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2013 cubs conventionSo, that was a pretty crazy day of playoff football, for those watching. Earlier in the day, The Wife asked me who I thought would make the Super Bowl, and naturally I said the Broncos and the Packers. That’s why I stick to fantasy sports.

  • Paul Sullivan previews the Cubs Convention, which opens on Friday at the Sheraton Hotel in River North (a new location after years at the Hilton downtown), and it’s not an overly positive take. After noting that the Cubs were able to sell last year’s Convention on the back of “hope,” Sullivan says it’s a trickier business this year, coming off 101 losses. A snippet: “Suffice to say the addition of well-traveled starter Edwin Jackson as the Cubs’ marquee free agent hasn’t exactly created a buzz. Most are bracing themselves for another difficult season in the rebuild, hoping it won’t be quite as painful as the end of 2012. Still, fans have to get past the botched Ryan Dempster-to-Braves deal in July, the decision to leave doomed pitcher Chris Volstad in the rotation in September, the aborted Carlos Marmol-for-Dan Haren deal in November and the re-signing of underperforming third baseman Ian Stewart last month.”
  • I do wonder what the atmosphere will be like this year. Last year, even though the team was coming off a terrible season, and three straight disappointing years, the excitement of Theo/Jed/Jason/etc. was enough to pump everyone up (the opening ceremonies were electric). This year, there really isn’t the same kind of obvious “thing” or “moment” to jack folks up. The change in venue also makes it interesting, because it’s hard to predict how the Cubs will manage the fan/player interactions, which is obviously a huge part of the experience for the fans. For me, at least, that uncertainty is what’s making things exciting – I have no idea what to expect.
  • Say goodbye to Rodrigo Lopez – after spending the last two seasons with the Cubs (isn’t it amazing that he actually made considerably more starts for the big league team in 2011 than in 2012? Think about the rotation this past September … ), Lopez is off to join the Phillies on a minor league deal.
  • Speaking of former Cubs pitchers, Ryan Dempster is still trying to decide whether he’ll pitch for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic. No Cubs showed up on Canada’s preliminary roster, but it looks like these rosters will be coming out soon. Starlin Castro is a possibility for Team Dominican Republic, and Anthony Rizzo is a possibility for Team Italy.
  • Somehow I missed Jonah Keri’s take on the Hall of Fame stuff late last week, and, as usual, it’s great.
  • A fun piece from FanGraphs: the worst called strikes of the year.
  • Fishin Phil

    Farewell RoLo, I will miss you like an abcessed tooth.

    • MichiganGoat

      And the epic conversation it brought us one day

  • Jim

    You’d have to think that the rumor mill will be turning this week!

  • CubFan Paul

    i’ve been expecting a ‘big’ move before the Convention for weeks now. whether it be a Sori for Dom Brown deal or a Samardzija extension, I don’t think the move is done yet for Theo&Co to point over and say “see..see!..This is awesome..This is rebuilding..2014 here we come!..Fun, right?”

    • MichiganGoat

      It’s possible that something could be announced during the convention.

  • LouCub

    Paul Sullivan can’t say anything positive about the Cubs because he has no inside info anymore..The guy is a hack and a weenie to boot!! Looks like beavis and Buttheads teacher but the dork version not the hippie..Sorry to be so negative but he is all the time whenever I watch the Comcast Sports Chicago stuff online he’s bitter and maybe needs a new gig..

    • True(ly) Blue

      Lou Cub, I agree with you about Paul Sullivan. He is laid back, lazy and extremely negative. Even more negative than Boars and Bernstein on the Score afternoon show. When I read his article this morning I was thinking how easy it is to change a word and change the tone of a piece from positive to negative. His words are all negative as he changed the signing of Jackson from a positive ( a pretty good ML pitcher at a good price) to a negative because we didn’t get Sanchez for a terribly high price. Give me a break Paul. Go write about the Sox, eh? (Either Red or White.)

      • LouCub

        (True)ly Blue, I wish he’d go somewhere else too…the Cubs need a solid beatwriter not an indignant little turd like Sully

  • CubFan Paul

    It definitely appears to me that today’s Homeplate Umps aren’t looking for the strike/ball/call as the ball crosses the plate, they’re looking down at the catcher’s glove and they call the strike/ball where the cather’s glove ends up.

    Kind of hard to explain but its a trend thats been getting worse over the past couple years. I’m 100% for an automated strike zone, i watch too many games to see pitching performances cut short by shaky catching and bad umping (5-6innings pitched versus a solid 7 or 8IP)

    ..Wellington Castillo *struggled* mightily last year receiving. A lot of strikes crossing the plate were called balls because of his inability to sit still and catch.

  • http://Bleachernation.com Ramy16

    According to mlbtraderumors.com.. DBacks are now interested in Mike Olt! Where previously they didn’t want him at all! I wonder why the shift in plans? Maybe a trade with the Cubs?

    • Xavier

      What do you mean by maybe a trade with the cubs?

  • TakingWrigleyToSaoPaulo

    Think arizona has run out of other good trade partners and have a surplus of outfielders. They backed themselves in a bit of a corner. Texas has good minor league agent and stand to benefit without giving up profar.

  • Andrewmoore4isu

    Honestly RoLo was never an absurdly terrible pitcher for the cubs. Yes he could only go 5 innings and yes he looked like he was 62 but sure as heck beats watching Coleman serve up 11 runs

  • http://Isa Voice of reason

    What makes you think the diamond backs want to make a trade with the cubs because they are interested in olt??????

    • Fastball

      Back from my extended travel. got your back on these Diamondback discussions and why the Rangers won’t trade for Garza. :)

      • Xavier

        Why

      • http://Isa Voice of reason

        Welcome back fastball!

  • Fastball

    I would hope that Theo & Co. have put together something interesting for the convention attendee’s. Right now he is going to have a difficult time creating a buzz. My guess is they will be selling the rebuild and how much they feel the farm system has improved in 18 months ish. I will give him credit because it has improved. I’m not so certain that all the attendee’s are wanting to here about the farm system though. My position is that those are all very positive things. New ST facility coming next year and some improvements at the DR facilities along with Boise and the move to Kane County. If was a cynical Cub Fan attendee I would say that’s all great Theo but what about Chicago? He has to sell the fact they have signed a lot of pitching depth this off season and that he isn’t done just yet. I am happy with what he has done regarding pitching. Many didn’t see him going out and signing this many pitchers via free agency. I was saying all along that he should sign as many as he can because it is the glaring weakness. Many think the Feldman and Baker signings for 1 year are trade deadline flip guys. I believe if these two especially Baker are pitching really well we need to keep them. I agree with flipping a few but I also home a few end up being keepers.

    On the positional player front I feel this off season to date has been a disappointment to a degree. There simply was no Third Basemen to invest in via free agency. So he did all he could do and re-sign Stewart. That was a no risk move. I personally don’t want to him to trade for Olt. I think he could sign Bourn to play the CF and hit leadoff. Slide DeJesus back to RF and have Sori in LF. That would be fine with me to start the season. If Garza is healthy I want him to get an extension. Our glaring weakness is 3B and I hope that we can solve 3B in house. Either Vitters steps up by mid season and takes the job if Stewart fails. Or, Jr. Lake steps up and takes the job away from both of those guys. What I really think could happen is that Lake could end up playing LF if Sori is eventually traded mid season. Lake has been playing a lot of OF in winter ball. He is hitting pretty good. If there is going to be a big surprise this year, it’s going to be Lake coming onto the scene at Wrigley and just tearing it up right away. Kinda like Rizzo and Castro did when they came up in previous years. He will capture the fan base hearts and will be a favorite for a while. Why would I say that it’s Lake vs Jackson coming up in CF or Vitters at 3B. Well they have already been up and people got to see them not perform. Those two already have a label on them as came up and didn’t take the bull by the balls so to speak.

    I have a prediction for late in the season. (I am a big Barney supporter) I think Barney gets hurt or traded and Baez comes up late in the season and plays 2B for just a little while. I predict he does exceptionally well with his bat and defense. He may very well not stay at 2B but move to 3B next year. The trend in baseball is to get this kind of talent moved to the Major League Level and let them play. 2014 Baez is the opening day 3B for the Cubs. If Barney is in fact traded we have plenty of 2b’s who can come up and play. Another prediction is that Vitters comes up after hitting the cover off the ball at AAA. He doesn’t fit at 3B but is moved to RF when DeJesus is traded. Vitters ends up playing RF and looking very good defensively. But most importantly he hits better than anyone envisions.

    Maybe at the Cubs Convention Theo should have all this on a real nice Power Point slide show. If he’s a half way decent presenter that could create a buzz.

    • MichCubFan

      Baez won’t be up until 2015

      A+, AA in 2013
      AA, AAA in 2014
      AAA, Majors in 2015.

      So really mid-2015 is probably the most realistic ETA…barring any setbacks. He would have to be ahead of schedule to start 2015 in the majors.

      • CubFan Paul

        What if Baez has an overall 2013 line of .300/.400/.550 between A+/AA? He’d definitely get a 2014 call up if not 3B right out of Spring.

        • http://www.viewfromthebleachers.com Norm

          Then he might start in AAA. Perhaps AA, depending on number of reps in AA.

        • DocPeterWimsey

          If Baez posts an isoD of 0.100 for an entire year, then I will be (very pleasantly) stunned….

          • Marc

            Yeah, that would require a small miracle.

    • Toby

      If Barney get injured they’ll most likely play Valbuena at 2nd. If they want to bring someone from the minors they’ll most likely call Watkins. Baez has yet to prove he can hit above A ball and hasn’t gotten any reps at 2nd.

  • Fastball

    sorry for the bible post. I have been traveling on business in Europe for about 10 days. I got home and had to write something. I never thought I would miss being on BN except for a few minor blips.

    Kinda like part of my life was missing.

  • Fastball

    Actually RoLo looks like a kid. Ever see him in person? The dude looks like a rookie call up. He must have a fountain of youth in his backyard.

    • TWC

      It’s too bad that he didn’t have a fountain of good back there, too.

  • Fastball

    I doubt that Arizona has run out of potential trade partners. If they are actually going to trade Upton it will be to the Braves or the Rangers. Both of those teams are waiting out the market and have no reason to be in a big hurry to get a deal done just yet. If some mystery team jumps in on Upton then they might act sooner. You didn’t see them jumping the gun when the Mariner deal went through. That’s because Upton’s agent already told those GM’s that Upton wasn’t going to the Mariner’s. That was really a half assed ploy by the Diamondbacks to get these other teams to speed things up. The Rangers and Braves GM’s have been in business a little longer than the Diamondbacks GM. He didn’t hurt himself too much trying to make a deal with the Mariners. He did set the market for an Upton trade. Letting the trade package get out into the media was a huge mistake. Now he won’t get that from anyone. The later the off season gets with regard to Arizona and Upton the more of buyers market it will become. The Diamondback GM just got out in front of his ski’s signing all these outfielders and not already having an Upton deal done with the ink dry.

    • CubFan Paul

      The Braves can’t afford j.Upton. They went into the offseason with a set amount to spend & they’ve just about spent it.

  • T Larson

    I was checking the Cubs transaction so far this winter. They have made a lot of moves and none of them were trades. That’s quite different from last season.

  • Anton

    I know the Sunday Tribune usually comes out with the full list of players attending. If anybody found this full list, which is usually just an ad and doesn’t appear online, could you please post it on here. Thank you.

  • cavemencubbie

    Years ago, when I was lad, I lived for the Trib sports page. The writers were upbeat and optimistic even when the Chicago teams were crap. We knew they were crap; but writing is about hope is a good thing as hope springs eternal. It would seem that Sullivan doesn’t believe in hope and would be better off digging ditches rather than writing.

  • J. Edwards

    Anyone see the recent Ken Burns interview about steroids and the HOF where he said “those [expletives] should suffer a while”?

    It actually had some interesting points to make, aside from the fact that Ken Burns knows a bad word.

    I hate posting links (to the Hollywood Reporter) but it was also referenced in the article Brett mentioned. Here it is:

    http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/ken-burns-clemens-bonds-baseball-409759

    • DarthHater

      “Ken Burns knows a bad word.”

      I am cancelling my subscription to public television immediately.

  • Toby

    I think Baez will be at the convention on Saturday with Szczur and other kids. The proposed renovations will be unveiled as well that day.

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