Cubs

Cubs know NL Central is going to be a dogfight: 'We have our work cut out for us'

Cubs know NL Central is going to be a dogfight: 'We have our work cut out for us'

The last time the St. Louis Cardinals played a postseason game, Jason Heyward and John Lackey were wearing redbird logos and had yet to suit up for the Cubs while Trevor Cahill picked up the win and Hector Rondon notched the save for the Cubs at Wrigley Field.

In other words, it's been a really long time since the Cardinals played in October. 

They're trying hard to change that fact, going all-in for 2019 by acquiring perennial MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt in a trade with the Diamondbacks Wednesday. This comes after they pulled off a big deal with the Marlins last winter by trading for slugging outfielder Marcell Ozuna.

"It was a great division before that trade and even better now," Theo Epstein said Thursday. "To be expected. The Cardinals do a great job of producing young talent and have a lot of depth with young players.

"Last winter, it made a lot of sense to consolidate their young talent and their resources into one really impactful player and they did that with the Ozuna trade. Not having made the playoffs three years in a row and having that depth of young talent, we expected them to make another consolidation-type move for a great player and they certainly got a truly elite player in Paul Goldschmidt.

"It just reinforces that the NL Central is to be earned. We have our work cut out for us."

The Cubs' eyes are wide open about the Brewers as a rival after Milwaukee surged from second place to take the division from the North Siders in Game 163 just two months ago.

The Cardinals have been a legitimate contender in the division the last couple seasons but wound up falling short each year. Now, they just added one of the best players in the game and are ready for more. The only players the Cards lost off their big-league roster this winter were ancillary players — pitcher Luke Weaver (traded away in the Goldschmidt deal) and a trio of free agents in Bud Norris, Matt Adams and Tyson Ross. 

And don't forget about the Pittsburgh Pirates, who featured a pitching staff full of Cy Young canidates if you just watched the games they played against the Cubs last year. They made the big move for Chris Archer at the trade deadline last year and are only losing Jordy Mercer and Josh Harrison this winter and have already added outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall on a free-agent deal.

Even the Reds — who lost 95 games last year — have three All-Stars in their everyday lineup (Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez, Scooter Gennett) and have some young talent coming up through a farm system that ranks No. 6 in baseball by FanGraphs' valuation

As if the Cubs didn't have enough of their own problems to worry about with their "broken" offense and pitcher injuries, now they have to contend with a division that may be the strongest it's been in recent memory.

 

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Cubs reportedly interested in Troy Tulowitzki

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USA TODAY

Cubs reportedly interested in Troy Tulowitzki

According to MLB Insider Jon Heyman, the Cubs are one of the teams interested in free agent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. The 5-time All-Star will be holding a workout soon, with Chicago being one of the six teams reported to have a scout present at his workout.

Heyman did mention that while the Cubs aren’t necessarily the favorites right now, we will know how good of a chance they will have soon. Tulowitzki and his team are reported to be narrowing down their list to (at least) 6 teams.

Last season Tulowitzki played 66 games for the Blue Jays, batting .249 with 7 home runs and 26 RBI. For his career he is a .290 hitter and is looking for a bounce-back season after dealing with complications from bone spur injuries in both heels over the years.

Toronto has to pay the $38 million left on Tulowitzki's contract, freeing up other teams to sign the veteran to a more reasonable deal. Since the Blue Jays went the route of cutting him, teams can offer Tulowitzki a league minimum salary.

For the Cubs, he represents-however small-a chance to extract great value from a veteran player, which would be a big bonus considering how the Yu Darvish signing backfired in year one.

Tulowitzki is likely to be searching for playing time on a legit title contender, so if he can provide any solid offensive production going forward, he and the Cubs could be a solid match.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Winter Meetings recap

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Winter Meetings recap

When nothing happens in Vegas, it stays in Vegas. Luke, Kap and Tony talk about the Cubs lack of moves during the Winter Meetings.

In this episode of the Cubs Talk Podcast with Luke Stuckmeyer, David Kaplan and Tony Andracki:

00:10 - What happen in Vegas stays in Vegas and this year that means nothing. Luke, Kap & Tony talk Cubs lack of moves at Winter Meetings.

00:50 - Where the heck is all the money? This was supposed to be a wide-open window - we step on the accelerator.

01:25 - Cubs keep throwing money at the problem (Chatwood, Darvish) and it has become a cautionary tale.

02:50 - Are the Cubs playing at the shallow end of the kiddie pool?

03:50 - Tony talks about the volatility of the relief market.

05:15 - Where is the bullpen market? Brewers are making moves, but it's still "crickets" for the Cubs.

06:20 - Tony: Other than bullpen - Cubs have to address backup middle infielder most of all.

06:57 - Daniel Descalso rumors. Kap describes him as a grinder who fits the leadership mold.

07:47 - Luke is a little worried about Steve Cishek. He threw a career-high 70 innings last season.

09:34 - The guys talk about the possibility of a "second deadline" for the Winter Meetings to force clubs to make more moves.

11:06 - Luke: "I wanted to see Machado and Harper walking down the strip and making it rain!"

12:45 - Cubs still have so much to address. Some Cubs fans are starting to get a little itchy. Teams in the division are making moves. What about us?

14:45 - Question: Is Anthony Rizzo the third-best 1st baseman in the Central Division?

15:50 - Prediction time: What's biggest move the Cubs will make before opening day? Kap believes that Ian Happ will not be a Cub before the regular season starts.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Cubs Talk Podcast

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