Cubs

Cubs: Maddon not worried about 'being nice' with quick hook on Hammel

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Cubs: Maddon not worried about 'being nice' with quick hook on Hammel

Joe Maddon is trying to win baseball games, not make friends.

These are the kinds of calls Theo Epstein's front office envisioned when they pitched the idea of coming to Chicago to Maddon in the offseason. 

The celebrity manager was at it again Wednesday night, yanking starter Jason Hammel out of the game after just 65 pitches, when he had given up only one run in 5 2/3 innings.

His last time out, Hammel threw just 76 pitches against the San Francisco Giants, and the veteran was not happy with the decision.

He wasn't any happier this time around, refusing to speak much on the matter after the game, saying he was "obviously" surprised and upset that he came out of the game.

[MORE CUBS: Six in a row: The Cubs are feeling 'unbeatable']

Maddon said he was "certain" Hammel would be upset but explained his reasoning while also reminding the media that the number of pitches doesn't matter because "it's not a 100-pitch exercise."

Maddon didn't like how Hammel matched up against Adam Lind with a runner on second and two outs, so instead of walking the Brewers first baseman, he brought in left-hander Clayton Richard from the bullpen to face the lefty Lind.

"From my perspective, where I'm sitting, it's not about being nice," Maddon said. "It's about trying to do the right thing at the right moment. I've been watching Lind all year. He's one of the scariest left-handed hitters out there right now.

"You could have chosen to walk him or 'pitch around him,' which I wasn't comfortable with that either. I thought Clayton could put the ball on the ground; he did not. ... I thought it was the right thing to do."

[MORE CUBS: Cubs searching for spots to get Kyle Schwarber in at catcher]

Hammel is a 32-year-old veteran in his 10th year in the big leagues. He has been one of the Cubs' most consistent starters all year, posting a 3.11 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 22 games.

So even catcher Miguel Montero was surprised by Maddon's quick hook.

"It caught me a little off guard there," Montero said. "But he had his plan. Obviously, Hammel threw his ball good, maybe not quite as good as I've seen him in the past.

"They were putting good swings on it. (Maddon) saw that. He saw that they were hitting the ball good. That's probably why he made that decision.

"As a player, we don't understand because we like to compete and we think we're still good and all this. But sometimes, we kinda actually step back and go, 'You know what? You were right because I didn't pitch that great.'

"He didn't pitch bad, but I've seen him better before."

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But, all's well that end's well, maybe? The Cubs did get the win, and Hammel talked about how proud he was of the way his teammates played.

However, given this is two starts in a row, Maddon knows the frustration is building for Hammel.

"I'm sure there's a statute of limitations involving something like this, and I might be, like, pressing it right now," Maddon said. "However, I really like the guy a lot; I think he's outstanding. I'm sure we'll be able to get through it. 

"I want him to be upset, actually, because of his competitive side. I'm fine with that."

Cubs reportedly interested in Troy Tulowitzki

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USA TODAY

Cubs reportedly interested in Troy Tulowitzki

According to MLB Insider Jon Heyman, the Cubs are one of the teams interested in free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. The 5-time All-Star will be holding a workout soon, with Chicago being one of the six teams reported to have a scout present at his workout.

Heyman did mention that while the Cubs aren’t necessarily the favorites right now, we will know how good of a chance they will have soon. Tulowitzki and his team are reported to be narrowing down their list to (at least) 6 teams.

Last season Tulowitzki played 66 games for the Blue Jays, batting .249 with 7 home runs and 26 RBI. For his career he is a .290 hitter and is looking for a bounce-back season after dealing with complications from bone spur injuries in both heels over the years.

Toronto has to pay the $38 million left on Tulowitzki's contract, freeing up other teams to sign the veteran to a more reasonable deal. Since the Blue Jays went the route of cutting him, teams can offer Tulowitzki a league minimum salary.

For the Cubs, he represents-however small-a chance to extract great value from a veteran player, which would be a big bonus considering how the Yu Darvish signing backfired in year one.

Tulowitzki is likely to be searching for playing time on a legit title contender, so if he can provide any solid offensive production going forward, he and the Cubs could be a solid match.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Winter Meetings recap

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Winter Meetings recap

When nothing happens in Vegas, it stays in Vegas. Luke, Kap and Tony talk about the Cubs lack of moves during the Winter Meetings.

In this episode of the Cubs Talk Podcast with Luke Stuckmeyer, David Kaplan and Tony Andracki:

00:10 - What happen in Vegas stays in Vegas and this year that means nothing. Luke, Kap & Tony talk Cubs lack of moves at Winter Meetings.

00:50 - Where the heck is all the money? This was supposed to be a wide-open window - we step on the accelerator.

01:25 - Cubs keep throwing money at the problem (Chatwood, Darvish) and it has become a cautionary tale.

02:50 - Are the Cubs playing at the shallow end of the kiddie pool?

03:50 - Tony talks about the volatility of the relief market.

05:15 - Where is the bullpen market? Brewers are making moves, but it's still "crickets" for the Cubs.

06:20 - Tony: Other than bullpen - Cubs have to address backup middle infielder most of all.

06:57 - Daniel Descalso rumors. Kap describes him as a grinder who fits the leadership mold.

07:47 - Luke is a little worried about Steve Cishek. He threw a career-high 70 innings last season.

09:34 - The guys talk about the possibility of a "second deadline" for the Winter Meetings to force clubs to make more moves.

11:06 - Luke: "I wanted to see Machado and Harper walking down the strip and making it rain!"

12:45 - Cubs still have so much to address. Some Cubs fans are starting to get a little itchy. Teams in the division are making moves. What about us?

14:45 - Question: Is Anthony Rizzo the third-best 1st baseman in the Central Division?

15:50 - Prediction time: What's biggest move the Cubs will make before opening day? Kap believes that Ian Happ will not be a Cub before the regular season starts.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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