Cubs mailbag: Money talk, a loaded NL Central and potential trades

Cubs mailbag: Money talk, a loaded NL Central and potential trades

Welcome to the first Cubs mailbag of 2019.

We tackle a plethora of issues Cubs fans are curious about at the moment including Bryce Harper (of course), Kris Bryant, potential trades, a loaded National League Central, the team's money woes and how Theo Epstein and Co. can avoid another late-season bullpen let down this year:

Will we have an answer by the time the Cubs convention starts next week on where Bryce Harper will be playing next year?Rob Bartel (@RobBartel)

Good question and I'm going to say "no." I truly have no idea when the Harper or Machado sweepstakes will end, but I believe Harper will wait until Machado signs so he and Scott Boras can ensure he will get the larger contract. Based on the way this winter and last winter have gone, I'm going to say we are still wondering where Harper will sign by Feb. 1, which would've seemed unfathomable just a few months ago.

what are they trying to improve as rest of the NL Central appears to be loading up? — Epic Arizona (@epicarizona)

The Cubs have maintained all winter they are very focused on improving the players they have on the roster and insist most of the answers are internal. It's totally understandable that fans are having a hard time swallowing that as a rationale after the way the 2018 team was eliminated in a brutal final couple days of the season. Epstein maintains his front office does not have much wiggle room in the budget, so the only real option has been trying to get creative (like the Daniel Descalso deal and Drew Smyly trade to clear room for Cole Hamels) while also focusing on making their current roster the best it could possibly be. You're right in that the rest of the division is loading up, as the Cardinals have had a great offseason, the Reds are markedly better than they were a year ago, the Pirates will have a full season of Chris Archer and the Brewers just woke up from a winter hibernation by signing the best catcher on the market. It's been a tough offseason for Cubs fans to stomach, no doubt.

Is it more likely the Cubs anticipate bounce back seasons by some fringe guys (Schwarber/Happ for example) and instead of signing FAs will look to make a splash in July moving some pieces? — Me. (@bigjuice9)

This coincides with the earlier question and it's a great point. Part of why the Cubs are not spending right now is because they always leave $5-$10 million for in-season moves to improve the team in July after the war of attrition either weakens the roster or shines a spotlight on the holes Epstein and Co. need to fill. Remember, this is still a team that won 95 games last year despite some disastrous pitching results (namely in the rotation early on), tough injury luck and down seasons from a host of core guys (Bryant, Contreras, etc.). Even if the Cubs don't add another player to their roster between now and Opening Day, they should still contend for the division and can always add reinforcements in-season.

Cubs are treading water. Not really a concern. Just an observation. — Mark Gunderson (@Gunny_83)

I have no argument otherwise at this moment. Their current roster is almost exactly the same as it was to end 2018, which certainly backs the "treading water" assessment.

We've seen our rivals compete fiercely with a smaller budget. Can the Cubs do the same? Can the Cubs get the best out of the players we sign without overpaying for performance? — Paul (@mrpchvz)

Well first off, the Cubs have anything but a "small" budget. I get fans want them to spend more and there is a sense of urgency to win another championship in this competitive window. But the Cubs are on pace to spend nearly $40 million more on payroll in 2019 than they have in any other season in franchise history. They will rank among the top payrolls in the game once again (for a fifth straight season) and it's possible they may have the highest payroll in baseball. Their budget is not "small" compared to their peers and it's certainly not "smaller" than any other year in Cubs history. But to answer the second part of your — yes, they can get the best out of players without overpaying. That's exactly what they're trying to do right now, both on their current roster (getting the most out of guys already under contract) and in regards to free agents (which is a big part of why they've been so quiet and not shopping at the top of the market to date).

I hear we (the Cubs) are trying to improve via trades instead of through free agency. What trades do we have on the burner that we should be watching for to go down? — Gabe Vantine (@GabeFranchise)

I can't say for sure what trades the Cubs have on the backburner, but a potential deal for a reliever is probably most likely to occur. The Cubs still need to improve their bullpen (ideally adding another proven arm or two) and insist they don't have much wiggle room on the current budget, so a trade makes sense in that regard. However, dealing for proven relievers on the trade market are always tricky maneuvers because bullpen arms are so volatile from year-to-year and the truly reliable, proven guys are going to cost a lot. But there are also always diamonds in the rough to find (think of the Jesse Chavez deal last July), so that is probably how the Cubs are going to add to their bullpen. At this point, it doesn't seem like a big trade will be coming down before spring training, but crazier things have happened.

Why is it that the Cubs elect to sign mid-level position players when better impact players are available through free agency or trade? I find this really frustrating. — Barb Trujillo (@barbtrujillo2)

You're certainly not alone in frustration, Barb. Seemingly every Cubs fan has at least some minor angst about their team's lack of movement this winter after a disappointing end to the 2018 campaign. However, I will remind you that it's still possible (however unlikely) the Cubs could sign Harper or Machado (or even a lower-tier guy like A.J. Pollock or D.J. LeMahieu) because those guys are currently free agents as of this writing. That being said, the Cubs opted for Daniel Descalso as their winter headliner to date because they already have a payroll projected north of $220 million (nearly $40 million higher than the previous franchise record for Opening Day payroll) and a complete roster of position players, many of whom are young, coming off down seasons and very well could improve significantly for 2019. In an ideal world, the Cubs would add another proven veteran bat to the lineup, but that seems to be more of a pipe dream than anything right now.

Can a healthy kris Bryant hit 40 hr's with 120 rbis this year? ​​​​​​​ Rowan Campbell (@RustaRow)

CAN he? Absolutely, especially if he's healthy. WILL he? I don't know specificially about those two categories, but I do expect Bryant to bounce back in a huge way in 2019 and re-establish himself as one of the best all-around players in baseball. Even if he only hits 25-30 homers and drives in 85-100 runs (and falls short of 40-120), he can still take steps forward if he continues to cut down on strikeouts, uses the whole field and draws a lot of walks to help set the table for the rest of the lineup behind him while playing quality defense at a bunch of different defensive positions.

The Cubs have obvious needs in the bullpen, what are they going to do to address them if the rumors about not having any money are true? —​​​​​​​ Charles Sullivan II (@emergentpattern)

The nice part about this is, every team around baseball can patch together a bullpen without spending a lot of money. It's just that it's a risky endeavor and generally is much safer to pay market value for reliable, proven arms on short-term deals. But relievers can pop up out of nowhere whether it's a journeyman who finally puts it all together (Chavez), a young kid who takes the next step (Dillon Maples or Dakota Mekkes maybe?) or guys picked up off the scrap heap (Randy Rosario, Jorge De La Rosa). Look for the Cubs to invite a handful of quasi-familiar names to spring training as non-roster guys to vie for a spot in the bullpen and maybe sign veterans in free agency on low-cost, prove-it deals (think Zach Duke or John Axford). As much as anything, the Cubs are focused on trying to get the most out of the pitchers they already have on the roster (Brian Duensing, Brandon Kintzler, Alec Mills, etc.).

We need a closer. Morrow is too fragile. What are the chances of us signing Cody Allen and would he be a great fit for the Cubs? Kimbrel is out there, but you don't want to pay that much to a closer considering what Kimbrel has asked for. —​​​​​​​ Brandon Hembrough (@BrandonJHembro)

Morrow is expected to miss at least the first couple weeks of the season after a surgical procedure on his elbow coming off last season's bone bruise. So right now, the Cubs appear to be deploying Pedro Strop as their closer to begin 2019 and you're right in that it's impossible to rely too heavily on Morrow moving forward. Still, it's nearly impossible to see the Cubs shopping at the top of the relief market with their stated budget woes, so don't expect Craig Kimbrel or Cody Allen to be donning Cubbie blue next year.

Aside from Harper and Machado, who do you see the @Cubs go after? —​​​​​​​ Chris Myers (@Carolinabearfan)

I've addressed this at different parts in earlier questions, but I think the Cubs will still add another reliever or two on smaller deals and probably a veteran backup catcher (most likely of the journeyman variety like Chris Gimenez last year).

Where will the money come from to keep Bryant, Rizzo and Baez career Cubbies? —​​​​​​​ Justin Deas (@GoCubbies22)

The trio you mentioned are not free agents until after the 2021 season and at the moment, the Cubs only have $43.5 million committed to the 2022 roster in the form of Jason Heyward ($24.5 million) and Yu Darvish ($19 million). Of course, the only other players under any team control at that point are Willson Contreras, Albert Almora Jr. and Carl Edwards Jr. (who will all be in their final years before free agency) plus Ian Happ and David Bote, so the Cubs will have plenty of holes on the roster to fill (namely on the pitching staff). The Cubs could afford to keep Bryant, Rizzo and Baez Cubs for life strictly from a financial standpoint, but it will be a matter of if they want to meet the asking price and where the payroll budget is at that point in time. Rizzo has already given the Cubs a massive discount with his current contract and at age 32 when he hits free agency, it will likely be his only chance to truly cash in. Bryant will be 30 and Baez 29, so it may be their only shot at a megadeal, as well. It will certainly be hard to retain all three players and right now, it seems like Bryant is destined to hit free agency and sign elsewhere.

Where is Bryce Harper? —​​​​​​​ Crazy Sicilian (@ItalianMade35)

I dunno...Vegas still?

What is your favorite MLB stadium to visit and why? —​​​​​​​ Rob Bartel (@RobBartel)

Good question. I have not been to every stadium (right now, Coors Field is No. 1 on my baseball park bucket list), but the answer here is PNC Park in Pittsburgh. I'm a sucker for stadiums on the water and this is right on top of the river. It's an all-around gorgeous stadium and area. I've also attended a game there as a fan and love the migration of foot traffic on the bridge before/after games. Plus, the first time I ever stepped foot in the park was also the first playoff game I ever covered (2015 NL Wild-Card Game) and that was a truly thrilling experience, so it definitely colors my perception of the ballpark in a positive light.

Will the Bears ever stop letting me down? —​​​​​​​ Scott Krinch (@scottiekrinch)

Nope. Though, to be fair, the 2018 Bears season was a resounding success by any measure and only one fanbase a season actually gets to avoid the "letdown" feeling. I think the Bears are in as good a position as any over the next few years to contend, so maybe the answer will eventually be "yes"?

Is the bachelor fantasy league a real thing? The scoring format? The draft? —​​​​​​​ Nathan Combs (@NathanCombs)

Oh, it's very real. It's pretty fun, too. I'm not a fan of the show and the only time I've ever watched "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette" was a couple years ago with my first Bachelor Fantasy League. This is my second go-round and I was more excited to do it based on the fact Colton Underwood (this year's "Bachelor") played football at my alma mater Illinois State and is from Illinois/Indiana. The scoring format is based on survivor format (aka, not getting sent home), individual dates, special bonsuses, etc. But there are also fun scoring like first person to cry, use of props, mentions of certain things (pets, kids, jokes), etc.

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Top 20 MLB Draft prospects: Who will Cubs take with No. 16 pick?

Top 20 MLB Draft prospects: Who will Cubs take with No. 16 pick?

Stick with what works or keep trying to fix what’s broken?

That’s what faces the Cubs in the first round of next week’s MLB Draft.

The Cubs have had an incredible stretch of selecting position players with their first-round picks since Theo Epstein & Co. took over: Albert Almora, Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ and Nico Hoerner. But with the farm system failing to produce much in the way of impact pitching at the big league level, they’ve stocked up on pitching recently, with three first-round picks in the last three drafts spent on pitchers: Brendon Little, Alex Lange and Ryan Jensen.

After missing the playoffs for the first time in the last five years, the Cubs have their highest draft pick since taking Happ with the No. 9 selection in 2015. This year, they’ll pick at No. 16.

But this year’s draft is going to look a lot different for plenty of other reasons, with only five rounds as owners look to cut costs. Revenues are expected to dip dramatically with the 2020 season impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and eliminating the millions handed out to draft picks as signing bonuses is one move amid the financial maneuvering. But nonetheless, when the first round is all said and done June 10, the Cubs will walk away with a talented player to add to their bright future.

Who will they take? Baseball teams don’t draft for need like NFL and NBA teams do, so looking at the big league roster and even the minor league system, as a whole, offers little in the way of clues to even what position the Cubs will spend their top pick on.

So here’s a look at the top 20 prospects in the draft, as rated by the folks over at MLB Pipeline. One of them could be the next hyped Cubs prospect.

1. Spencer Torkelson, 1B, Arizona State University

A power-hitting Pac-12 first baseman, Torkelson is getting compared to White Sox prospect Andrew Vaughn, who was the No. 3 overall pick last summer. Torkelson hit a combined 48 homers during his freshman and sophomore seasons and walked 31 times in just 17 games before his junior season was halted by the coronavirus. The Cubs likely won’t have the opportunity to draft him, though. MLB Pipeline’s Jonathan Mayo has Torkelson going No. 1 overall to the Tigers in his mock draft.

2. Austin Martin, OF/3B, Vanderbilt University

Described by MLB Pipeline as “the best pure hitter in the draft,” Martin has plenty of versatility. He played third base, center field and a few other positions at Vandy. But the bat’s the thing. He posted a .410 batting average and a .503 on-base percentage in 59 games during the 2019 season. Mayo’s got Martin going No. 2 to the Orioles, who took college baseball’s best player, Adley Rutschman, with the No. 1 pick a year ago.

3. Asa Lacy, LHP, Texas A&M University

A hard-throwing lefty, Lacy dominated during his sophomore season, with a 2.13 ERA in 15 starts. He struck out 130 opposing batters in 88.2 innings. And he was on his way toward following that up this year, too, having allowed just two runs in his first four starts of the season. Mayo has Lacy going to the Marlins with the No. 3 pick.

4. Emerson Hancock, RHP, University of Georgia

In his first 10 starts last season, Hancock allowed just eight runs. A lat injury knocked him out for two weeks, but his numbers still looked mighty good at season’s end: a 1.99 ERA with just 20 earned runs allowed in 14 starts. He struck out 97 and walked only 18. Mayo’s projection has Hancock going to the Mariners with the No. 6 pick.

5. Nick Gonzales, SS/2B, New Mexico State University

The MVP of last summer’s wood-bat Cape Cod League, Gonzales can hit. He put up insane numbers as a sophomore, with a .432 batting average, a .532 on-base percentage and a bonkers 1.305 OPS. In the small sample size that was the 16 games he got to play as a junior, he was even more ridiculous, getting on base at a .610 clip and homering 12 times in 16 games to contribute to a mind-scrambling 1.765 OPS. Cubs fans might not want to hold out hope of Gonzales landing on the North Side: Mayo’s got him going to the Royals at No. 4.

6. Garrett Mitchell, OF, University of California-Los Angeles

He’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast, he plays center field. Sounds like the kind of guy a lot of big league clubs would want to mold into a star. Mitchell had 12 triples, 41 RBIs and 18 stolen bases in 62 games as a sophomore last year for the Bruins and a .984 OPS that will make anyone pay attention. But he didn’t hit that many homers, and that’s why Mayo has him all the way down at No. 17 in his mock draft.

7. Zac Veen, OF, Spruce Creek High School (Florida)

Rated as the best high school hitter in the draft, Veen is a lefty who MLB Pipeline said has “reminded some of Cody Bellinger offensively.” That sounds good. They say he might not stick in center field, but he’s got enough talent to rank as the lone high schooler in the site’s top 10 list. Mayo’s got him as the fifth player off the board, going to the Blue Jays.

8. Reid Detmers, LHP, University of Louisville

An Illinois native, from Chatham, south of Springfield, MLB Pipeline calls Detmers “the most polished left-hander available.” A strong sophomore season helped the Cardinals reach the College World Series last year. He logged a 2.85 ERA in 17 starts, with 162 strikeouts compared to just 27 walks. Before this season came to a sudden end, he struck out 48 batters in only 22 innings. In his mock draft, Mayo has Detmers heading to the Pirates with the No. 7 pick, perhaps the Illinois native eventually terrorizing his home-state team with a division rival.

9. Max Meyer, RHP, University of Minnesota

The Twins drafted this Land of 10,000 Lakes product back in 2017. But he didn’t sign, and after winning 100 games last season, they likely won’t get a crack at Meyer this time around. He was moved from the bullpen to the rotation in the middle of last season, and in 16 appearances overall, he posted a 2.11 ERA. He was doing more of the same this year, with a 1.95 ERA in four starts. MLB Pipeline says he’s got the best slider in the draft, so he might not slide very far down the board. Mayo’s got him going to the Padres at No. 8.

10. Heston Kjerstad, OF, University of Arkansas

MLB Pipeline says Kjerstad, who reached the College World Series in each of his first two college seasons, is second only to the top-ranked prospect, Torkelson, when it comes to power. He might not be the fastest, but he can mash, with 30 home runs and 108 RBIs in 132 career college games. He was off to the races this season, with a 1.304 OPS in 16 games. If Mayo’s mock hits, Kjerstad could see those college power numbers become big league reality, forecasted to go to the Rockies at No. 9.

RELATED: 2020 MLB Draft to be held remotely, like NFL Draft before it

11. Mick Abel, RHP, Jesuit High School (Oregon)

The highest ranked high school pitcher in the draft, Abel was the Gatorade Player of the Year in the Beaver State after winning the state title there. Mayo has him going to the Giants at No. 13.

12. Jared Kelley, RHP, Refugio High School (Texas)

The top-ranked high school pitcher when the year started, Kelley is said to be the Lone Star State’s finest high school arm in a decade. The kid can chuck, and MLB Pipeline says he “has the look of a frontline starter who could reach the big leagues before he turns 21.” OK then. Mayo has him falling to the Mets at No. 19.

13. Austin Hendrick, OF, West Allegheny High School (Pennsylvania)

While the Cubs are picking at No. 16, they could get themselves a steal, should the projections and evaluations of the folks at MLB Pipeline play out. Mayo has Hendrick falling to the Cubs in his mock draft. With plenty of left-handed power, Hendrick could one day be a heavy-hitting right fielder in the majors. MLB Pipeline says “there isn't a high school hitter in the country with more upside.” Strikeouts are mentioned as a concern, but that’s usually not too big a problem as long as he keeps hitting balls into the seats — or if Mayo’s mock comes true, onto Sheffield Avenue.

14. Nick Bitsko, RHP, Central Bucks East High School (Pennsylvania)

An early high school graduate, when Bitsko’s drafted next month, it will come a few days before his 18th birthday. It could be a very nice birthday present for the 6-foot-4 17-year-old, who got a rave review from MLB Pipeline for his command. But Mayo doesn’t even have him going in the first round of his mock draft, perhaps a reflection of Bitsko’s commitment to the University of Virginia.

15. Ed Howard, SS, Mount Carmel High School (Illinois)

A Chicago native, Howard was a member of the Jackie Robinson West team that finished runner up in the Little League World Series in 2014. There are plenty of fans who would love to see the hometown team take a local kid at No. 16 in the draft. MLB Pipeline describes him as a “smooth defender” with quick hands and a strong arm who makes “repeated strong contact” to go along with good speed and a high baseball IQ. He’s now the Land of Lincoln’s Gatorade Player of the Year, too.

But will the Cubs grab him if he’s there at No. 16? Mayo has Howard sliding all the way to No. 27 — where the Twins, who employed homestater Joe Mauer for quite some time, could provide a reminder of why not to pass on the kids from your own backyard.

16. Robert Hassell, OF, Independence High School (Tennessee)

As mentioned, any of the above players could certainly fall to the Cubs at No. 16. But while one or more of the top 15 prospects could still be around when they go on the clock, they’re guaranteed at least one of the players ranked in the top 16, a number that gets bigger the further down the list we go. Described as “the best pure hitter in the 2020 prep class,” the left-handed hitting Hassell starred for Team USA last September. He’s also a bit of a two-way star, with MLB Pipeline calling him “a legitimate prospect as a pitcher, as well,” though a much better one as a hitter. He’s committed to reigning College World Series champion Vanderbilt University, but Mayo has him mocked as a top-10 pick, going to the Angels at No. 10.

17. Patrick Bailey, C, North Carolina State University

Bailey is expected to be the first catcher off the board, and his offensive numbers from college are pretty excellent: a career .322/.429/.602 slash line in 84 games with the Wolfpack. His 13 homers as a freshman two years ago set a school record. But Bailey’s strength is his defense, with MLB Pipeline saying “he's more athletic and moves better than most catchers.” Mayo has the White Sox selecting Bailey with the No. 11 pick.

18. Garrett Crochet, LHP, University of Tennessee

Towering at 6-foot-6, Crochet can whip it, with his fastball reaching triple digits last fall. Striking out 81 batters in 65 innings, he pitched the Volunteers to the program’s first-ever win in the NCAA tournament last year but raised some red flags this year, limited with shoulder soreness. Mayo has him going to the Rangers at No. 14.

19. Tyler Soderstrom, C, Turlock High School (California)

The backup catcher on his own high school team, Soderstrom is described as a better hitter than he is a defender. But he’s good enough with the bat — “polished” is the word MLB Pipeline used to describe the left-handed hitter — to rank pretty high among the draft’s best prospects. Mayo has him going to the Phillies at No. 15.

20. Pete Crow-Armstrong, OF, Harvard-Westlake High School (California)

If the name of that high school sounds familiar, it’s becoming a bit of a baseball factory. White Sox ace Lucas Giolito, Cardinals young gun Jack Flaherty and Braves pitcher Max Fried all played on the same team. Crow-Armstrong is set to be the fifth player drafted out of Harvard-Westlake in the last nine years. How high will he go? Strikeouts and power are listed as potential concerns, but he’s fast and MLB Pipeline says he “might be the best defensive outfielder in the class.” Mayo’s got him going to the Diamondbacks at No. 18.

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Why former Cub Bobby Scales, now a baseball exec, needed to 'make my voice known'

Why former Cub Bobby Scales, now a baseball exec, needed to 'make my voice known'

Bobby Scales held up a lime-green object so the others on the Zoom session could see it.

“This is my cell phone case. It’s neon green. I hate this thing,” said the former Cubs infielder who’s now the minor-league field coordinator for the Pirates.

“The reason I keep it neon green is because if I get pulled over, and I’m sitting in my car and it’s in my cupholder, there’s no thought that that’s a gun,” he said. “You’re not going to say I went to draw for something.”

It’s one of several examples Scales shared on the latest episode of the Cubs Talk Podcast of the countless ways being black in America impacts daily thoughts and actions, some smaller, some larger and all collectively exhausting, especially at what might be a “tipping point” moment for the country after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Scales, 42, was a feel-good story for the Cubs in 2009 when he made his big-league debut after persevering through a decade in the minors. He was also a rarity as one of a dwindling number of African-American players in the the majors.

He’s even more of a rarity in that regard as a front-office executive in a sport that has become even whiter in its executive and on-field management positions in recent years.

Scales, a passionate advocate for a game that might be reaching its own cultural tipping point, talks about the power of sports to drive public discourse and change, as well as the shortcomings MLB faces in that effort as “one of the true last bastions of the real old boys’ network.”

Baseball lags behind the other major American sports in tolerating political or social advocacy, never mind dissent. And its fewer and fewer non-white American insiders have found stronger voices in this national moment of outrage and protest — whether it’s former Cubs outfielder Dexter Fowler on social media, Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward on the airwaves or Scales this week on a Chicago podcast.

RELATED: Cubs' Jason Heyward on racial injustice: 'It feels like a broken record'

Baseball might be a tough culture from which to speak out.

“But that doesn’t mean you [should] be afraid to do so,” Scales said. “That’s why I’ve made my voice known.”

Scales, who talked briefly with the Cubs about a front office job at a time he wanted instead to keep playing in Japan, eventually became a farm director for the Angels before joining the Pirates and is considered a rising star among executives in the game.

That could make him one of its more important voices for the kind of change urgently needed in a sport that long ago began losing its appeal with younger Americans, that has a pace-of-play problem, that clings to a culture of “unwritten rules” that discourage bat flips and fist pumps (read: joy), and that has a growing racial gap to bridge in this country — certainly compared to the participants and fans of football and basketball.

“I love this game. I don’t want to have to love another game,” Scales said. “I love this game. I want to work in this game. I want to effect change. I want to affect the lives of young men, in this game. So I want the best for it, too.”

It’s a game that for better and for worse has often reflected American culture, from its six decades of strident segregation to its seven decades of imperfect integration and all its labor battles, drug scandals and tech booms throughout.

And if this moment of outrage and backlash in American history actually is the tipping point that leads, finally, to measurable change in a way that the deaths of Amadou Diallo (1999), Eric Garner (2014) or Sandra Bland (2015) did not, then maybe there’s even hope for a more outspoken and inclusive culture in baseball.

“Every white listener of this podcast, I want you to understand,” said Scales, whose family history includes a great grandmother who marched on “Bloody Sunday” in 1965 across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.

“One, we’re not making this stuff up,” he said. “This stuff is real; it happens every day. And, two, we’re really, really over it. 

“It’s time. Give it up. 

“What are we so scared of in this country that we cannot talk through?”

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