Cubs

Podcast: Bold predictions for the Cubs offseason

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USA TODAY

Podcast: Bold predictions for the Cubs offseason

With the MLB offseason about to kick off, we run down the boldest predictions for the Cubs winter from around the NBC Sports Chicago Cubs content team. Topics include where Bryce Harper and Manny Machado will sign, how much money they’ll get, what the Cardinals will do this winter, Cubs offseason trades and how Theo Epstein’s front office may add to the pitching staff.

 

One topic we could all agree on was David Ross' potential as Cubs bench coach if the incumbent Brandon Hyde ends up taking a job as manager for another team around the league.

 

Listen to the entire podcast here and check out all of our bold predictions below:

 

 

David Kaplan

 

—Anthony Rizzo and his new wife, Emily, will adopt Manny Machado, change his last name and see Manny Rizzo playing third base for the 2019 Cubs.

—Because of the Rizzo move, the Cubs will move Kris Bryant to a full-time outfielder.

—The Cubs will trade away Jose Quintana and sign Patrick Corbin.

—The Cubs will sign a pair of former Indians relievers for the back end of the bullpen in Andrew Miller and Cody Allen.

—The Cubs will trade Kyle Schwarber to the Royals for Whit Merrifield, who will start 155 games in the leadoff spot in the order.

—Joe Maddon will be a lot more consistent with the Cubs' lineup and batting order all season.

 

Kelly Crull

 

—Anthony and Emily Rizzo will receive more wedding gifts from Cubs fans than Kris and Jessica Bryan received.

—Anthony Rizzo will train this offseason so he will be able to sing — or play the piano — for the National Anthem at Wrigley in 2019.

—The Cubs will have no money left to remodel the media room at Wrigley Field.

 

Luke Stuckmeyer

 

—The Captain Morgan Club at Wrigley Field is going to be replaced by Kap's Kryo & Keto Korner.

—The Cubs will finally find a solution to the leadoff hitter issue.

 

Tony Andracki

 

—The Cubs sign Bryce Harper for less than $250 million. (He follows 23 people on Twitter)
—Manny Machado does not get a contract for more than $250 million, either.
—The Cardinals will sign Craig Kimbrel and either Machado or Josh Donaldson to play 3B. 

 

Rationale: St. Louis could really use the bat and closer and they have a sense of urgency in the division this winter we haven't seen from them in at least a decade. The Cubs and Brewers have clearly been better for two seasons now and look to have a better chance at contending than the Cardinals in 2019, as well. That can't be sitting well with the "Best Fans in Baseball." 

 

Jeff Nelson, producer

 

—The Cubs will trade 2 of the following players:  Kyle Schwarber, Ian Happ, Addison Russell, Albert Almora Jr.

—The Cardinals will sign Manny Machado to play third base.

—Because of construction delays, the visitors’ clubhouse will not be ready for the home opener, forcing the Pirates to dress at their hotel and come to the ballpark in full uniform.

Mike Piff, social media manager

—Cubs sign Nick Markakis.
—Cubs sign Tyson Ross.

Eric Strobel, producer

—The Cubs 2019 saves leader is not currently on the roster.

Rationale: We saw what happened to the bullpen in Brandon Morrow's absence; it got the job done by and large, but was not longer truly feared. Deep 'pens are the norm in October now with lockdown relievers being counted on more and more. The front office knows they can't truly entrust that kind of workload to Morrow with his injury history - Theo admitted as much in his end-of-season press conference. While they probably will not make a big splash, a huge focus of the offseason will be to surround Morrow/Strop/Edwards/etc. with as many talented arms as possible. The Cubs could very well enter next season without a designated closer, but if they do, it will not be Brandon Morrow.

Scott Changnon, multi-platform producer

—The Cubs will sign Bryce Harper.

Rationale: "I dunno, maybe."

Nate Poppen, producer

—Cubs sign Andrew McCutchen, plug him into CF and make Almora a 4th OF (or expendable)
—Bryce Harper signs with Yankees.
—Manny Machado signs with Angels.

Matt Buckman, producer

Non-roster prediction: The Cubs will welcome Sammy Sosa back to Wrigley Field. Sammy turns 50 this winter, and fueled by our wonderful documentary on 1998, the Cubs will finally mend their broken bond with Sammy and bring him back to Wrigley.

Roster prediction: The Cubs will trade Kyle Schwarber for a leadoff hitter. Joe has had to get very creative with the top of his order since Dexter Fowler left. Though the front office has downplayed the importance of a lead-off hitter the last two off-seasons, they will look to add one for 2019 so that Joe doesn’t have to be so creative. They won’t have a place to play Schwarber after they sign Harper so they will swap his power for a new “you go, we go” guy. Look at KC or TB as AL teams that need to add power and also have guys who could potentially lead off for the Cubs. Mallex Smith (TB) or Whit Merrifield (KC) would be interesting options.

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Sports Talk Live: Cubs convention edition

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Scott Changnon

Sports Talk Live: Cubs convention edition

On the latest Sports Talk Live Podcast we join David Kaplan and Kelly Crull at the Chicago Cubs Convention for interviews with Joe Maddon, Theo Epstein, Kris Bryant and many more.

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

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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Cubs understand fans' angst over slow winter, but insist they're working behind the scenes

Cubs understand fans' angst over slow winter, but insist they're working behind the scenes

Theo Epstein isn't trying out his hidden ball trick this winter.

He admitted as much during his annual press conference at Cubs Convention Friday evening at the Sheraton Grand Chicago, saying "it continues to be extremely unlikely" the Cubs will add a mega free agent this winter.

No, that wasn't one more ruse before the Cubs had Bryce Harper hop out from behind the curtain and run across the stage to surprise Cubs fans at Opening Ceremonies (a la Kerry Wood earlier this decade).

The only Harper descending upon Chicago was the winter storm creating Convention travel issues.

Obviously that's not what fans want to hear.

Epstein understands that. Joe Maddon understands that. The Cubs players understand that.

After a one-and-done playoff appearance last fall, Epstein sat at the podium during his season eulogy and passionately promised change coming for the team.

But we're three months into the offseason and the only notable addition to the roster is Daniel Descalso, a 32-year-old utility player.

"I'm not blind to that," Epstein said. "I get it. We've had meetings the last few days internally talking about the guys that we do have and the incredible talent that does exist in this organization and how we can learn from last year and continue to get the absolute most out of guys or take it to another level. 

"We have to be excused for being excited, because we are really optimistic about this season. But I completely get it from a fan's standpoint and I know there are a lot of questions out there. I actually appreciate that. Just to have fans that are as passionate about baseball and about winning and about the Cubs as we are, you can't take that for granted. 

"Even if the tone isn't what you always want sometimes, it's coming from the right place and it also reflects the fact that standards have been raised around here quite a bit. We're coming off a 95-win season, we've won more games than any other club the last four years and yet there are loud, legitimate questions from our fans. I think that's a good thing and I'm happy to provide answers the best I can. It just means there are fans who probably were with us through some pretty thin times who enjoyed the really good and even historic times with us and are eager for those to continue, as we are."

Epstein stopped short of calling fans "impatient" and corrected a reporter who used that term, instead calling the angst from fans "passion" and "expectations." 

The Cubs president of baseball operations has a reputation of being very aggressive during the offseason and not making a habit of resting on his laurels even after a successful season. 

Epstein and the Cubs have referenced their 95 wins in the regular season last year a lot this winter, but they also acknowledge they were caught from behind by the Brewers and didn't even make it to the National League Division Series.

This winter hasn't resulted in almost no change to the roster, but that doesn't mean the team won't be able to improve on last season.

"I understand the way things look from the outside in, especially in the winter," Epstein said. "We can't go out and win games in the winter and we can't go out and play hard in the winter. All we can do for the fans in the winter — in terms of public-facing — is adding players, and we haven't added as many players as we normally have. 

"But behind the scenes, there's an awful lot we do. I promise you and I promise our fans this is as hard as I've ever worked in an offseason. The results in terms of adding players aren't there. We think we've done a lot of good behind the scenes to learn some lessons from last year and try to put our best foot forward."