Cubs

Hoyer: Cubs will need pitching surplus

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Hoyer: Cubs will need pitching surplus

GLENDALE, Ariz. For an organization that has undergone sweeping changes, the Cubs dont really have many jobs open in camp. The hardest and most important decisions will be at the back end of the rotation.

I dont see a six-man rotation, especially early in the year, when you have extra days off, general manager Jed Hoyer said Sunday. I hope we have that problem. I hope the problem is because guys pitch well, not because they struggled down the stretch.

But Id love to have a quandary, so to speak. Were going to use eight, nine, 10 starters this year if were lucky. So the idea that we have, kind of, seven guys competing for five spots, thats an Opening Day issue. Thats not a season-long issue.

Ryan Dempster, Matt Garza and Paul Maholm are essentially locks. Hoyer declined to say whether the Cubs have made any progress with Garzas camp on a potential long-term extension.

Manager Dale Sveum has been raving about Jeff Samardzija, how hes on a mission and built to throw 200 innings. The Cubs also like the upside of Chris Volstad, whos 25 years old, 6-foot-8 and a former first-round pick.

Randy Wells has a track record in the big leagues (27-30, 4.01 ERA in 500-plus innings). The Cubs thought enough of Travis Wood to make him the centerpiece of the Sean Marshall trade with the Cincinnati Reds last December.

The Cubs could be looking at a surplus of starting pitching, which is exactly what they wanted to create over the winter. Rodrigo Lopez, Casey Coleman and Andy Sonnanstine are insurance against the injuries that devastated the Cubs last season.

Podcast: Cubs pass the first test in midst of crucial stretch

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Scott Changnon

Podcast: Cubs pass the first test in midst of crucial stretch

On the latest CubsTalk Podcast Scott Changnon and Tony Andracki discuss the state of the Cubs offense, the value of Javy Baez and Addison Russell and what it means now that the starting rotation looks to be finding its form.

With 17 games in 17 days (most of which come against contending teams), the Cubs started things off right with a series victory in St. Louis.

Listen to the entire podcast here:

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

NHL Draft Profile: D Quinn Hughes

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Quinn Hughes

Position: Defenseman
Height: 5-foot-10
Weight: 170 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"He's got the puck skills, is a good skater, and is a guy with some high-end offensive talent. He wants to get right in there and play where it's hard and where you get rewarded. When he gets that puck on his stick, he wants to bury it."

NHL player comparable: Torey Krug/Kris Letang

Fit for Blackhawks:

It's no secret the Blackhawks are looking to restock their pipeline with some high-end defensemen. Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell are on the way. But the former isn't a lock to be a full-time NHLer this season and the latter will continue playing in college for the 2018-19 season.

Hughes, who shined at Michigan and the IIHF World Championship with Team USA, would have the best chance of the three to crack the Blackhawks lineup first. The problem is, he likely won't be available at No. 8, so if Hughes is the guy they're locked in on, they'd need to trade up to grab him. 

If they did that, Hughes would give the Blackhawks a third blue line prospect they can get excited about. He's a left-handed shot, which evens out the balance in the system, and he would become a prime candidate to eventually replace Duncan Keith as the team's No. 1 defenseman.