Cubs

Why Zach Britton no longer makes sense for Cubs team going in different direction with bullpen

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USA TODAY

Why Zach Britton no longer makes sense for Cubs team going in different direction with bullpen

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Cubs executives who checked out of the Waldorf Astoria Orlando on Wednesday had to ask the Baltimore Orioles again about Zach Britton. But any standard due diligence during the general manager meetings doesn’t mean Britton will follow Aroldis Chapman and Wade Davis as the next All-Star rental closer at Wrigley Field.

Whatever window that might have been open probably closed right before the July 31 trade deadline, sources said, when the Cubs found Baltimore’s asking price to be too high, wondered if internal issues might prevent the Orioles from actually going through with a Britton deal and then pivoted to acquire their other targeted lefty reliever – Justin Wilson – from the Detroit Tigers.

To find a ninth-inning solution, the Cubs have identified options like converted starter/setup guy Brandon Morrow, who shut them down during the National League Championship Series and appeared in 14 of 15 playoff games for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Cubs are also expected to monitor Addison Reed, who closed for the White Sox earlier in his career, pitched in pennant races with the New York Mets and Boston Red Sox and will be only 29 next season.

The Cubs still want to be in the loop with Davis, in case he isn’t overwhelmed with the kind of four-year, $62 million contract the San Francisco Giants gave Mark Melancon last winter and needs to find a good landing spot when so many of the traditional large-market, big-spending teams already have established closers or are in rebuilding/cost-cutting modes.

The Cubs also realize this a deep group of free-agent relievers who might feel the supply-and-demand squeeze this offseason. Even if it takes until January – weeks after the industry returns to Florida for the winter meetings – the Cubs can round out their bullpen later with short-term deals for established relievers who aren’t necessarily part of that top tier. 

No doubt, Britton is an elite talent, though a strained left forearm limited him to only 37.1 innings last season. MLB Trade Rumors projected he will make $12.2 million through the arbitration system in 2018, his last year before free agency.

The Cubs could justify giving up Gleyber Torres in the Chapman trade with the New York Yankees because they had a legitimate World Series contender and were near the end of the 108-year championship drought.

The Cubs saw Jorge Soler as a diminishing asset with limited opportunities to play at Wrigley Field and decided to move the Cuban outfielder in the Davis deal with the Kansas City Royals during last year’s winter meetings.

On all levels, president of baseball operations Theo Epstein doesn’t really feel that same sense of urgency for that kind of trade now.

Broadly speaking, Epstein said, “You definitely don’t want to make it a habit to give up five, six years of control for one year of control back.”

Twitter user shaming Astros post-cheating scandal is a Cubs fan

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USA TODAY

Twitter user shaming Astros post-cheating scandal is a Cubs fan

Twitter user @AsterikTour has gained notoriety recently for constantly barraging the Houston Astros in the aftermath of their cheating scandal. The account (appropriately named “2020 Astros Shame Tour”) has amassed 118,000 followers and pulls no punches with its intentions. From the account’s bio:

One year to shame them all, one year to jeer them, one year to boo them all and from your seat deride them.

Asterik Tour’s sadistic nature towards the Astros leads one to believe the account's mastermind is a Yankees or Dodgers fan. Houston stole signs in 2017, when they beat New York (ALCS) and Los Angeles (World Series) in the postseason. The account's architect is a fan of neither squad, however.

27-year-old Brendan Donley is a Cubs fan.

*Gasps*

According to the Washington Post, Donley, who lives in Michigan, became obsessed with the fallout of Houston’s scandal. He wanted a centralized location to keep up with all things Astros and took matters into his own hands.

“If I’m obsessed, I figured maybe other people are, too,” Donley told the Washington Post

Donley posts memes relating to the scandal, videos of Astros players getting plunked in spring training games and fan-made signs jeering the club. He made it clear he doesn't wish for the players to be harmed but didn't think much of the team's apologies post-scandal.

“For some people, there’s nothing they could say that could return them to good graces," Donley said, "but for a lot of us, if you just said ‘I’m really sorry, I know I did something wrong, I’ll never do it again and we feel ashamed for what we’ve done,’ I feel like people would accept that.”

That's a fair assessment. The fact a Cubs fan is so passionate on the scandal shows the scrutiny towards Houston isn't going away anytime soon.

Cubs Talk Podcast: Ross-ter Rundown: Can Jon Lester bring it for 1 more year?

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USA TODAY

Cubs Talk Podcast: Ross-ter Rundown: Can Jon Lester bring it for 1 more year?

As the season draws closer, it's time to discuss every player that will be on the final roster on Opening Day. We start with Cubs veteran pitcher Jon Lester.

Jeff Nelson sits in for David Kaplan and is joined by NBCS Cubs writer Tim Stebbins and NBCS producer Nate Poppen to debate if Jon Lester can help stabilize the starting rotation for at least one more season, and where do you place him in the rotation.

(1:37) - One word to describe Jon Lester

(5:42) - Lester didn't start his Cubs career very well

(10:40) - Lester eventually proved why he got the contract

(14:40) - How will the relationship change between Jon Lester and David Ross

(19:00) - Lester's inability to throw to first base

(23:00) - Projections for Lester in the 2020 season

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

Cubs Talk Podcast

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