Cubs Extend Front Office Contracts

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On a dreary, chilly, and rainy Wednesday in Chicago, the Cubs were making their fans smile. After four meetings this past summer, the Cubs finalized a deal with President Theo Epstein, General Manager Jed Hoyer, and Director of Player Development Jason McLeod that will extend all three of their contracts for several more years.

The “big” contract out of the deal is that of Theo Epstein, who is responsible for all of the team’s successes this season and last. His contract is a five year, $50 million dollar extension.

Jason McLeod had an interview with the Minnesota Twins recently for a position like Theo’s, however he chose to stay in Chicago.

After getting all the details finalized Saturday, the Cubs planned to announce the news on Sunday, but chose not to out of respect for the passing of Jose Fernandez, which is the right thing to do.

This is only the start of something special, there’s still many more years ahead, with each year getting better and better.

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Connor Jennings @ChiCubsUpdates

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What We Can Learn From David Ross

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David Ross has always been someone to look up to in my mind. That was especially true yesterday, as it was a very emotional day in the sports world with the passing of Marlins’ pitcher Jośe Fernandez as well as the passing of “The King”, Arnold Palmer.

Joe Maddon took Ross out of the game in the top of the seventh inning last night. To me, it shows the respect Joe has for David.

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David Ross is described as “one of the nicest guys in the game.” It is very clear to those who are around this team that he is the leader in the clubhouse. Last night, Ross got several standing ovations. The one that stood out to me was when he hit a home run to give the Cubs the lead. What better way to go out than hitting a home run?

There has been so much negativity on the world of sports lately. Whether it’s kneeling during the national anthem, assaulting your girlfriend, opening your mouth about something that does not pertain to you one bit. You don’t see that with David Ross. You don’t see that from the Cubs. You don’t see that in baseball. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it many more times: Baseball players get it. They don’t have an ego, they don’t conduct themselves poorly, and they don’t disrespect who and what they play for. I respect the game of baseball and its history so much.

Every player you come across teaches you how to be human being. Anthony Rizzo is the perfect example. As all of you know, he was diagnosed with Leukemia when he was a boy and now he has a tremendous organization helping families of children with cancer. It’s just something that you only see in baseball.

As for David Ross, we couldn’t have asked for anybody better than him to lead this team through thick and thin. He will forever be a Chicago Cub.

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Connor Jennings @ChiCubsUpdates

Northside Mailbag

Northside Mailbag

  1. In your opinion, who is the odd man out for the playoff roster?

Odd man out, the most awkward decision. You have to go with Jason Hammel. I know I’m not alone in that sentiment. He’s just not fitting in that playoff mentality and I worry if he can get the job done in a postseason setting. He had a solid season when it came to Wrigley but struggled on the road. 2-5 in his last seven starts doesn’t cut it. Player-wise if you’re looking at the roster, that’s such a difficult decision. People have discussed Zobrist, which just shows how much the team has in terms of hit ability. I think it’s too difficult of a decision. You look at someone like Javier Baez, who’s much improved and is defensively a lock, but still struggles at times.  I’m going to let Joe make that call. Can’t we just add one more spot?

 

  1. Who would you rather have the Cubs face in the NLDS: Mets, Cardinals, or Giants.. and why?

This is a tough one, because they all give you a little bit of a fear. Coming off of two-of-three over the Cardinals, I want to say St. Louis. Pitching wise, they’ve struggled and if the offense stays consistent the run support is there. I’ll go with the Cardinals. The Giants strike fear in any one on an even year, whereas the Mets showed star power in a 17-0 win yesterday. All three give a little jolt of worry, but I think the Cubs have a one-up in each scenario. It would be nice to get revenge on the Mets, let me say that.

 

  1. Who should be the number 1 and the number 2 starter in the playoffs?

I’m going with Hendricks and Lester. Let me explain. I like that one-two. Hendricks has been unbelievable and so has Lester. It’s been crazy to think about how little Arrieta has been discussed, even when he’s still getting wins. It doesn’t hurt to have a one-two of any of the three but I like Hendricks starting a series and Lester setting the tone after two.

 

  1. Do you feel better about the playoffs with the Cubs locking down home-field advantage or would you feel the same if they didn’t?

I think I’d feel the same. Is home-field great? Oh yes. I think it’ll have a big impact because the crowds at Wrigley are unbelievable. However, I think this team feels confident wherever they play and this really just gives the home fans more fun on the NL side of the playoffs.

 

  1. Jason Hammel makes the postseason roster, true or false?

Well my first answer showed my lack of faith in Hammel. I like Hammel, don’t get me wrong. He’s just struggled of late and isn’t a lock on the road. He’s really not. With four starting spots and five good pitchers, you have to break down the numbers. Hammel doesn’t fit in my rotation and other guys like Montgomery have improved after rocky beginnings.

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Connor Ulrey @ConnorUlrey

Montero Heating Up at The Right Time

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For most of the season, Cubs secondary catcher, Miguel Montero, struggled so much at the plate. In the past month however, he has changed his attitude for the better, and his bat is showing the change.

This season to date Miguel has seven home runs and 38 runs batted in. Montero has 47 hits currently this season, with 19 of those coming in the last 30 games he has played.

Sahadev Sharma of The Athletic reported that he asked Montero if he ever had a thought that he would not make the playoff roster. Montero, who was surprisingly honest, said “There was actually a point that I thought I was going to get released.”

The main reason why I think it was surprisingly honest was because it was Friday afternoon, right after he had hit the walk off home run to win the game and start the party.

This leads me to believe that Montero got into his head a little bit. He was obviously struggling, and we could clearly tell that he was disappointed in himself. Nobody wants to be the guy that does nothing on a team where practically everyone contributes in their own unique way. Montero was just in a huge slump.

After his walk off home run on Friday, his confidence level had to have shot to the sky. It’s exactly what he needed, and he got it in the perfect way. That being said, he should be nothing but pumped for the playoffs.

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Connor Jennings @ChiCubsUpdates

Cubs lose first home series since early July. Anything to fix?

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The Brewers went full spoiler this past weekend at Wrigley, taking three of four from the Cubs including postponing the Central title celebration on Thursday to giving both Jake Arrieta and Kyle Hendricks losses.

Unrelated but for the first time I’m frustrated about the Cubs being good enough to bench the best guys. Hendricks not having his superior run support gave me a loss in the semifinals in fantasy baseball. Kyle, you’re great but you got me an L.

Is it really that big of a deal? No, but some can understand how some little ticks can be taken away from the losses that may seem concerning. Maddon used the full range of players in the weekend, giving key days off to most of the lineup.

Whether there’s anything to worry about when it comes to the postseason is irrelevant when you think about it. The same concern has been there for the past few weeks especially and it hurt the team last October. RISP has been an issue. It’s what cost the Cubs last season, and it’s reared its head at times this season. Keeping runners from being stranded shouldn’t seem like that big of a deal but it’s something most know that the Cubs have been trying to fix.

Is it a huge deal? Potentially, but the Cubs have been better and I think come October that’s something they’ll hone in on.

What’s left? We’re so close to the postseason it’s not even funny. The Cubs will finish off their home stand with series’ against the Reds and Cardinals before heading back out on the road to close the season against the Pirates and the Reds (again!).

We’re ready for the postseason, are you? Send in your questions for the last Northside Mailbag before the playoffs begin!

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Connor Ulrey @ConnorUlrey

Cubs Clinch NL Central

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At one point or another, we all knew that the Cubs would win the division this week, it was only a matter of what day.

The week started out with a trip to St. Louis to take on the Cardinals. Monday night was the Kyle Hendricks game. Kyle had been no-hitting the Cardinals through eight innings. He went into the ninth without giving up a single hit, but on an 0-2 count, Jermey Hazelbaker hit a line shot home run to right field, ending the no-hit bid. If that wasn’t enough, Cubs manager Joe Maddon was ejected immediately after that because he instructed his infielders to go and calm Kyle down. Since when can you not do that, Joe West? Anyway, the Cubs ended up winning the game by a score of 4-1. Hendricks lowered his ERA down to 2.03. In his last 15 games he is 10- 1 with a 1.25 ERA.

In order for the Cubs to clinch in St. Louis, a series sweep would have had to occur, we all know it didn’t, as the Cubs lost the game by a score of 4-2. Jason Hammel took the loss, as he falls to 14-9 on the season.

The Cubs bats came alive on Wednesday as MVP-candidate Anthony Rizzo launched two homeruns, David “Grandpa” Ross(y) launched a two-run shot, as well. Jon Lester pitched a gem as he earned his 17th win of the season and lowered his ERA to 2.40.

The magic number was now one…

The Cubs returned home on Thursday to start a four-game weekend series with the Milwaukee Brewers. “It was supposed to be the magic night,” said every cub fan after the game. Justin Grimm took the loss after a two-run double from Scooter Gennett which broke the 3-3 tie and put the Brewers up 5-3 in the seventh.

The Cardinals lost yesterday, which meant that the central division was officially the Cubs, however the Cubs didn’t want it to go unnoticed…

The Cubs were down 4-2 going into the bottom of the ninth this afternoon. A Chris Coghlan single drove in Willson Contreras, making it a 4-3 ballgame. With the bases loaded, Addison Russell came to the plate and made it 4-4 on a single that drove in Coghlan. It was then to the tenth inning. The Brewers went down 1-2-3 thanks to the one and only Aroldis Chapman. Miguel Montero lead of the inning for the Cubs. Miguel, who has been playing significantly better these last few weeks compared to this summer, hit a walk off home run just over the left field wall winning the game for the Cubs.

In a post-game interview, Montero was asked if he had any thought about the if he would make the playoff roster. His response was “There was actually a point that I thought I was going to get released.” Today, I don’t see a situation in which Montero wouldn’t make the playoff roster. (Make sure you come back Wednesday for my article about Montero’s success this month!)

And so the fans got what they wanted, a walk-off win at Wrigley Field. It doesn’t get much better than this. The next month and a half will be the best days of your life if this team keeps this up.

As my tweet stated earlier:

“This is the greatest team in the greatest city with the greatest fans. Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. #GetYourPartyOn”

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Connor Jennings @ChiCubsUpdates

The Emergence of Javier Baez

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The Cubs’ rotation gets a lot of attention, which they deserve, but the emergence of Javier Baez is something to pay attention to. Baez has showed moments of absolute amazingness and made some aggressive plays that result in crucial outs. He has made the pitching staff’s job that much easier. “I don’t know if there’s ever been a guy who can put a tag on a baserunner the way Javy does,” pitcher Jake Arrieta said. “It’s almost like as soon as the ball is near the baserunner, he’s tagged. It’s almost like second nature to him. It seems like it comes so naturally and so easy.” Manager Joe Maddon said the thing that impresses him the most about Baez’s fielding is his ability to stay calm and collected, even after making a mistake. “He’s just a different cat on defense, got a slow motor, and in a lot of ways, that’s good. But then again, the energy of the play is high,” Maddon said. “He’s never in a hurry to throw the baseball. He’ll make his mistakes now and then, we all do, but how he does it is just different.”

As I write this (I’ll knock on wood), Baez has 12 errors – one behind Kris Bryant – having played first, second, third, shortstop and left field this season. But we seem to forget about his errors with his spectacular plays that other players probably couldn’t make.

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“It’s unfortunate that a player in his position cannot be considered for a Gold Glove, probably is not going to be, but he definitely deserves,” Maddon said. “People will look at errors sometimes and determine, ‘Oh, he’s made too many errors.’ I don’t know how many errors he’s made, but I know all the great things he’s done well exceeds what he’s done in a physical error situation.”

“You respect what he’s able to do, because you know how hard it is,” Arrieta said. “I’ve tried to do things like that, and it doesn’t look near as good.”

As exciting as all aspects of this Cubs team have been this season, it’s still exciting to watch Baez simply tag someone out or make an amazing play. He’s fun to watch and he’s proving that he deserves to be an everyday player.

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Gabriella Garcia @gabybabyyy