Cubs

If this is it at trade deadline, Cubs believe they have enough to win World Series

If this is it at trade deadline, Cubs believe they have enough to win World Series

With less than 24 hours to go until Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline, manager Joe Maddon expected the Cubs to be quiet this time.

“There’s nothing going on, as far as I know,” Maddon said before Sunday night’s 7-6, 12-inning, walk-off win over the Seattle Mariners. “Nothing. Nothing. Crickets.”

That wouldn’t have gone over well while sections of Wrigley Field booed spot starter Brian Matusz, and might not have initially registered with the casual fans tuning into ESPN to see baseball’s biggest story. Theo Epstein’s front office also won’t be content with the lineup simply because the Cubs came back from a 6-0 deficit and Seattle closer Steve Cishek blew a three-run, ninth-inning lead. 

But the Cubs have a roster that keeps coming at you in waves and a manager who enjoys controlled chaos. This one ended while John Lackey, Wednesday’s scheduled starter, warmed up in the bullpen after seven different relievers combined to throw nine scoreless innings. It took Jason Heyward leading off the 12th inning with a line-drive double, hustling to third base on a Willson Contreras flyball, sprinting home on Jon Lester’s two-strike bunt and sliding headfirst to score the game-winning run.

The Cubs might have already made their biggest move this summer, stomaching Aroldis Chapman’s off-the-field baggage and acquiring the 105-mph closer last week from the New York Yankees.

So is this team good enough – as is – to win a championship? Ask the $155 million pitcher with two World Series rings and now his first career walk-off RBI.

“Yeah, I think so,” Lester said. “Any addition that they can give us is a bonus, (but) there are always other things involved – money, prospects, all that other stuff. We realize that if you just make that (Chapman trade), we still feel that we’re good enough to get where we want to go. Now it’s a matter of us doing it and staying healthy and playing.”

“Expect the unexpected” is also how general manager Jed Hoyer framed this trade deadline. The mighty Yankees became sellers for the first time in a generation, sending an All-Star reliever (Andrew Miller) to the Cleveland Indians on Sunday in another 4-for-1 deal. 

While the small-market Indians – a cautious organization known for slow playing and using trade negotiations to gather better intelligence on their own farm system – also had an agreement in place with the Milwaukee Brewers to acquire Jonathan Lucroy. At least until the All-Star catcher used his no-trade protection to veto that deal.

The Cubs felt enough of a roster crunch over the weekend to send a valuable bench player (Tommy La Stella) and a trusted reliever during last year’s playoff run (Justin Grimm) down to Triple-A Iowa, where Trevor Cahill (knee) is stretching out on a rehab assignment and Albert Almora Jr. is itching for another promotion and the chance to become the 2017 Opening Day center fielder. Jorge Soler (hamstring) – another big-time playoff performer last year – is trying to get his timing down at Double-A Tennessee.
 
“If they do something, great,” Lester said. “That’s just kind of like that shot in the arm, that little boost for you. But if they don’t, I feel like we’re in a good place.”

In Maddon, the Cubs have a manager unafraid to push bullpen buttons by playing Travis Wood in left field, watching the crowd of 40,952 give him a standing ovation for an athletic catch at the brick wall in the seventh inning, and then summon the lefty reliever again for an eighth-inning matchup.

[SHOP: Gear up, Cubs fans!]

In Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, the Cubs have two leading MVP candidates in the middle of their lineup and 50 percent of an All-Star infield. In Jake Arrieta, the Cubs have the National League’s reigning Cy Young Award winner for what’s been a durable, reliable rotation, at a time when the price for pitching is skyrocketing.

In Chapman, the Cubs added the game’s most intimidating closer to a team that almost had a 99-percent chance to make the playoffs and is now 58-1 when leading entering the ninth inning.

Crickets? To the clubhouse, to the rest of a $10 billion industry, to anyone skeptical of The Plan, the Cubs already sent their message loud and clear with the Chapman trade.

“He was more of like a ‘want,’” Lester said. “We had a great back end of our bullpen. ‘Ronnie’ (Hector Rondon) and (Pedro) Strop have been doing a good job for us. When a talent like (Chapman) becomes available, it’s more of like when you’re a kid. You go to the toy aisle, you’re like: ‘Yeah, I want that.’ I don’t need it, but I want it, because it would be kind of cool. 

“That’s the luxury (this organization has) now. We have that freedom to maybe trade away a few of these (prospects) and try to help us get a little bit better.”

Kyle Hendricks takes in a Blackhawks game with... Bastian Schweinsteiger?

hendricks-schwein-1018.jpg
NBC Sports Chicago

Kyle Hendricks takes in a Blackhawks game with... Bastian Schweinsteiger?

A Cubs pitcher taking in a Blackhawks game in a suite is nothing special, but doing so with a World Cup winner is... different.

Kyle Hendricks was spotted by the cameras of Thursday's Blackhawks-Coyotes broadcast on NBC Sports Chicago. The guy he was standing next to was none other than Chicago Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, a World Cup with Germany and Champions League winner with Bayern Munich.

Hendricks is known for being reserved on the mound and in his interviews with the media. Meanwhile, Schweinsteiger was filmed yelling "Bear Down" in the hallway of Toyota Park after a Fire practice earlier in the day.

There's no telling what inspired Schweinsteiger to do this, but he has definitely embraced Chicago sports teams since joining the Fire in March of 2017.

Makes you wonder what Hendricks and Schweinsteiger were talking about. Best places to get brats in Chicago?

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist provides a hilarious glimpse into how he's spending a free October

Ben Zobrist won't win the Comeback Player of the Year award this winter, but maybe he can take home a Grammy for Best New Artist?

The Cubs veteran infielder/outfielder posted a hilarious video on his Instagram Wednesday night showcasing how he's been spending October after the Cubs were unceremoniously ousted from the playoffs after on the third day of the month.

It's a fantastic music video of Zobrist lip-syncing to Mumford & Sons' "I Will Wait" while he nearly knocks the TV off the wall of his home by swinging the bat indoors pretending to hit off Clayton Kershaw and frolicking around a field that looks shockingly similar to Hershel's farm from the second season of "The Walking Dead":

View this post on Instagram

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year.... I will wait for you....

A post shared by Ben Zobrist (@benzobrist18) on

Zobrist also posted a lengthy caption on his perspective on the Cubs' disappointing end to the season:

It always takes me a few weeks to process the season and begin the offseason. Here are my thoughts.....along with a unique way of making light of the postseason that should have been......... (special thanks to @dimtillard for help with Video) 
Maybe you feel the way I do. It was a very quick and abrupt ending to a good season for us. It leaves a sour taste in my mouth. But let’s not forget all the good that happened. This game and this team gives us something to pass the time, to express our love and passion, to feel the joy of the wins and the pains of the losses, and it calls us to unity when we so easily can be divided about so many other things. Each game is a microcosm of life. The game itself is not
Life, but it helps us deal with life in a way. I’m thankful for even the painful losses at the end. The game can be a great teacher. 
I felt privileged to play with this team and play for our fans all year. We were stretched and we grew in new ways as individuals and as a group and that is always a good thing. We strive to win championships, but more often the process is the goal. We will be stronger because of all that we went through this year. 
What will I do now? I will travel and watch my wife crush her book tour. I will be in and out of Chi-town. I just got back home to Franklin, TN. I will find joy in raising and watching my kids grow and continue becoming their own person. I will rest and begin preparing for next season. I will work hard in mind, body, and spirit. I will help other players with @patriotforward and @showandgo. I will focus on personal growth and charitable endeavors and become a better man, teammate, friend, and player. 
To Baseball and Fans: For the next 5 months until I play next year....
I will wait for you....

Come for the Zobrist lip sync, but stay for the 37-year-old using a bat as a guitar while wearing a sleeveless shirt and rocking an old-timey top hat.

A year ago, Zobrist completely reshaped his offseason workout plan after three straight years of playing deep into October. It appears he's added another new trick to his winter workout — hopping over fences even though there is a clear opening just a foot away.

Hey, whatever works...