Cubs

Jose Quintana can't wait to face Eloy Jimenez someday

Jose Quintana can't wait to face Eloy Jimenez someday

One year after arguably the biggest trade ever between the Cubs and White Sox, both sides are feeling pretty happy with their returns.

Jose Quintana has had a bit of a disappointing 2018 campaign overall, but he's been really solid lately, posting a 3.00 ERA and 1.27 WHIP since April 22 — a span of 14 starts.

He struggled in two starts against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League Championship Series last fall, but shut the Nationals down in two games (one start, one relief appearance) in the NLDS, allowing only 3 hits and a pair of walks in 6.1 innings.

All told, Quintana is 15-9 with a 3.86 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 185 strikeouts in 182 innings a Cubs uniform.

Meanwhile, the White Sox boast one of the strongest farm systems in the game thanks to Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease, the main pieces from the Cubs for Quintana last summer.

Jimenez has a .313 average, .912 OPS, 12 homers and 46 RBI in 65 games this season between Double-A Birmingham and Triple-A Charlotte. The 21-year-old outfielder was ranked the No. 4 prospect in the game by Baseball America prior to the 2018 campaign.

Cease is a bit further away from Chicago, but the 22-year-old is also having a strong season. He's 10-2 with a 2.95 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 10.7 K/9 in 16 starts this year, with his last 3 outings coming for Double-A Birmingham.

Some Cubs fans may be expecting an ace out of Quintana, but there's enormous value in a guy that's under team control through the 2020 season and due just over $30 million for the 3.5 seasons' worth of contributions.

Still, Quintana understands it was a hefty cost the Cubs paid for his services and he embraces the challenge.

"These guys are gonna be All-Stars,"  Quintana said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "I've heard good things. I want to continue to do the best I can, but I know it was a huge trade. I know [the Cubs] paid a lot for me. That's a good feeling, you know? 

"It helps that [Jimenez and Cease] are doing good. I know they're younger, but it's amazing to be in that trade. I'm more happy right now to be here. Best of luck to them. 

"One time I'm going to face Jimenez, too, so I'm going to enjoy that."

We may not have to wait long to find out: The Cubs head to the South Side Sept. 21-23 for a 3-game set, when Jimenez could be getting his first taste of MLB life as a September call-up for the White Sox.

Jon Lester and Anthony Rizzo make surprise 'appearances' at Cubs Convention

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@CUBS

Jon Lester and Anthony Rizzo make surprise 'appearances' at Cubs Convention

Technology sure is neat.

Friday, Cubs All-Stars Jon Lester and Anthony Rizzo were noticably absent from the opening ceremonies of Cubs Convention. As two of the team's premier players, fans surely felt their absences at the annual event.

Thanks to the power of FaceTime, though, both Lester and Rizzo were able to "appear" at the convention on Saturday. Kris Bryant called Rizzo while on stage during a panel, while Lester appeared at a side station. Check it out:

Lester has been golfing in Florida this week (with good friend John Lackey, one might add). Rizzo recently got married, but it is unclear if his absence is honeymoon related or not.

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Kris Bryant owns St. Louis, pisses off Cardinal Nation

Kris Bryant owns St. Louis, pisses off Cardinal Nation

As far as Cubs fans are concerned, Kris Bryant is saying and doing all the right things in advance of what may be a major bounceback season for the former NL MVP.

Bryant assured everybody his shoulder is feeling great Friday evening and he's shown his standard one-handed finish in offseason workout videos.

He also cracked a couple jokes at his Cubs Convention panel, from serving as a resident "hitting poet" to playing up his wholesome image.

Bryant also managed to piss off Cardinals Nation, much to the delight of Cubs fans.

Bryant was a guest on Ryan Dempster's talk show Friday night at the Sheraton Grand Chicago and the topic of Bryce Harper came up (of course) along with Nelly, whom the two baseball superstars were photographed with over the winter. 

As Harper continues his free agent tour, Nelly apparently tried to pitch the superstar on St. Louis, the hometown of the rapper.

Fans booed when Bryant reminded everybody Nelly is a diehard Cardinals fan.

"Yeah, boo," Bryant said. "He was trying to work the magic on Bryce. Who would want to play in St. Louis? Boring. So boring. 

"I always get asked, 'Where would you like to play? Where would you not like to play?' St. Louis is on the list of places I don't like to play. It is rough."

Cubs fans absolutely loved it, of course, but those comments are not going over well in the shadow of the arch:

Even Cardinals reliever John Brebbia apparently took exception to Bryant's comments, reportedly calling the Cubs slugger a "loser" at their own fan convention over the weekend:

In addition to Brebbia's comment, Yadier Molina weighed in on Instagram, indirectly calling Bryant and Dempster "stupid players" and said they should have more respect:

All stars, elite players and leaders of their teams do not speak bad about any city. There should be respect and you should play and compete with respect... only stupid players and losers make comments like the ones made by bryant and dempster ..
#ceroRespectforthisstupidplayers
#QuevivaStlouis #LOVESTL

Cardinals outfielder Marcell Ozuna responded to Molina's Instagram, saying, "From outside they speak and talk like tiger but at the end they gonna be like little cat."

Daniel Descalso is the only main addition to the Cubs this winter, but he's also a guy who came up with the Cardinals and spent the first 5 years of his career in St. Louis. But now he's on the North Side of the rivalry and when asked Saturday afternoon which fan convention is better - Cubs or Cardinals - Descalso didn't miss a beat and said "this one." (Then again, what else is he supposed to say??)

The NL Central already promised to be one of the most interesting divisions in baseball in 2019. The Cubs-Brewers rivalry (or not, if you ask Cole Hamels) took center stage last year, but Cubs-Cardinals may be getting the fire back if this early trash talk is any indication.