Cubs

Will the Cubs deal Garza?

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Will the Cubs deal Garza?

Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein let word leak last week at the GM meetings in Milwaukee they would be interested in hearing offers on any player currently on the Cubs' roster. It was assumed Matt Garza and Starlin Castro would be the top two untouchables from the group, but maybe not any longer, as Ken Rosenthal tweets:

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Ken RosenthalRangers can't be ruled out on starters. Have shown strong interest in Garza in past. Cubs' new regime willing to move him. CubsMLB
Nov 22 via Twitter for MacFavoriteRetweetReply

Don't get carried away just yet. Rosenthal may be one of the best in the business, but he can't possibly have his hand on the pulse of Cubs beat completely while spending all his time nationally. In saying the new Cubs regime is willing to move Garza, that might be getting a bit ahead of himself.

I wouldn't put it past Jed and Theo to listen to offers on Garza, but to say they're willing to move him seems to be jumping the gun. It would likely take a small army of prospects or high-upside players to get the Cubs to move Garza, especially considering the old regime gave up three top prospects (Chris Archer, Hak-Ju Lee and Brandon Guyer) from a shallow farm system to get the energetic pitcher to Chicago.

That being said, it was the old administration. Hoyer and Epstein don't have the same attachment to any players like Jim Hendry or anybody else would. And why would they? All they care about is getting the Cubs back to the World Series.

With regards to what the Cubs gave up to Tampa Bay for Garza, what's done is done and that's the way Theo and Jed are looking at it. They can't go back and re-do that trade. They can't turn the "force trades" option on like a video game. So why would they not at least entertain the option of trading Garza?

A team like Texas may be a perfect fit. After losing two straight World Series, they could be anxious to do anything they can to get over the hump in 2012. Maybe they give up too much for Garza because the pressure gets to them. It doesn't hurt Jed and Theo to listen to the offers.

But at the same time, both men have preached the Cubs' need for run prevention, namely pitching. How can they say that's the area with the biggest need for improvement for the team in 2012 and then trade away the team's best pitcher?

If Garza is traded, that would likely assume 2012 will be a rebuilding year. Hard to make the playoffs when you trade your ace.

Garza won't be 28 for another couple of days and is coming off one of the best seasons of his career. He boasts four straight seasons with an ERA under 4.00 and a WHIP under 1.27. You can't give a guy like that up and hope to contend next year.

Then again, if Rosenthal is right, maybe Jed and Theo don't intend to contend in 2012.
That's kind of a scary thought.

David Bote puts his sweet swing to use, assists two Cubs fans in gender reveal

David Bote puts his sweet swing to use, assists two Cubs fans in gender reveal

David Bote put his sweet, sweet swing to special use on Tuesday.

Prior to the Cubs’ Cactus League game vs. the Rockies, a couple of Cubs fans asked Bote to partake in their gender reveal. The duo brought a powder-infused baseball, asking Bote to take a hack to reveal whether they’re having a boy or girl.

The father-to-be tossed the ball to Bote, who smashed it open to unleash a pink cloud of powder — signifying the couple will have a girl. The 26-year-old infielder — who has two daughters himself — threw his arms in the air to celebrate.

No matter how you feel about gender reveals, you’ve gotta love the uniqueness of this one and Bote partaking in the special moment. Here’s to a healthy life for the baby! 

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Cubs' Albert Almora Jr. is off to a hot start in spring training

Cubs' Albert Almora Jr. is off to a hot start in spring training

The Cubs have only played three spring training games, and it’s dangerous to use spring results to predict regular season successes and failures. Still, it’s okay to acknowledge Albert Almora Jr.’s hot start in camp.

In two games, Almora is 4-for-4 with a walk, double, home run, four RBIs and four runs scored. That line is essentially equivalent to a single game in the regular season and could be turned upside down by the end of the week. But it’s a start for the 25-year-old who has struggled immensely at the plate for the last season and a half.

In his last 177 games (dating back to the second half of 2018), Almora holds a .235/.270/.347 slash line. The advanced stats paint an uglier picture: 58 wRC+, .261 wOBA and 52.2 percent groundball rate.

Last season was the most challenging of Almora’s young career. He hit .236/.271/.381 in 130 games with a 64 wRC+, .271 wOBA, -0.7 fWAR (all career worsts). On top of that, he was involved in a heartbreaking moment early in the season; an Almora foul ball struck a young girl at Minute Maid Park during a Cubs-Astros game in May.

Almora refused to blame his 2019 offensive woes on that incident, though it obviously played a part. He did admit that he was in a bad place mentally and used this winter to decompress. Almora also used it to make some adjustments to his swing and the changes are clear as day:

Pre-2020:

2020:

As MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian notes, Almora is now more upright in the box and his stance is more closed. His leg kick is less defined and he’s rotating his front leg far less than previous seasons. In short, he’s more direct to his swing and has more time to react in the box because he cut out a lot of his pre-swing movements.

RELATED: David Ross is wasting no time with Cubs' rotation competition

Almora said Monday he’s far from where he wants to be, pointing out the MLB season is a 200-day marathon. It’s too early to tell whether his simplified approach leads to sustainable success.

Small sample size be damned, Almora’s made noticeable adjustments. That’s the first step in his mission to get back on track offensively.

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