Cubs

Bryce Harper professes love for Chicago food and oh hell yeah he's signing here

Bryce Harper professes love for Chicago food and oh hell yeah he's signing here

Ooooohhhhh it's happening. 

Recently, TMZ Sports, your trusted news source for all things sports and all things in general, caught up with superstar free agent Bryce Harper. 

They asked him which city had the best food scene, and his answer was *clearly* an indication of where he's going to sign: 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BqNzdi0lbFS/

We can confirm that fancy steak and deep dish pizza are both delicious, so this checks out. 

Choosing where to spend your life based on nearby food choices is deeply, deeply relatable. 

Where do Javy Baez and Anthony Rizzo fit in Cubs leadership equation?

Where do Javy Baez and Anthony Rizzo fit in Cubs leadership equation?

LAS VEGAS — All this talk about the Cubs' desire for more leadership on the roster has raised several questions and chief among them is wondering what it says about the core players already on the team.

If the Cubs have a leadership void — as Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer have said this month — does that mean players like Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward, Ben Zobrist and Javy Baez are not leaders?

Epstein confirmed Tuesday afternoon at the MLB Winter Meetings that the Cubs feel they have plenty of leadership on the roster, but they're looking more for that one guy — a veteran who has been around the block and isn't afraid to call somebody out or hold teammates accountable. The David Ross or Jon Jay mold, as Hoyer said Monday.

Rizzo is the face of the franchise and the driving force in the lineup every day, but he's still only 29 and developing as a leader. 

Heyward isn't real vocal, but when he does speak up, it carries a lot of weight — as the famous Rain Delay Speech indicates. 

Zobrist can talk hitting for hours and it's easy to see him becoming a coach whenever his playing career is done. But he isn't super vocal by nature, either.

Baez is an interesting case as he is quickly becoming an impactful leader for this team. In the process of putting up a huge breakout 2018 campaign that earned him a second-place finish in NL MVP voting, Baez became one of the most outspoken players in the dugout and clubhouse.

His instincts and baseball IQ are off the charts and he sees the game on a whole other level, which lends a different viewpoint to the squad. 

When the Cubs were handed a disappointing and abrupt early offseason, it was Baez that stood at his locker for nearly a half hour, ranting about how the team lacked urgency and an edge for most of the year.

Baez is starting to emerge as a true leader, but March 28, 2019 will only represent his third big-league Opening Day and he still has played in just 527 games at baseball's highest level.

"Javy is as respected as anyone in that clubhouse and is just starting to find his voice," Epstein said. "That's probably the next step for him — speaking up a little bit more. But by the way he plays the game, how much he cares about winning, how tough he is, he's got everyone's respect and attention."

Epstein said Rizzo is making it his personal mission to take his leadership to another level.

Epstein and Hoyer and the rest of the front office are taking responsibility for the "miscalculation" that the 2018 Cubs did not need — or have room on the roster — for one of those leaders.

Now they're trying to fix that for 2019 by attempting to add the right guy into the mix.

But what type of leader are the Cubs seeking?

"It's really certain leadership you need from the right bench guy who's not expecting a ton more playing time, who's content at where he is in his career — he's just completely invested in winning, invested in his teammates," Epstein said. "Those little difficult conversations that you have to have sometimes. Or bringing energy on a day where the everyday guys are dragging.

"That's an important role on a club, but please don't take it the wrong way that we think there's some deficiency with our position players. We have incredible guys and a lot of character there and some leaders — they're just continuing to grow into it."

What is it that Ross provided this club that they haven't been able to duplicate since he left?

Here's a perfect example:

"David was unusual, because Dave would grab guys walking off the field after a play," Joe Maddon said Tuesday. "And I would be entertained in my corner watching this whole thing unfold. I would address it afterwards. There's nothing wrong with that. I know that some of the guys were afraid to come in the dugout. And still that's OK, because they knew David was on their side.

"Yes, we want that. I would say that every team out here wants that and they're hard to find."

Could David Ross be Cubs' next bench coach?

Could David Ross be Cubs' next bench coach?

LAS VEGAS — Who would've thought Dec. 23, 2014, would go down as a day that changed the course of Cubs history as we know it?

That's the day the Cubs officially signed David Ross, otherwise known as "Grandpa Rossy" to a large contigent of the fanbase.

Ross hasn't put on a Cubs uniform since Game 7 of the World Series, but the two years in between then and now have been a roller coaster for the popular backup catcher.

Want to know how much Ross still resonates with the fanbase? Check out Twitter or Facebook/Instagram comment sections anytime there's a mention of Ross.

Like this week, for example, when Ross was referenced Monday by Cubs GM Jed Hoyer as the perfect example of leadership the front office hopes to find from a veteran position player this winter. Then, news came out Tuesday evening that Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde would be leaving his post to take over as manager of the Baltimore Orioles, prompting many to speculate — or hope, in the case of many fans — that Ross could be Hyde's replacement as Joe Maddon's right-hand man.

So...would Ross be an option for Cubs bench coach now that there's an opening?

The short answer is — yes, absolutely. The Cubs would love to be able to make that move, but it's not just about them.

Ross has only been out of the game for two years and in that time, he's been very busy with Dancing with the Stars, writing a book, working as a broadcaster/analyst for ESPN and also serving as a special assistant in Theo Epstein's front office.

But none of that would preclude Ross from taking a role in uniform as an official member of the coaching staff.

It's a question of whether he'd want to do it. He still has a young family and part of the reason he didn't join the Cubs coaching staff a year ago was because he is enjoying time at home, being a dad and husband. 

Serving as a coach on a big-league roster is a major time commitment that would require Ross to be away from his family for an incredible amount of time. Most coaches actually spend more time at the field and away from their families than players and that's especially true nowadays with all the gameplanning and strategy and video work.

It's understandable that Ross — who turns 42 in March — would still want another year or more to spend with his young family before beginning the next step of his career, even though there's no question he has all the makings of a future coach or manager.

Even if Ross decides to stay out of uniform for at least another season, the Cubs have already been talking with him about being around the team more to help guide these young players that look up to him so much.

"I think his mere presence is helpful," Jed Hoyer said Monday before any news of Hyde's departure came out. "Those guys trust him. The timing of David Ross being on this team was perfect in that those guys were 21 and 22, so he had such an influence on those guys. 

"I still think they look up to him, so when he's around, they'll gravitate towards him and talk to him. We couldn't hire anyone from the outside that could have that kind of influence. I think it's more about that. 

"There's probably some natural reaction when he's around where it feels like it did in '15 and '16 a little bit. But yeah, having him around is really valuable and I think he will have a big impact."