Cubs unveil 2019 broadcast schedule for spring training and regular season


Cubs unveil 2019 broadcast schedule for spring training and regular season

The Cubs rolled out their broadcast schedule for the entire 2019, beginning with spring training. 

NBC Sports Chicago is set to air 83 regular season games and 2 spring training games, beginning with Cactus League contests on March 17 against the Colorado Rockies and March 25 against the Boston Red Sox. WGN will air 45 regular season games and ABC is set for 25 contests in 2019. The Cubs already have several games tabbed for ESPN, including three straight Sunday nights against the Cardinals (May 5), Brewers (May 12) and Nationals (May 19), with the first two coming at Wrigley Field. 

The Cubs regular season opener against the Rangers in Texas will air on WGN and NBC Sports Chicago will have the next three games on March 30-April 1. ABC 7 will broadcast the home opener on April 8 against the Pirates.

Here are some other highlights from the NBC Sports Chicago slate:

April 6-7: The final two games of the Cubs' first series against the rival Brewers in Milwaukee
April 12: Mike Trout and the Angels come to Wrigley Field for a Friday afternoon game
May 3: The Cardinals' first trip to Wrigley Field on a Friday afternoon
May 10: The Brewers' first trip to Wrigley Field on a Friday afternoon
May 20: The Phillies visit Chicago...with new free agent acquisition Manny Machado or Bryce Harper??
May 31: The Cubs' first game in boring old St. Louis since Kris Bryant's comedy-show comment that apparently triggered an entire major American city
July 12: The official kickoff of the season's second half as Cubs host Pirates
Sept. 1, 5-6, 8: Four games against the Brewers in the season's final month
Sept. 22: The final game of the Cubs' final homestand of the regular season against the Cardinals

Here is the complete Cubs regular season broadcast schedule:

All but a handful of the Cubs spring training games will be available to fans on TV, radio or audio via Len Kasper and Mick Gillispie are back again to team up for the internet radio broadcasts.

The Cubs' first Cactus League game is on Saturday, Feb. 23 against the Brewers — a natural opponent to reignite competition, even if it's just an exhibition game.

Here is the complete broadcast schedule for the Cubs spring training games:

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Willson Contreras and his boundless energy join Cubs All-Decade Team

Willson Contreras and his boundless energy join Cubs All-Decade Team

With the 2010s coming to a close, NBC Sports Chicago is unveiling its Cubs All-Decade Team, highlighting the players who made the biggest impacts on the organization from 2010-19.

It didn’t take long for Willson Contreras to introduce himself to Major League Baseball. On the first pitch he saw as a big-leaguer, the Cubs catcher cranked a two-run home run to center field — on Sunday Night Baseball, nonetheless.

That moment was a sign of things to come for Contreras, who has since established himself as one of the best catchers in baseball. The 27-year-old holds a career .267/.350/.470 line with a 117 wRC+ and 67 home runs in four seasons. He’s started back-to-back All-Star Games, the first Cubs catcher to do so since Gabby Hartnett (1937-38).

Contreras offers so much to the Cubs besides his bat. His cannon of an arm and athleticism behind the plate are integral to the Cubs controlling opposing run games. His pitch framing is a work in progress, and admittedly, he could improve in this area by throwing behind runners less, ensuring he gets strikes called.

However, back-picking is part of Contreras’ value. He may lose some strike calls by not sticking a frame, but there've been plenty of occasions where Contreras' arm has provided the Cubs with a spark. His boundless energy is unmeasurable, but its importance to the Cubs — who feed off of it — cannot be overstated.

There are areas where Contreras can improve, and that's a scary thought. But he's already is one of the best backstops in baseball and has earned the starting catcher spot on our Cubs All-Decade Team.

Also considered: Welington Castillo, Miguel Montero, David Ross, Geovany Soto

Cubs sign oft-injured reliever Brandon Morrow to minor-league deal


Cubs sign oft-injured reliever Brandon Morrow to minor-league deal

Brandon Morrow hasn’t pitched in a big-league game since July 2018, but he’ll get a shot at making a comeback next season.

Morrow is set to sign a minor league deal with the Cubs, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. It’s worth $1 million if he makes the Cubs' roster and could reach $2.25 million if Morrow makes 65 big-league appearances. 

Morrow hasn’t pitched since July 15, 2018, missing the second half of that season with right biceps inflammation. He underwent a debridement procedure on his right elbow last offseason, which was supposed to keep him out for the first month of the 2019 season. But Morrow suffered several setbacks and never pitched in 2019. 

Morrow’s agent, Joel Wolfe, told Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times last month that the right-hander feels a sense of loyalty to the Cubs after they stuck by him through thick and thin. He said Morrow was open to a minor league deal.

When he last pitched, Morrow was one of the most dominant closers in baseball. He posted a 1.47 ERA in 35 games in 2018, converting 22 of 24 save tries. He provided the Cubs with a power arm in the back of the bullpen, striking out 31 batters in 30 2/3 innings compared to nine walks.

For the Cubs, Morrow is a low-risk addition with high-reward potential. He told ESPN’s Jesse Rogers that his arm feels great. If he’s healthy, he could be a major contributor to the Cubs' bullpen.

This time, the Cubs won’t place such high expectations on the 35-year-old. They expect closer Craig Kimbrel to bounce back in 2020 with a normal offseason ahead of him. Kimbrel signed a three-year, $43 million deal with the Cubs last June and struggled mightily, posting a 6.53 ERA in 23 games.

If healthy, Morrow could prove to be a lethal weapon in front of Kimbrel. If he can’t stay healthy, it’s not like the Cubs are investing a lot of money in him, as they did two offseasons ago when Morrow signed a two-year, $21 million deal.

Simply put: if Morrow pans out, great. If he can’t stay healthy, the Cubs can move on without losing a large investment.