Tag: Chicago

NLCS Game 4: How Twitter Reacted to Chicago Cubs’ Loss to Mets

Wrigley Field was a haunted house for the Chicago Cubs in Game 3 of the National League Championship Series. Daniel Murphy of the New York Mets again played the ghoul. 

Murphy hit a home run for the fifth straight postseason game, and he scored another run as the Mets jumped out to a 3-0 NLCS lead over the Cubs on Tuesday night. A man who would not have been recognized by some casual baseball fans a couple of weeks ago is now generating headlines literally every time that he takes the field. The Los Angeles Dodgers couldn’t cool Murphy down. Now it’s the Cubs being terrorized by the new Mr. October of New York.

You may have heard about the “curse” that supposedly hovers over the Cubs. Mike Vaccaro of the New York Post wrote about it on October 19: 

And by now, you almost certainly know that on Oct. 6, 1945, with the Cubs leading the Tigers 2-1 after three games of the World Series, Bill Sianis bought two tickets for Game 4. The War was over, but travel restrictions were still in effect so after three games in Detroit the Series shifted to Chicago; the Cubs needed to only split those games to win their first championship since 1908.

There are various versions of what happened when Sianis showed up at Wrigley that day with his “guest” — Murphy the goat. The most popular one goes something like this: The ushers stopped Sianis, told him no animals were allowed in the park. Sianis appealed to P. K. Wrigley himself, who confirmed the decision: “Let Billy in,” the Cubs owner said. “But not the goat.”

Sianis, incensed, demanded an explanation. And Wrigley gave him one.

“Because the goat stinks,” he said.

No matter the version of the story, this part is not in dispute: Sianis told Wrigley, “The Cubs ain’t gonna win no more. The Cubs will never win a World Series so long as the goat is not allowed in Wrigley Field.”

When the Tigers took three out of four to win the ’45 Series, a telegram arrived in the offices of P. K. Wrigley: “WHO STINKS NOW?”

That it is a man named Murphy who could have a role in the Cubs being swept right out of the NLCS has not been lost on social media. 


It is understandable that some fans of the Cubs and even members of the club are shocked following Game 3. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Murphy, who had all of 14 home runs during the regular season (h/t ESPN), was not supposed to become the most feared hitter in baseball. The renewal of the Cubs-Mets rivalry from decades ago presented, on paper, an ideal opportunity for the Cubs to end this “jinx” that has plagued Chicago since 1908.

What could have been a fairy-tale ending for long-suffering fans of the Cubs is quickly becoming a nightmare. The Cubs are not just on the brink of elimination via a sweep. To make what would now be an historic run to the World Series, the Cubs will have to defeat the following starting pitchers: Steven Matz, Matt Harvey, Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom


Somewhat ironic in all of this is that the fanbase of the Mets is about as emotionally broken as are supporters of the Cubs. New York sports talk radio host Joe Benigno is but one tortured Mets fan. He theorized, during a segment that aired on WFAN on Tuesday afternoon, that it would be fitting for the Cubs to put an end to their World Series drought by coming back from being down 0-3 in the NLCS. That discussion sparked talk of when the Boston Red Sox completed their comeback against the New York Yankees during the 2004 ALCS. 

Cubs manager Joe Maddon knows his history. So does Chicago first baseman Anthony Rizzo. 

Members of the Cubs have to remain positive. The team’s season is, after all, not over. “One game at a time” may be a sports cliche, but it is one that is true for any series. The pressure is now on the Mets to close the Cubs out before things get interesting.

Chicago fans may not share that optimism. Could anybody blame them? “Unfortunately, their history is losing” is a line used to describe the relationship fans have with the Cubs in a wrap-up video for Game 3 of the NLCS. That says a lot, and it is a gut-punch to those fans.

His past play suggests that Murphy will soon return to form. That he hasn’t already is astonishing. Once that happens, it should theoretically have negative impacts on others in the lineup of the Mets. That domino effect could be just what the Cubs need to turn the NLCS around. 

Then again, one would think that a franchise could fall into a World Series championship at some point between 1908-2015. 

The Mets have looked like a runaway train in the NLCS. Harvey being nailed by a rocket-shot line drive early in the series didn’t slow the Mets. Neither did a lost ball in the ivy that cost the Mets at least an additional run in Game 3. Outside of having blind hope, Chicago fans have little reason to believe that the Mets will completely fall apart between now and Game 7. 

Perhaps it’s time to rename it the “Murphy Curse.” 

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Kris Bryant Set to Make His Major League Debut: What’s All the Buzz About?

One of baseball’s top prospects Kris Bryant is set to make his major league debut as the Chicago Cubs call up the promising young slugger Friday, originally reported by ESPN’s Jesse Rogers.

Mike Olt’s move to the disabled list after a hairline fracture in his wrist paved the way for Bryant’s move, Rogers said.

Most call-ups do not generate the same amount of buzz surrounding the 23-year-old third baseman’s promotion. The news has Cubs fans anxious leading up to the team’s day game against the San Diego Padres.

The University of San Diego product hit the ground running in 2014, earning Minor League Player of the Year honors from both USA Today and Baseball America.

Bryant started the year in Double-A with a .355 batting average adding 22 home runs and 58 RBI in 68 games before moving up the latter. For the Triple-A Iowa Cubs, he racked 21 more home runs and 52 RBI with a .295 average in 70 games, according to milb.com.

This performance excited scouts and moved Bryant up reporters’ lists of potential stars. ESPN Insider Keith Law ranked the Nevada native as his top overall prospect heading into the 2015 season.

The hype continued this spring as the 6’5″ third baseman led both the Grapefruit and Cactus League in home runs with nine home runs, including this two-run bomb against the Angels.

Following a phenomenal 2014 season and showing promise in spring training, why did Bryant find himself on the outside looking in at the Cubs’ Opening Day roster? The answer: a bazaar rule in Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement.

The rule states that a player needs to be on a MLB roster for 172 days of the 183-day season for it to qualify as a season of service. If the player is on the roster for less time, then the team gets an additional year at the end of the player’s contract.

The decision to call up Bryant now is not only due to the injury needs, as Friday marks the 171th day of the season, qualifying the Cubs for this loophole. Experts around the country, including Yahoo Sports national baseball writer Tim Brown, think the timing of the promotion is predictably convenient.

Bryant thought he deserved a call-up toward the end of the 2014 season and talked to Rogers back in September about his opinion on the contract manipulation in MLB.

It’s kind of funny, all the rules. Coming into professional baseball, I had no clue. I didn’t pay any attention to it in college, either. At the end of my first season, I kind of know the lingo about all this stuff. I guess the system works in some ways, and in some ways there are some flaws. I can’t focus on that. I’ve always been high on avoiding the distractions.

Bryant continued to ignore distractions and make it tough for the Chicago front office to deny the young talent a call-up with his play this season in Iowa. He hit his third dinger of the early season Thursday night to go along with his .321 batting average before finding out about his promotion.

Not only Cubs supporters, but also baseball fanatics across the country, will watch with anticipation as Bryant steps into the batter’s box for the first time against the Padres.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

A Cubs Fan’s Tribute to the Legendary Ernie Banks

To some people, being a dedicated fan of the Chicago Cubs can seem like a struggle at times. Years—even generations—have come and gone without experiencing the long-coveted celebration of a Cubs World Series championship.

For Ernie Banks, there was never a bad moment in being a Cubs fan. It was always wonderful. He realized to the fullest that being a Cubs fan was a privilege and a joy every single day. Sure, there were difficult times, but all of those struggles would make that inevitable World Series championship that much sweeter.

Most Cubs fans have been waiting ’til next year. Ernie always believed this was the year.

Born to Eddie and Essie Banks on January 31, 1931, Banks grew up in Dallas as the second-oldest of 12 children. It was clear even from his youth that he was a talented athlete, as he was a three-letter athlete in high school—although none of those sports included baseball.

It wasn’t until he was discovered in a church softball league that Banks’ baseball career would finally begin. However, it didn’t take long for it to really take off.

Just three years after Jackie Robinson left the Negro Leagues and took off the Kansas City Monarchs uniform to break the color barrier in baseball, Ernie began playing with the Monarchs before signing with the Chicago Cubs and breaking the color barrier on the North Side of Chicago.

Twenty years later, he broke another barrier by becoming the first black man to manage a major league game.

Ernie was an inspiration to millions of fans regardless of their race, beliefs or even who they cheered for. Perhaps no other ballplayer played the game with such appreciation and respect. Even more importantly, he showed just as much appreciation and respect to every single person he encountered.

Despite the 512 home runs, the Gold Glove and the MVP Awards, Ernie Banks saw himself as just a normal human being until the day he passed. He never gloated about his accomplishments on the field, nor did he boast about his off-the-field accomplishments.

In 2013, Ernie was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor bestowed upon an American citizen. After finding out that he would be receiving the honor, he gave us perhaps the best advice that anyone can give: “Do something with your life.”

Boy, did Ernie do something with his life, and it wasn’t just playing baseball. He served in the U.S. Army, played for the Harlem Globetrotters and broke color barriers. In a world and game where true heroes can seem hard to come by, Ernie never failed to be a good example of how to live one’s life. 

Go ahead and Google “Ernie Banks.” Take a look at the images of him. Notice anything? 

He’s smiling in just about every picture—even in action shots during a game.

It’s a shame that Ernie never got to see his beloved Cubs win the World Series, but he’ll still be with all of us Cubs fans when they finally do win it all. He will certainly never be forgotten in the world of baseball and the world as a whole.

Many of us Cubs fans reading this never got to see Ernie play, but we all know his highlights and career. We’ve all heard the legendary Jack Brickhouse yelling from excitement as Ernie rounded the bases for the 500th time in his career. Most of us have walked by and admired the statue of Ernie with a bat in his hands and a smile on his face in front of Wrigley Field, a fitting tribute to Mr. Cub.

That alone is a perfect example of just how great a person is; even 45 years after his career ended, Ernie Banks was still in our daily lives. Every time we would walk into Wrigley Field or turn a Cubs game on WGN, we were reminded of just how much Ernie contributed to the team, game and our lives.

Take Ernie’s advice: Do something with your life. And while you do it, make sure there is a smile on your face and a Cubs hat on your head. Take joy in being a Cubs fan and being on this earth.

No one had more joy in being alive than Ernie Banks. Though he may be gone, his No. 14 will forever fly at Wrigley Field, and his accomplishments and examples will never be forgotten. The world lost the greatest Cub on January 23 and an even greater person.

Thank you for teaching all of us how to live, play and smile every day, Ernie. Now put on those blue pinstripes; it’s time to play two.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

3 Most Important Moves the Cubs Need to Make Entering the New Year

Though 2015 doesn’t officially begin until January 1, the Chicago Cubs have already kicked off their 2015 by making a huge splash in free agency and a few trades during the 2014-15 offseason.

Most importantly, the Cubs signed starting pitcher Jon Lester to a six-year, $155 million deal on December 10. Just days before, the Cubs traded for two-time All-Star Miguel Montero and signed his former coach from Arizona, former Cub Henry Blanco.

Other moves have included signing starting pitcher Jason Hammel and manager Joe Maddon, both of whom are key pieces for the future of the Cubs.

However, the Cubs still have moves to make before they can call themselves a World Series contender. Here are three moves the Cubs should still make during the 2014-15 offseason.

Begin Slideshow

3 Young Starters the Chicago Cubs Should Target in a Trade This Offseason

The Chicago Cubs have done an exceptional job at collecting assets in recent years, but with many of their young players ready to contribute, they will soon need to turn those assets into a balanced roster built to compete for a World Series title.

The Cubs have one of the best farm systems in baseball, but while their system is loaded with potential impact hitters, it is light when it comes to pitchers ready to contribute. Next season Chicago will have the good problem of having to find a way to slot the likes of Kris Bryant, Addison Russell and Javier Baez into the same lineup, but its pitching staff will still be mediocre relative to the rest of the league.

With many of their young hitters ready to contribute in 2015, the Cubs must sacrifice one of their budding stars in a trade in order to acquire a young starter to help lead their staff. Jake Arrieta and possibly Kyle Hendricks are a good start, and it is possible that they will throw money at Jon Lester or Max Scherzer this offseason, but adding a young, impact starter would not only put the Cubs in great position next year but for the years to follow.

Below are three promising young starters the Cubs should target this upcoming offseason in a trade. The criteria for these starters is that they must have at least some big-league experience along with a tremendously high ceiling, a pitcher who is truly worth one of the Cubs’ big-time prospects.


Zack Wheeler

The New York Mets and Chicago Cubs seem like the perfect match for a trade; two teams with their eye on being relevant in 2015, one with a stockpile of young hitting, the other with pitching. Cubs fans may have seen a preview of their future ace on Friday night when Zack Wheeler led the Mets to victory.

Wheeler was a top 10 prospect in baseball for a long time, and he has done little in his past year in the majors to create cause for concern about his future as a top-of-the-rotation stud.

Wheeler has had his hiccups, but he has still been remarkably solid for a pitcher who just turned 24, posting 3.46 ERA over his first 247 innings. He has proven that his talent alone can carry him to major league success, and if he refines his command and develops his changeup a little more, he could be one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Wheeler would be a perfect fit for the Cubs. Assuming Chicago makes a big addition to its staff this offseason, whoever it signs along with Wheeler and Arrieta would make for a very solid top three of a rotation.

However, because Wheeler has established himself over the past year as one of the bright young stars in baseball, he would come at a steep price.

The Mets may have interest in Starlin Castro, but if they were to trade Wheeler, they would likely demand one of Baez, Bryant or Russell. New York is looking to compete in 2015, meaning a pu-pu platter of intriguing yet younger and further away prospects wouldn’t be enough for a deal.

It is possible the Cubs target another Mets pitcher in a deal such as Noah Syndergaard or Jonathon Niese. Syndergaard is less proven than Wheeler yet the organization values him just as highly, but Niese could also make sense, and he would likely cost less than one of the Mets’ two younger studs.


Kevin Gausman

Baltimore Orioles right-hander Kevin Gausman struggled during his stint in the majors in 2013, but he still has a humongous ceiling and was rated as the No. 10 prospect by Baseball Prospectus coming into this season despite his less than ideal start to his career. He has still had some hiccups this season but has posted a 3.90 ERA while exhibiting the ability to be a future ace.

Trading for Gausman would be a tricky proposition for the Cubs because the Orioles currently imagine Gausman and Dylan Bundy leading their future rotation. However, it will be difficult for them to re-sign J.J. Hardy this offseason and could be enticed by the Cubs’ potential left-side infielders.

Gausman has truly elite talent and is a good bet to be a stellar starting pitcher for a long time. Adding him to their rotation would give the Cubs a much-needed starter who would be under team control who could also potentially become their long-term ace.

Despite Gausman’s relatively unimpressive stat line, he would still cost the Cubs one of their prime prospects. The Orioles would likely be interested in any of their elite hitting prospects, as they could put Bryant or Baez at third and slide Manny Machado back to short, or Russell and Machado could potentially form the best left side of an infield in baseball.


Andrew Heaney

Miami Marlins starter Andrew Heaney came into the season as the top left-handed pitching prospect in baseball, according to Baseball Prospectus (No. 30 overall), and he would be a great addition to the Cubs’ pitching staff.

Heaney struggled during his cup of coffee in Miami earlier this season, but he has continued to prove in the minors that he is a refined left-hander with above-average stuff who will be ready to contribute in the near future.

Miami would also love to obtain a premier power-hitting prospect to put alongside Giancarlo Stanton moving forward. The Marlins will be looking to compete in 2015 with the return of Jose Fernandez and continued excellence of Stanton, and the idea of adding a potentially elite bat under team control like Baez would make them salivate.

However, unlike Wheeler and Gausman, who have shown at least some major league success and were once considered top 10 prospects in all of baseball, Heaney is a shade lower in terms of talent. If Miami wanted to acquire one of the Cubs’ premier young hitters like Baez, they would likely have to include another significant prospect in the trade.

The reason the Cubs might prefer Heaney to someone like Wheeler or Gausman is that they could possibly acquire him without giving up one of their premier hitters. A deal centered around Albert Almora, Jorge Soler or Arismendy Alcantara could be enough to sway the Marlins into dealing their young lefty.


All statistics courtesy Baseball-Reference.

Follow Sean on Twitter: @SCunninghamPG.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Cubs Grades at the 2014 Three-Quarter Mark

It won’t be long until MLB lists the elimination number for each team in the standings.

It also won’t be long until that number is zero for the Chicago Cubs. Not that it’s a huge surprise for fans of the Cubs.

This year was penned as a rebuilding and development year long before Opening Day. However, what has gotten fans through a difficult 2014 is not the play at Wrigley Field but rather the future of the team fielded at the Friendly Confines.

While some of the starting rotation has been decent, other aspects of the Cubs, such as the offense, have struggled. As we pass the three-quarter mark for the 2014 season, we look back at the first 75 percent of the season from top to bottom. 

Begin Slideshow

What Cubs Fans Must Remember About Javier Baez’s Call-Up

August 4, 2014 may go down as one of the most memorable off-days in Cubs history. As Cubs fans around the country slept in preparation for Monday, Javier Baez was getting one of the best wake-up calls of his life. According to Carrie Muskat of the Chicago Cubs‘ official website, Cubs Triple-A manager Marty Pevey called Baez into his hotel room to deliver the news that he would soon be on a plane to Denver to make his major league debut.

Later that afternoon, Cubs fans’ work would be interrupted (yes, Lee Elia, Cubs fans DO work) by their cell phones eagerly notifying them that hope would soon be arriving.

Javier Baez is now a Chicago Cub.

Social media exploded with the news. Text messages were swapped, emails were sent, news articles were forwarded…”He’s here! Let’s win a championship,” they likely said.

Baez’s arrival is one of the most exciting events in the Cubs’ 2014 season thus far. One could even argue that it’s more exciting than Opening Day; a renaissance, if you will.

There’s no arguing the fact that Baez’s call-up is a big deal. It’s a huge deal for those who have been following his path since being drafted by the Cubs in 2011. But there’s a few things Cubs fans need to remember about Baez’s call-up. 


Baez is not the end all, be all

As of late, Baez had been on the metaphorical back burner in the eyes of Cubs fans. Fellow teammate Kris Bryant has torn up the minor leagues in 2014 and is currently hitting .314 with 14 home runs in Triple-A Iowa. Arismendy Alcantara, who also played in Triple-A with Baez, was the first of the Cubs’ core prospects to be called up to the major leagues.

Then, things changed. Darwin Barney and the Cubs parted ways, followed by Emilio Bonifacio soon after. The door to Wrigley Field’s second base was suddenly opened for Baez, and his dream is about to come true.

Regardless of the hype surrounding Baez, his spot on the major league roster in the future is far from guaranteed. He’s certainly talented, but he’s far from irreplaceable.

Read that one more time: Baez is not irreplaceable. His potential is limitless, but it is exactly that: potential. At the end of the day, Baez is just one of a number of talented prospects in the Cubs’ minor league system. 

Even after his switch to second base, the Cubs still have two very talented shortstops in their organization: Addison Russell and Starlin Castro. If Baez does not pan out at second base, the Cubs have backups in Russell and Alcantara.


2014 is strictly about development

Anyone who has seen the standings this year or knows anything about the Cubs knows that Baez’s arrival is not for a playoff push. Instead, it’s almost entirely for Baez himself. Sure, it’s also important that Baez learns to play with his major league teammates and vice versa. But the main purpose of calling up Baez is to adjust him to Major League Baseball and the lifestyle that comes with it.

Critics around the country will crunch his numbers left and right, including the author of this article. At the end of the day, statistics are the main judge of a player’s performance. However, his performance in 2014 is not about his batting average or home runs. It’s about how much he learns and grows both as a player and person.

By playing the last third of the 2014 season, the Cubs and Baez will be able to see his strengths and weaknesses. Ideally, Baez has seen the last of the minor leagues in his lifetime. At least, that’s what the Cubs and their fans hope.

Even if Baez’s time in the majors this season doesn’t live up to expectations, the last thing the Cubs should do is proclaim him a bust. Baez’s fellow teammate Anthony Rizzo didn’t do so hot during his first season at the major league level, hitting just .141 in 49 games. The Cubs have 52 games remaining this season for Baez to show what he has (though it’s safe to say Baez won’t play in all of them).


The Cubs’ time is ALMOST here

As mentioned before, Baez is just one of quite a few prospects in the Cubs organization and one of multiple players capable of playing middle infield. This season is not about the playoffs or fielding a winning team. The ultimate goal is to develop for the future.

After Baez’s call-up, the Cubs still have only two of their top 10 prospects at the major league level. Of those 10 players, half of them are yet to even reach Double-A. The chances of those five reaching the major leagues this year are minuscule. 

Cubs fans need to just savor the fact that better times are in sight. They’re closer than they were last week just with the arrival of Baez, but they’re not there yet. It’s darkest before the dawn, and the Cubs have suffered enough darkness to last anyone a lifetime.

Now, it’s time to sit back, grab an Old Style and watch Javier Baez and the Cubs take another step toward contending.


Statistics and prospect rankings courtesy of MLB.com.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

5 Things We Learned About the Cubs Through the First 4 Weeks of 2014

As the Chicago Cubs celebrated the 100th birthday of Wrigley Field on Wednesday, Cubs fans around the country will rejoice in the fact that they have…well, something to rejoice.

Although the team hasn’t won a World Series since they began playing at Wrigley Field in 1916, fans of the team are optimistic that a championship may very well be on its way to Chicago’s North Side in the near future.

Unfortunately, that time is expected to be a few years away still. The team finds itself in last place in the National League Central, already 10 games behind the first-place Brewers only four weeks into the season.

Cubs fans have had plenty to yell about, both good and bad. From multiple blown saves by Jose Veras to an 11th-inning game-winner against the St. Louis Cardinals by Welington Castillo, 2014 has been an emotional ride.

Here, we look at five things we have learned about the Cubs in 2014.


Begin Slideshow

Breaking Down Each Candidate for the Chicago Cubs 2014 Starting Rotation

Believe it or not, there is relief from the polar vortex that has been sweeping the nation.

Just close your eyes.

Picture yourself in beautiful, 70-degree Mesa, Arizona. The sun is baking down on you as you watch the Cubs stroll out to the practice field. First baseman Anthony Rizzo waves as a little boy in a Cubs hat asks for his autograph.

You can feel the energy around you, like the ninth inning of a close game in September. There’s no salt or brown slush on the ground, only the flurry of baseballs flying through the air.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it?

Spring training will soon be upon us, but not soon enough. The Cubs have made some small moves in the 2013-14 offseason, including the signing of pitchers Wesley Wright and Jose Veras.

Pitching was a large concern for the Cubs in 2013, predominantly the bullpen. However, the starting pitching was much more solid. In fact, the Cubs’ lone representation in the 2013 MLB All-Star Game was starting pitcher Travis Wood.

The rotation is far from set. In fact, even the Cubs’ projected No. 1 starter Jeff Samardzija isn’t a lock for the rotation. Rumors have been constantly swirling about the possibility of the Cubs trading Samardzija over the offseason. However, those rumors have died down since Cubs President of Operations stated that Samardzija is the Cubs’ Opening Day starter as of right now. Most recent reports state that the two sides are quite far apart and that Samardzija will remain with the Cubs until the trade deadline.

The Cubs may also shake up the rotation by signing Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka, who is in the process of meeting both Chicago teams this week. If the Cubs sign him, they would have to pay both his contract as well as the $20 million posting fee for Tanaka.

First, let’s take a look at last year’s starting rotation. Nine players started at least one game for the Cubs in 2013.

 Pitcher  W  L  ERA  IP  H  SO

 J. Samardzija

 8  13  4.34  213.2  210  214
 T. Wood  9  12  3.11  200.0  163  144
 E. Jackson  8  18  4.98  175.1  197  135
 *S. Feldman  7  6  3.46  91.0  79  67
 C. Villanueva  1  7  4.50  90.0 83 65
 C. Rusin  2  6  3.93  66.1  66  36
 *M. Garza  6  1  3.17  71.0  61  62
 J. Arrieta  4  2  3.66  51.2  34  37
 *S. Baker  0  0  3.60  15.0  9

*= Indicates a player no longer with the team.

Jeff Samardzija

Let’s assume that Samardzija remains with the Cubs. His camp has already expressed interest in signing a long-term deal for the Cubs. As Cubs beat reporter Carrie Muskat writes, Samardzija would receive about $5 million in arbitration and mentions that that is a good amount for a starting pitcher nowadays.

As mentioned earlier, Cubs president Theo Epstein openly said during the winter meetings that Samardzija would be the Cubs starter on Opening Day. No other reports suggesting otherwise have surfaced since then.

Samardzija is a powerful right-handed pitcher, standing at 6’5″. His team-leading 240 strikeouts were 70 more than second place in the Cubs rotation. Only two other pitchers even reached 70 strikeouts all last season.

Travis Wood

Travis Wood was a pleasant surprise for Cubs fans in 2013. Wood struggled in his first season with the Cubs, posting a 4.27 ERA in 156 innings. However, Wood found his groove in 2013 by posting a 3.11 ERA in 200.0 innings. Wood was also elected to his first All-Star Game.

Wood is eligible for arbitration this offseason. He has stated in the past that he wants to come to an extension with the Cubs. Last season, Wood made only $527,500.

Wood is a solid middle-rotation starter. Despite being an All-Star, Wood won’t demand a huge contract.

Edwin Jackson

We’ll be as polite as possible with Edwin Jackson here. The 30-year-old right-hander struggled last season, losing 18 games and posting a rough 4.98 ERA in 175.1 innings pitched.

Jackson’s command was an issue last season. He threw 14 wild pitches, an average of one per every 12.5 innings pitched. In 31 games started, he totaled an average of 5.65 innings per start compared to Jeff Samardzija‘s team-high of 6.46 innings per start and Travis Wood’s 6.25 innings per start.

Unfortunately for the Cubs, Jackson is almost guaranteed a spot in the rotation simply because of his lucrative contract. Jackson signed a four-year, $52 million contract and will make $13 million in 2014 including his $2 million signing bonus.

Maybe the Cubs should just stop paying players. Okay, so they can’t do that. However, the performance of Edwin Jackson after receiving his $52 million contract is the exact opposite of the performance of Travis Wood, who received only $527,500 in his All-Star season.

Chris Rusin

Chris Rusin was already being forecasted to be a member of the 2014 Cubs starting rotation as early as last September, and that prediction is likely to come true. Rusin‘s solid 3.93 ERA is lower than both Samardzija‘s and Jackson’s.

Rusin will make $500,000 in 2014 and is not eligible for arbitration until 2017.

At only 27 years of age, Rusin could be a solid starter for the Cubs that doesn’t require a lucrative paycheck. He has logged less than 100 major league innings is career, which could be both a positive and a negative for him due to his lack of experience but still young arm.

Jake Arrieta

Jake Arrieta‘s situation is quite similar to that of Chris Rusin but minus an injury. Arrieta is also 27 years of age and is scheduled to make around $500,000 ($516,500 to be exact) and also pitched under 100 innings last season. His ERA was a solid 3.66.

Because of Arrieta‘s youth and small contract, he will likely find himself in the rotation in 2014.

We will begin to find out more about the look of the Cubs’ rotation once pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 13. The future of Japanese ace Tanaka will also be decided by Jan. 24, with him either signing with an MLB team or returning to Japan.

Until then, Cubs fans have the three-day Cubs Convention to look forward to this Friday through Sunday in Chicago’s Sheraton Towers.

*All Stats courtesty of MLB.com unless noted otherwise.

Read more MLB news on BleacherReport.com

Remaining Concerns the Chicago Cubs Must Address in the 2013 Offseason

As Chicago prepares itself for its first major snowstorm of the season, members of the Ricketts family and the front office prepare to make the trip to Orlando for next week’s winter meetings.

Jealous much? Thought so.

Many topics will be addressed and decided on at the meetings, from the future of instant replay to the fate of free agents around the league.

Like every franchise, the Cubs also have many topics to address. The team has already begun to make moves, including the signing of free-agent reliever Wesley Wright and the acquisition of Kansas City Royals catcher George Kottaras.

Let’s take a look at some remaining questions for the Cubs in the 2013 offseason.

Begin Slideshow

Copyright © 1996-2010 Kuzul. All rights reserved.
iDream theme by Templates Next | Powered by WordPress