Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

cubs mark priorThe Hall of Fame will welcome each of Tony La Russa, Bobby Cox, and Joe Torre next year. Quite a managerial class.

  • After comeback attempts spanning the better part of a decade, Mark Prior has finally decided, officially, to hang ’em up. Prior’s last big league appearance came in 2006, and it remains painful to think of what might have been. In 2003, Prior’s first full season, he was worth 7.5 WAR. By himself. He wasn’t the same after that, and we can argue all day about whether it was the freak collision or line drive, or the rampant overuse. All we know is how good he was and how fleeting the feeling. Prior, 33, will probably head into some kind of front office/baseball job, assuming that’s what he wants to do.
  • Chicago Cubs GM Jed Hoyer addressed the media in Orlando last evening, and, among other things, he noted that the bullpen in 2013 was one of the front office’s great regrets (ESPNChicago). It’s frustrating to look back at how poorly-composed the bullpen looked … but only in hindsight. Going into the year, there were reasons for optimism. Remember, Carlos Marmol was coming off of a fantastic second half in 2012, Kyuji Fujikawa was a top Japanese reliever, and James Russell was James Russell. Call me a fool, but I have that feeling once again this offseason, especially if the Cubs add another solid back-end arm.

  • Hoyer also spoke about veteran leadership on the team (and the apparent lack thereof right now), and how someone like first base coach Eric Hinske – who played in 2013 – can help in that regard.
  • Sahadev Sharma writes about Hoyer’s comments on not labeling the organization’s top prospects as “untouchable.” I’ll have more on that in a bit, but, in the interim, read Sahadev’s piece, because he’s good at writing things.
  • Love hearing from Carrie Muskat that those who saw Junior Lake play in the Dominican Winter League this year were raving about his outfield defense. He played mostly left field, though he also saw some time in center field. There were no problems with the bat, either: Lake led the league with a .343 batting average (at the time his season ended (presumably so he could rest and prepare for Spring Training), per Muskat), and also got on base at a .386 clip and slugged .457. His .843 OPS was seventh best in the competitive league. If the Cubs aren’t going to add a big bat in the outfield, then I would just as soon see them give Lake a full-time chance (preferably in center field, but I am assuming that will be Ryan Sweeney’s gig). He’s got the physical gifts to “click” into something special, even if his minor league history suggests his bat simply won’t carry a corner outfield spot. The Cubs have little to lose in 2014, and maybe a little something to gain.

  • Kris Bryant made the Arizona Fall League’s top prospects team, featuring 22 players from 20 different organizations. I tend to think that the fact that Albert Almora and Jorge Soler didn’t make the team, despite prospect-y-ness being factored into the decision, doesn’t really mean a lot. Looks like there was a lot of love spreading going on.
  • The Mariners outbid themselves for Robinson Cano. Probably not really, but it makes for a funny story.
  • BN’er Chris’s contest (free books!) is still going strong over at the Message Board.
  • And the Bears! They won big over the Cowboys last night, tying them atop the division. Jay has you covered if you want to follow a Chicago team that’s kinda-sorta doing all right. They’re in the playoff hunt, at least.

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