Chicago Cubs 2016 NL Central Championship Gear

starlin-castro-batThe Bears had some big offseason news yesterday, signing quarterback Jay Cutler to a seven-year, $126 million deal, but with just $54 million guaranteed over the first three years. What’s the baseball equivalent there? Strictly, it’s signing a very good center fielder/leadoff man (at age 31) to a three-year, $54 million deal with four consecutive expensive team options thereafter, or something like that. That’d be a pretty fantastic deal in today’s baseball world, but only because you’re never going to get a guy to sign a deal like that in the baseball world of uniformly guaranteed contracts. So what’s the actual equivalent here? Maybe something like five years and $90 million, plus a couple expensive team options, for that center fielder? Did I mention that there was a much cheaper center fielder who filled in admirably for a while this year … but he doesn’t have much of a pedigree and a great deal of his success looked like BABIP magic?

  • It’s New Year’s resolution time, which is an easy thing for sports writers to latch onto. The Cubs’ 2014 resolution, per SI? Fix Starlin Castro. If you could pick just one realistic thing to happen for the Cubs – not in terms of an outcome (“make the playoffs”), but in terms of some individual thing happening positively – would that be it? I’m not sure there’s one thing, on-field, that would help the Cubs more going forward than Castro re-emerging as an upper tier total value shortstop. Anthony Rizzo breaking out in a big way would be right up there. Travis Wood taking the step forward necessary to demonstrate that his previous success wasn’t just a luck-induced fluke would be huge. Junior Lake defying the odds and becoming an above-average starter in left field is up top, too. Jeff Samardzija (or Edwin Jackson) turning his peripherals into top-level outcomes. Welington Castillo taking the kind of step forward with his bat that he took with his glove last year. I suppose I could go on. But Castro is the big one.
  • If we’re going off-the-field, however, I’ll take a surprisingly lucrative new TV deal for the WGN games from 2015 to 2019 (and hopefully back with WGN, assuming the money is where the Cubs need it to be). Getting the Wrigley renovation underway and generating revenue (at least enough to offset the costs of the renovation, itself, for now) would be a very close second.

  • Speaking of the renovation, The National Trust for Historic Preservation came out with a list of 10 historic places saved in 2013, and Wrigley Field was one of them. Well, don’t count your chickens, National Trust for Historic Preservation, but maybe such a prestigious designation will be the final nudge that allows the Cubs and the rooftops to reach an agreement on getting the damn thing underway.
  • Cole Gillespie – remember him? – is gone. He signed a minor league deal with the Mariners yesterday.
  • Peter Gammons spoke to Tigers manager Brad Ausmus, briefly considered by the Cubs for their vacancy, who says that the Cubs got the right guy in Rick Renteria.
  • As Carrie Muskat reminds us, don’t forget the DeJesus Family Foundation’s karaoke charity event taking place January 16 (the day before the Cubs Convention starts). Details here.

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