Cubs

Santos shadow: Moreland, Hughes get to work

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Santos shadow: Moreland, Hughes get to work

Saturday, Feb. 26, 20112:55 PM

By Patrick Mooney
CSNChicago.com

MESA, Ariz. Keith Moreland and Pat Hughes leaned over the dugout rail on Saturday morning at HoHoKam Park. They will have to fill hundreds and hundreds of hours of air time across the next seven months. They hope it will sound like an easy conversation.

Ron Santo, who died of complications from bladder cancer last December, would have turned 71 on Friday. His presence is missed throughout Cubs camp, though he is not forgotten.

Theres no doubt Ron was a great friend, a major part of this organization for 50 years, Moreland said. I have sadness and excitement all at the same time.

Santos image is all over the teams media guide cover. The players wear No. 10 uniform patches and a statue will be built outside Wrigley Field. On Sunday, Moreland and Hughes will call their first game together as the new WGN radio team, in a booth where Santo was a fixture for 21 seasons.

Moreland, a Cub from 1982-87, is an accomplished broadcaster who has occasionally filled in for Santo and Bob Brenly on the television side. Combined he spent 25 seasons as a University of Texas analyst for baseball and football games.

Moreland will be more analytical, but still get words wrong. It will be interesting to listen to find out if he calls out the professionals.

There is no substitute for hustle, he said. Baseball is a game that you cannot control the outcome because you can hit the ball four times right on the button or you can make five really good pitches in a row and two of them could leave the ballpark.

But what you do have control of is the effort. And if theres a point (where) I can be critical, it will be about effort.

Moreland spent part of Saturday making introductions. He walked over to the cage to talk with hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo, and Hughes later showed him around the press box. Hughes has worked with Bob Uecker, Santo and now Moreland, who has a three-year contract.

Oh, heck, yeah, Im nervous, Moreland said, in the sense that I just hope people allow me to be me. Again, Santo's irreplaceable. Thats not my intention in any capacity and because of that, I have some apprehension. But, again, I get to turn to my right and look and see whos sitting beside me. Hughes is the best straight man in the world.

PatrickMooney is CSNChicago.com's Cubs beat writer. FollowPatrick on Twitter @CSNMooneyfor up-to-the-minute Cubs news and views.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Is Kris Bryant the new Curt Flood?

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Is Kris Bryant the new Curt Flood?

This has been the offseason of Kris Bryant rumors and with his grievance still unresolved Cubs fans can only speculate what will happen to the MVP. Is Kris Bryant trying to change the system like Curt Flood did? Host David Kaplan is joined by ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers to discuss Bryant's future as a Cub, and the lackluster offseason the Cubs have had.

(1:50) - Why the Cubs have not made any moves so far

(3:32) - Is Kris Bryant the new Curt Flood?

(6:26) - Cubs need upgrades, specifically in the bullpen

(9:10) - Will the Cubs make a big move before the season starts?

(11:30) - Does Javy Baez get the big extension?

(14:45) - Will the Cubs get to 86 wins this year?

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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Cubs close to deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza, per report

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USA TODAY

Cubs close to deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza, per report

The Cubs have made a roster move.

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the Cubs are reportedly close to a deal with free agent outfielder Steven Souza.

Souza, 30, missed the 2019 season after suffering a torn left ACL and LCL at the end of spring training. He also missed a chunk of 2018, playing 72 games while hitting the injured list on multiple occasions.

Souza had a career year with the Rays in 2017, slashing .239/.351/.459 with 30 home runs, 78 RBIs and a 121 wRC+. Those figures were career-bests for Souza, minus his batting average. He sported a walk rate (13.6 percent) above league average (8.5) that season, though his strikeout rate (29 percent) was worse than the MLB average (23).

The signing of Souza likely rules out a return of fan favorite outfielder Nicholas Castellanos. The Cubs have been linked to Castellanos throughout the offseason, but since they're looking to stay under MLB’s luxury tax threshold, re-signing Castellanos would require some financial maneuvering.

Souza has spent most of his career in right field (3,608 career innings) but has minimal experience playing center (33 1/3) and left (20). He’s above average in right (career 6 Defensive Runs Saved) and posted a career best 7 DRS in 2017.

The Cubs have a five-time Gold Glove right fielder in Jason Heyward, so Souza will see time at all three outfield spots. Heyward moved to center full-time last season after the Cubs acquired Castellanos and has played center at times throughout his career.

Assuming he stays healthy, Souza is a low-risk, high-reward move for the Cubs. He’ll add power to the middle of the order and add a proven bat to an outfield with some question marks. Albert Almora Jr. and Ian Happ have each struggled offensively at times since 2018. Souza offers another bat in case those two slump again.