At Cubs Convention time, at least in the last few years, a couple of big names from the Cubs’ past tend to come up when people ask why certain players aren’t there: Sammy Sosa and Ryne Sandberg. Each is relatively explainable – Sosa has had a strained relationship with the organization and the fans for years now, and Sandberg left the organization in frustration after being passed over for a managerial job a couple years ago – but it does make the story of the Convention feel a little incomplete. One name you don’t hear as much about, but which is almost as clearly associated with the Chicago Cubs’ recent history, is Mark Grace. The long-time Cubs first baseman hasn’t really been back in the fold since he was allowed to leave the organization in his later playing days (when the Cubs opened up a spot for Hee-Seop Choi) for the Diamondbacks. Well, he probably won’t be back in the fold for a little while yet, now having been sentenced to four months in jail (with work release) for his second DUI in 15 months. I don’t have much sympathy for him, but I do hope he never does it again. As for his future with the Cubs, who knows. It’ll be a while, though.
Marc Normandin looks at the Cubs’ deal with Scott Hairston, and compares him to a similar outfielder who received a much healthier deal this offseason: Cody Ross. Hairston compares quite favorably, despite getting just two years and $5 million (plus $1 million in incentives), while Ross got three years and $26 million. While I can think of reasons you’d prefer Ross to Hairston, given their contracts, it’s pretty easy to say the Cubs got the better deal. By a mile.
Jason Martinez at Baseball Prospectus writes about the prospects who could have an impact at the big league level in the NL Central this year, and the four names that come up for the Cubs are Brett Jackson, Junior Lake, Tony Zych, and Arodys Vizcaino. Each is considered a second half possibility, depending on how the Cubs’ season is going – and depending on what trades they’ve made. I’ll share Martinez’s specific bit on Lake: “It wouldn’t be a surprise if Lake never puts it all together and never earns a regular starting job in the majors, but his set of tools is too intriguing to at least not find out. The 22 year-old, who has played primarily shortstop in the minors along with some time at second and third base, even played some left field in the Dominican Winter League. His ultimate role could be as a super-utilityman who offers some right-handed power and speed off the bench.” If Lake were able to pull off the super utility thing, the Cubs would absolutely make room for him long-term. He needs to get some consistency with the bat, to go along with his presumed serviceability at several positions.
CSN Chicago has a piece on the Cubs’ new affiliation with Kane County, and the excitement building there for the relationship (there’s a “Meet the Cubs” event there tonight, featuring Jason McLeod, Brandon Hyde, and others).
One of the rooftop businesses (not an advertiser here) appears to be having some financial trouble, according to a Tribune report. If that’s blood in the water, you can bet the Cubs will be the sharks doing the circling. However their plans with respect to the other rooftop owners work out, you can still bet that they’ll be heavy bidders on any distressed rooftop properties that come on the market.
The Cubs have signed undrafted free agent infielder Bobby Buckner – the son of Boise Hawks hitting coach Bill Buckner. He didn’t play much his senior year at Texas A&M Corpus Christi (put up good numbers when he did), so I don’t know if it was an injury thing or an effectiveness thing. There may be some value here, but when teams sign the kids of guys in the organization, it’s often a courtesy.
BN’er Nate passed along a story yesterday – he met Padres outfielder Cameron Maybin, who said (1) he would have loved to play at Wrigley, after Nate told him he wished Cameron had somehow landed with the Cubs; and (2) he considers Edwin Jackson a friend, and says Cubs fans will be thrilled to have him. Excellent.
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