Cubs

Cubs: The rundown on the minor-league staff

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Cubs: The rundown on the minor-league staff

The Cubs are betting big on this youth movement, the idea of player development. So even if these names dont jump out into headlines, they will be doing important work behind the scenes.
Whether thats helping Brett Jackson with his two-strike approach at Triple-A Iowa, or guiding Arodys Vizcaino as he recovers from Tommy John surgery in Des Moines, there needs to be some finishing touches.
At some point next year, Cubs fans should be able to drive to Class-A Kane County and see some of the prospects Albert Almora and Jorge Soler who are supposed to be foundation pieces in Theo Epsteins rebuilding project.
Heres a look at the minor-league staff the Cubs unveiled on Tuesday:
Triple-A IowaMarty Pevey (manager)Mike Mason (pitching coach)Brian Harper (hitting coach)Nick Frangella (athletic trainer)Ed Kohl (strength coach)
Note: Pevey had worked as the organizations catching coordinator for the past three seasons, running his experience to almost three decades in professional baseball. Harper who won a World Series ring with the 1991 Minnesota Twins moves up a level after managing at Double-A Tennessee and Class-A Daytona.
Double-A TennesseeBuddy Bailey (manager)Jeff Fassero (pitching coach)Desi Wilson (hitting coach)Scott Barringer (athletic trainer)Ryan Clausen (strength coach)
Note: This will be Baileys 25th year as a manager in the minors. Fassero pitched for nine teams in the big leagues and went 121-124 with a 4.11 ERA during his 16-year career. Look for top prospect Javier Baez to be in Tennessee by the second half of next season if he continues on this fast track.
Class-A DaytonaDave Keller (manager)Storm Davis (pitching coach)Mariano Duncan (hitting coach)Peter Fagan (athletic trainer)
Note: Keller has been with the organization for almost a decade, earning a good reputation as a hitting instructor. Davis who won 113 games during his 13-year career in the big leagues is a new hire. He spent the last two seasons as the pitching coach at Class-A Hickory, an affiliate of the Texas Rangers. Before that, he helped The Bolles School in Jacksonville, Fla., win back-to-back state titles in 2009 and 2010.
Class-A Kane CountyMark Johnson (manager)Ron Villone (pitching coach)Tom Beyers (hitting coach)Shane Nelson (athletic trainer)
Note: Johnson, the former White Sox catcher, gets bumped up after managing two seasons at Class-A Boise. Villone pitched for 12 teams in the majors, and he could be working with some of the more interesting arms in the system, Pierce Johnson and Dillon Maples, trying to help get them to that level. On some nights, it could be worth sitting through the traffic to get to Geneva.
Class-A BoiseGary Van Tol (manager)David Rosario (pitching coach)Bill Buckner (hitting coach)Jonathan Fierro (athletic trainer)
Note: After five seasons as a volunteer coach and serving as an associate scout, Van Tol has been elevated. He has extensive experience in the college game after coaching at Gonzaga University and the University of Portland. Buckner the Curb Your Enthusiasm guest star returns for his second season on the job.
Mesa (Rookie)Bobby Mitchell (manager)Anderson Tavares (pitching coach)Rick Tronerud (rehab pitching coordinator)Ricardo Medina, Jimmy Gonzalez (hitting coaches) Steve Melendez (athletic trainer) Yi-Chiang Chang (rehab strength coach)
Dominican (Rookie)Yudith Ozorio (manager) Leo Hernandez (pitching coach)Oscar Bernard (hitting coach) Wilkin Perez (athletic trainer)
Note: The Cubs will only have one Dominican team next season. Osmin Melendez will manage the Venezuelan Cubs, a newly created team, with Franklin Blanco working as the hitting coach.
Tim Cossins who has spent the past 10 seasons in the Miami Marlins organization will help oversee it all as the minor-league field coordinator. The Marlins draw far more attention for their fire sales, but they have a good job developing impact players like Giancarlo Stanton.
The Cubs consider Derek Johnson to be a signature hire. Johnson had resisted other chances to leave Vanderbilt University, where he coached several top prospects, including future Tampa Bay Rays ace David Price, the American Leagues Cy Young Award winner in 2012. As the new minor-league pitching coordinator, Johnson will try to address the systems biggest weakness the lack of impact arms.
Anthony Iapoce, a special assistant in player development, will oversee the minor-league hitting program while working on other projects within the organization. The last three seasons he worked as a roving hitting coordinator for the Toronto Blue Jays.
Carmelo Martinez, whos been a presence for the Cubs in Latin America, becomes the hitting coordinator for Class-A, Rookie League and Dominican League teams. Jose Flores joins the organization as the minor-league infield coordinator. Lee Tinsley is back for his third year as the outfieldbaserunning coordinator. Doug Jarrow (strength and conditioning), Justin Sharpe (athletic training) and Chuck Baughman (rehabilitation) also return as coordinators.
There are roughly two months left until pitchers and catcher report to Arizona.

ESPN to broadcast two of Cubs first four games in 2020

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AP

ESPN to broadcast two of Cubs first four games in 2020

It won't be long before baseball fans get their first look at the Cubs under new manager David Ross.

ESPN announced Thursday they will broadcast two of the Cubs' first four games in 2020: March 29 against the Brewers in Milwaukee (Sunday Night Baseball) and March 30 against the Pirates (3 p.m. first pitch). The latter game is the Cubs' 2020 home opener.

Ross worked as a color analyst for ESPN from 2017-19 before the Cubs hired him as manager in October. So, not only will his club be in the national spotlight early in the season, but his former co-workers will be the ones analyzing him as his managerial career kicks off.

The Cubs open the season on March 26 against the Brewers.

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Willson Contreras’ trade value just spiked, thanks to White Sox signing Yasmani Grandal

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USA TODAY

Willson Contreras’ trade value just spiked, thanks to White Sox signing Yasmani Grandal

This is the best thing the White Sox have done for the Cubs in years.

The White Sox made a big splash in free agency Thursday, signing catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million contract. Grandal joins the South Siders from the Brewers, where he played an integral role in Milwaukee making a second-straight postseason appearance in 2019.

Grandal led qualified catchers in on-base percentage (.380) last season, also posting career highs in home runs (28) and RBIs (77). He’s also an excellent pitch framer, tying for fourth in RszC (runs saved by catcher framing) among all catchers with 9.

Milwaukee’s payroll reached a franchise-high $122.5 million in 2019 and their farm system (No. 29 in MLB, per Baseball America) is lacking. How they replace Grandal’s production is a major question mark, which in turn is a win for the Cubs this offseason.

But besides plucking him from the NL Central, the White Sox signing Grandal early in the offseason helps the Cubs, who have important decisions of their own to make.

Although Cubs president Theo Epstein said to take any trade rumors with a “mouthful of salt,” multiple teams believe catcher Willson Contreras is available for trade. The Cubs need to retool their roster and replenish a farm system that has been depleted in recent seasons from numerous “win now” trades.

The Cubs and White Sox made the notorious José Quintana trade in July 2017, but it’s unlikely the two would have matched up for a Contreras trade. The Cubs need young assets; trading away young assets is the last thing the White Sox want to do as their championship window opens.

So, Grandal landed with a team that was unlikely to be involved in any potential Contreras trade talks. Grandal was the best free agent catcher; Contreras is the best catcher that can be had in a trade.

Other teams interested in Grandal — such as the Reds — can no longer turn to him in free agency. The Rays have made addressing the catcher spot this winter a priority, but they have one of MLB’s lowest payrolls each season. Signing Grandal wasn’t going to happen, but Tampa Bay has the farm system (No. 2 in baseball, per MLB.com) to make a big trade.

Contreras is the best catcher available — for the right price, obviously — so the ball is in the Cubs' court. They don’t get better by dealing their two-time All-Star backstop, but Contreras’ trade value is high. With Grandal off the market, it just got even higher.

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