Cubs

Cubs Talk Podcast: Analyzing Theo Epstein’s end-of-season press conference

0112-theo-epstein.jpg
USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Analyzing Theo Epstein’s end-of-season press conference

Kelly Crull, Tony Andracki and Vinnie Duber recap and analyze Theo Epstein’s end-of-season press conference in which the Cubs president of baseball operations addressed topics such as Joe Maddon’s managing, the team’s season-long offensive woes, Addison Russell’s suspension and looking ahead to the franchise’s offseason. Plus, Luke Stuckmeyer and David DeJesus join Mark Schanowski to discuss potential shifts in the Cubs 2019 roster.

Listen to the full epsiode here or via the embedded player below:

 

With Machado in San Diego, the Cubs are adjusting to the new normal in NL

With Machado in San Diego, the Cubs are adjusting to the new normal in NL

MESA, Ariz. — The Cubs didn't spend the winter hanging out at the top of the market for free agents or trades, but they're about the only National League team that can claim that.

The NL was already pretty good a year ago and it looks to be even better in 2019, with maybe only 3 teams (the Marlins, Giants and Diamondbacks) who aren't trying to be competitive. (Then again, the Giants have been rumored to be a player for Bryce Harper, so it's entirely possible that list dwindles to just 2 teams by Opening Day.)

Manny Machado's record contract Tuesday morning helped solidfy the San Diego Padres as a serious player — if not in 2019, then in the very near future. 

That throws another team into the mix, joining the Cubs, Brewers, Cardinals, Nationals, Phillies, Braves, Dodgers and Rockies as serious contenders in addition to a few teams on the upswing even if they may not be playoff squads this year (Pirates, Reds, Mets).

With tanking and "rebuilding" popular trends in the game today, it's been a while since one league was as competitive as this.

"There are a lot of things about the game that we're doing right or people are disgruntled about," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said, "but as a fan, when you can look at a lot of different markets and feel like your team has a chance to compete for a division, I don't recall any other time where it's been like this. This is a good thing for where this game is at right now."

While the Cubs have been surprisingly quiet this winter, the rest of the NL had loaded up, with the talent changing leads very unequal. 

Here's the list of notable players moving from the American League to the NL this year:

Josh Donaldson
Robinson Cano
Edwin Diaz
Jeurys Familia
Andrew McCutchen
Jean Segura
David Robertson
Andrew Miller
Yan Gomes
Brian McCann
Sonny Gray
Russell Martin
Joe Kelly
Jed Lowrie
Ian Kinsler

Meanwhile, the list of talent going from the NL to the AL is basically D.J. LeMahieu, Adam Ottavino, Matt Harvey and a bunch of role players.

On top of that, many free agents chose to stay in the NL, led by Machado. There's still a bunch of talent on the open market (Harper, Craig Kimbrel, Dallas Keuchel, Marwin Gonzalez, etc.) that could wind up in the NL, too.

All that points to a tough road for the Cubs, a team that spent much of last year with the best record in the NL. The talent gap on paper has certainly shrunk.

But the Cubs still have plenty to focus on what's happening under their own roof, with a refocused mission and renewed sense of urgency.

"Things are cyclical — the American League was like that 3, 4, 5 years ago and they've had a number of teams that hit a different part of their cycle at this point in the AL," Cubs GM Jed Hoyer said. "But now that's what we have in the National League — where there's a cycle that it's hard to find a team that's not competitive, that doesn't have a chance.

"It means some lower win totals will probably win the division and be in the Wild-Card race. It means you just have to grind through every series. You're not gonna just look at your schedule and know you got some easy runs. It's changed.

"In '15 and '16, for example, in the National League, you could look at the schedule and you'd have some stretches where you felt like we gotta go 11-3 in those two weeks to feel good about it. That's not gonna be the case anymore and there's nothing wrong with that. You just gotta kinda readjust your sights a little bit."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Cubs easily on your device.

Cubs Talk Podcast: What does Manny Machado to the Padres mean for the Cubs?

1216_manny_machado.jpg
USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: What does Manny Machado to the Padres mean for the Cubs?

Luke, Kap and Chris Kamka react to the Manny Machado deal and the impact it has on the National League and the Cubs. Javy Baez talks about hustling and being accountable, and possible contract extension numbers for Baez and Kris Bryant are discussed.

00:00 - Welcome - Manny Machado signing and what it means for the National League. How many legitimate contenders are there in the N.L. with Bryce Harper likely to sign with a N.L. team as well?

2:20 - Are we really surprised Machado got his $300 million dollars? What we have learned from the Machado saga? Family did not matter. Location did not matter. Position did not matter. It was all about the money.

5:08 - What does this deal do to the "collusion" argument? Brad Brach's quotes about getting the same exact contract offer from multiple teams is discussed.

7:00 - Where does the Cubs / White Sox rivalry stand now that the Sox did not sign Machado?

7:54 - Javy Baez talks about being held accountable and how last season the team lacked that type of leadership and accountability at times.

9:45 - Chris Kamka delivers some clutch Cubs "hustle" stats.

11:20 - Kap says he talked to Jon Lester in Arizona, and that Lester knows the Cubs front office wants him to be more of a vocal leader in 2019. But Lester knows there are inherent difficulties for pitchers to try to motivate every-day players.

12:17 - MLB Network's list of the top shortstops in baseball is out. Where does Baez come in on that list?

13:15 - Machado gets $300 million - so what does that mean for guys like Kris Bryant and Javy Baez?

18:44 - Kap talks about the feeling among the players at Cubs camp. He says players are pissed off about the early exit and that some of the experts are picking them to lose more games than they win in 2019.

20:00 - When the Crosstown series rolls around, what are some realistic expectations for a pair of former Cubs prospects: Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease?

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: