting Friday, plus - fans can even pick up special CSN Cubs-themed giveaways throughout the weekend (while supplies last).  CSN’s Cubs Twitter handle (@CSNCubs) will provide up-to-the-minute CSN booth activities during Cubs Convention weekend as well. The Xfinity booth onsite will feature the latest Xfinity tech, special offers and free prizes, including a custom Cubs 2016 World Series decal cover for the Xfinity X1 voice remote.

Remember that guy? Former Cubs shortstop Ricky Gutiérrez

Remember that guy? Former Cubs shortstop Ricky Gutiérrez

Ricky Gutiérrez played in the Majors from 1993-2004. He played shortstop for the Cubs from 2000-01 and later signed with them again in June 2004. 

However, Gutiérrez never got back to the Majors with the Cubs, who sent him to the Red Sox the following month. His final Major League game was with the Red Sox on Oct. 3, 2004, the final game of the 2004 regular season; he didn’t play in the 2004 postseason. Gutiérrez was subsequently signed and released by a few other teams, including the White Sox in 2005.

Gutiérrez holds the distinction of being the first Cubs player to hit a regular season grand slam against the White Sox (July 12, 2001). In his two seasons with the Cubs, he tied for the Major League lead in sacrifice bunts both years (16 in 2000, 17 in 2001) which was odd since he had a grand total of 18 sacrifice bunts in his 847 career games NOT in a Cubs uniform. He also had uncharacteristic power with the Cubs:  21 home runs for Chicago in 272 games, 17 home runs with everyone else (847 games).

What Cubs fans probably remember most is what Gutiérrez did against them. On May 6, 1998 he had the lone hit (many dispute it should have been ruled an error) for the Astros off Kerry Wood in Wood’s 20-strikeout masterpiece at Wrigley Field (Gutiérrez was responsible for two of the strikeouts). 

Later that season, on June 26, the number 20 and Gutiérrez were again connected when he had a 20-pitch battle against Bartolo Colón, which ended in a strikeout. It remained the last plate appearance in the Majors of at least 20 pitches until Brandon Belt flew out on the 21st pitch of an at-bat against the Angels' Jaime Barria on April 22, 2018.

Gutiérrez’s nephew, James Jones, played 14 seasons in the NBA for the Pacers, Suns, Trail Blazers, Heat and Cavaliers.

2019 encore for Jesse Chavez?

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USA TODAY

2019 encore for Jesse Chavez?

On July 15, Brandon Morrow recorded his 22nd save of the season with a scoreless inning in San Diego. It wound up being the last time he pitched in a game for the Cubs in 2018. 

Four days later, during the All-Star break, the Cubs made a move to bolster their bullpen, acquiring Jesse Chavez from the Rangers in exchange for minor league hurler Tyler Thomas. It wasn’t even the biggest trade they’d make with the Rangers that month – a little over a week later they dealt for Cole Hamels. 

Despite pitching nearly half the innings, Chavez was almost as valuable as Hamels.

2018 with Cubs IP fWAR
Jesse Chavez 39.0 1.1
Cole Hamels 76.1 1.5

Chavez made his Cubs debut on July 21; from July 21 through the end of the season, 187 pitchers tossed at least 30 innings. 185 of them had a higher ERA than Chavez, while 184 of them allowed more baserunners per 9 innings.

Best ERA, July 21-end of season

(minimum 30 innings) IP ERA
Blake Treinen 32.1 0.56
Jesse Chavez 39.0 1.15
Blake Snell 61.2 1.17
Trevor Bauer 35.0 1.29
Trevor Williams 71.2 1.38
Robert Stock 36.0 1.50

Fewest baserunners per 9 innings, July 32-end of season

(minimum 30 innings) IP BR/9 IP
Blake Treinen 32.1 5.85
Blake Snell 61.2 7.15
Jesse Chavez 39.0 7.15
Jacob deGrom 93.2 7.49
Scott Oberg 30.2 7.63
Josh Hader 33.1 7.83

But how did Chavez transform into one of Joe Maddon’s best bullpen arms down the stretch?  According to Chavez, his own transformation started on Mother’s Day.

Chavez entered a game in Houston with a 5.48 ERA in a dozen appearances, but pitched three innings with no hits, no walks and four strikeouts. From that point through the end of the season, he posted a 1.70 ERA and 0.892 WHIP. 

Chavez points to a change in arm slot which resulted in better consistency and a slight jump in velocity. A glance at his release point charts show that consistency, and he added roughly one mile an hour to his fastball.

"It's kept me more consistent in the zone," Chavez said. "Things have been sharper, velocity has been a lot sharper. I was huffing and puffing trying to get a 92 (mph fastball) out there and it wasn't coming.

"Next thing you know, I dropped it and it's right there, and I'm like, 'something's wrong here.' But I just took it and ran with it."

Jesse Chavez 2018 four-seam fastball velocity

  Average Max
Prior to May 13 92.6 mph 94.6 mph
May 13 on 93.6 mph 95.7 mph

Can Chavez be valuable in 2019?  The 35-year old reliever posted the best ERA (2.55), WHIP (1.059) and walk rate (4.5% - nearly two percent better than his previous best) in 2018, and he continued to get better as the season went on. 

He’s a former starter who can pitch multiple innings if needed, and that’s a valuable thing - especially for a manager like Joe Maddon, who uses his pitchers in a variety of ways. It’s unlikely he’ll have a second consecutive career year.

But he’ll likely be well worth the price tag; he only made $1 million in 2018, and even with a slight raise he should be very affordable. There’s definitely room in Maddon’s bullpen for a pitcher like Chavez.