kyle hendricks iowa cubsI am the epitome of a sports mental midget. I was playing tennis last night with a buddy to whom I am the Washington Generals to his Harlem Globetrotters. I have never beaten him. I’m up 3-0 in the first set, and up 30-love in the fourth game, and it hits me, “Wow. I am playing really well. I am crushing him. I might finally win.” I lost the next 10 straight points. I lost six of the next seven games, and I lost the set. And all the while, I kicked balls. I cursed. I nearly threw my racquet more times than I can count. I have no TWTW.

  • Carrie Muskat says that yesterday’s signee Joel Pineiro (more about the signing here) will head to Mesa to ramp up, and then will be assigned to the Iowa Cubs. If Pineiro is going to start at Iowa, there’s a pretty considerable rotation crunch. Consider that we know the rotation will feature Chris Rusin, Kyle Hendricks and Eric Jokisch. Neil Ramirez will presumably be given the opportunity to continue starting, given the upside. Carlos Pimentel is an interesting starting prospect at AAA. Dallas Beeler is a legit starting pitching prospect who will be at AAA. Barret Loux is, I believe, coming back from an injury, so he might not take a spot. Yoanner Negrin is a fringier type, and he might be a reliever at this point anyway. Alberto Cabrera could theoretically wind up outrighted to Iowa, and was a starter last year at AA, despite being a reliever in Spring Training. Tsuyoshi Wada is still with the Cubs on a minor league deal. Even still, we’re talking about six legit starting pitchers at AAA (and four questionable guys) before Pineiro is added. I wonder if we’re going to see someone converted to a reliever or if we’re going to learn about an injury. It’ll be interesting to see how this all shakes out. It’s worth noting that the Iowa Cubs, unlike each of the other full season Cubs minor league affiliates, have not announced their Opening Day roster yet.
  • Just to clear up any confusion out there: Jed Hoyer told ESPNChicago that, yes, it’s possible the Cubs and Jeff Samardzija could discuss an extension during the season. It’s not like Opening Day slammed the door shut like it does for some players. But Hoyer also said he hopes, if there are discussions, we’ll never hear about it. (Challenge accepted?)
  • On Opening Day rosters, the Cubs have the most Dominican players (seven) in baseball. That’s kind of neat.
  • A profile on cerebral Cubs backup catcher John Baker.
  • A profile (of sorts – because it also kinda ties into the economics of the game) on Albert Almora.
  • We know that the Yankees and Red Sox are the most popular teams in baseball. It annoys us that ESPN stuffs it down our throats, but they do it because those really are the two most watched/discussed/desired franchises for consumption. But who’s the third most popular? Well, by one metric at FiveThirtyEight, it’s the Cubs. It’s basically just based on Google searches, and although the Cubs are waaaaaay behind the Yankees and Red Sox, they’ve got a healthy lead on the Dodgers and Cardinals, who are the next two.
  • A great piece from Carrie Muskat on the transition of Cuban players to the United States and professional baseball.
  • The Sheraton hotel scheduled to open in January 2015 next to Cubs Park in Mesa broke ground this week.
  • BN’er MichiganGoat has been working on something deeply personal and deeply important that you should check out.
  • joejoe234

    I don’t know if it really matters if they negotiate during the season. If they didn’t get deal done before I don’t know how much it’s going to change now. If he pitches well he’s probably gone. I know this isn’t the right spot for this, but I posted a message on the message board about tickets. I have season tickets but due to some issues I will be in Indianapolis most of the year and unfortunately not be able to go to a lot of games. I want to offer my tickets to bleacher nation fans first before stubhub, since they raise the prices by 20%. I have two tickets with a press box view, section 517 row 5. I’m selling most games for $12 first come first serve. If you are interested you can find the post in the message board. I attached a picture of the view as well.

    • Max

      Really going to do this on (nearly) every article? As you said, this isn’t the right spot for this.

  • Spoda17

    Well obviously Brett your belly-fire is focused on baseball and not tennis. Stick to blogging and kickball.

    Over and out.

  • hansman

    So do your choke skillz also extend to the kickball arena?

    I would love to get into tennis and was not too shabby back in the day.

    • Brett

      It’s weird – my lack of TWTW appears to apply only to tennis. In my team sport playing days, I was always locked in.

      • ced landrum

        I once was playing tennis and got so pissed I was going to throw my racket and stopped my self in mid swing for the throw and ended up hitting myself on the shin. Broke the racket and had a HUGE bruise on my shin. I decided it was time to maybe quit so I didn’t kill myself or someone else.

        • waittilthisyear

          i was a classic sports overreacter as a young man. yelling and throwing shit, very unbecoming. then one day, while playing touch football, i slammed the ball in disgust, only to have it hit at an angle that caused it to ricochet directly back into my face. everyone got a good laugh at my expense, and the lesson was learned.

          though i still lose my damn mind when i go bowling because i suck in the worst kind of way, so i just avoid the lanes

          • CubsFaninMS

            I was the same way. My brother was far worse, though. He was known for kicking the garbage can near the dugout really hard if he struck out (he and I didn’t strike out that often). I would just go into the dugout, well up, and hope no one smarted off to me. In my adult years, it appears my sports anger has transferred to road rage.

  • Ballgame17

    Always had mad respect for you Brett and your intensity on the tennis court has increased that level of respect. Gotta love the intensity! I think you’d fit right in with my buddy’s on the golf course!

    • Fishin Phil

      Scouts say – “Plus, Plus Intensity and Character. I love this guy!”

      • Brett


  • Blackhawks1963

    John Baker seems like a guy who has a definite coaching / managerial future in this game. I’m liking everything about his addition. Granted, he may not hit his way out of a paper bag, but that’s sorta okay because the primacy of a backup catcher is to work well with a pitching staff and be strong defensively.

    The rotation crunch at Iowa will sort itself out. Not all the candidates for a rotation spot are “equal”…nothing is going to get in the way of Hendricks and Ramirez being in that rotation because of their projectability. I would assume Jokisch and Beeler are considered a notch below on the pecking order. Rusin is a guy who can be tossed to the bullpen if need be…he’s not really future major league material beyond being a stopgap type.

  • Darth Ivy

    To kind of step out on a limb here, maybe the FO is planning on trading Edwin Jackson this year? If so, could that explain all the Iowa arms?

    Obviously Jackson didn’t have the kind of season in 2013 that would increase his trade value, so that doesn’t help. But what if he looks good going into mid july?

  • jh03

    I can be playing well in tennis and if I mess up one time I throw my racquet. In a typical summer I’ll go through 3-4 racquets. I’ve pretty much mastered playing with a distorted one until it’s unusable haha.

  • Darth Ivy

    do people think Valverde is worth picking up? Or KRod?

    • Darth Ivy

      just to clarify, I’m referring to fantasy baseball, not the Cubs.

      • Rudy N

        I picked up Valverde as im in need of closers. Is K-rod now the closer in Milwaukee?

  • another JP

    A topic like this would have never been discussed in the past ten years. As long as I can remember the Cubs have not had the luxury of AAA arms ready to fill in at the big league level, and the depth also extends to AA now. Waves of talent are beginning to show up at multiple positions, and it’s just a matter of time before teams start approaching Theo about prospect trades.

    • itzscott

      I’m as impressed and jacked up with what’s being developed on the farm as anyone, but it appears that major league play has gotten to such a high level that for a prospect making the leap from AA or AAA to the majors is so much more difficult now than it’s probably been at any time in the past.

      Watching Olt and Lake look silly in the opener just kind of brought me back to reality that it’s truly a crap shoot if these blue chippers become what we envision and if any of these second and tertiary prospects we drool over as depth make it at all.

    • Brocktoon

      Nobody’s going to give up anything of value for any of those pitchers we have in AAA.

  • J-Nasty

    Didn’t Barret Loux just have TJ surgery? I thought I read that somewhere.

    • Brett

      I hadn’t heard that, specifically, but it’s possible. I know there’s an injury issue.

  • section233

    In unrelated news, sounds like the Cubs remote parking lot went over like a lead balloon at a community meeting last night. Saw some clips on WGN news this morning.

    • Brett

      That doesn’t so much sound like a lead balloon to me as there are enough people in the world so that you can always find a few to bitch about everything.

      • section233

        The 15 second clip from the meeting on the news this morning made it look bad – but yeah, probably not a big deal.

        • FullCountTommy

          Ya and the alderman even said that there isn’t really anything that he (or she, I forget) can do since it is two private companies making a deal. Just a couple of neighbors complaining about marginally increased traffic (which will probably also increase revenue of local business)

          • Brocktoon

            Tunney’s backing away when politically necessary, he’s playing no small role in this clusterf*** Meanwhile his district crime rate continues to climb because he’s worried about stupid shit like this.

            • FullCountTommy

              The new parking lot isn’t in Tunney’s ward

              • Brocktoon

                My mistake, was thinking about the general reno stuff, not the lot. Too much thread jumping for me.

                • FullCountTommy

                  No worries, I’m always ok with Tunney bashing, just not relevant with this specific issue.

    • ChrisFChi

      I seen the same thing this morning. Looks like the renovations/development battle will never end.

  • CubsFaninMS

    Another good problem that we all have to keep in mind is that, now that our farm system is being stocked heavily with high upside talent, more fringe talents will have to be released. Some of those fringe talents are likely to put it together somewhere else and do well. This is another reason why the scouting department is so critical to our success.

  • Dustin S

    Not just rose-colored glasses after Samardzija’s last start, and I am usually all for drinking the Kool-Aid, but increasingly I don’t quite get the lack of a desire to extend him. It sounds like there is a chance (Dumb and Dumber flashback) at least though.

    • Norm

      I don’t think anyone would have a problem extending him, but they’ve negotiated and they haven’t come to an agreement. Either the Cubs are low-balling him or he’s asking for money that he doesn’t deserve.

      • Chad

        There is a significant gap between the two. I think ideally both would like to reach an agreement but it needs to be reasonable from both sides. If Shark continues to pitch the way he did his first start then I think the cubs will consider upping the offer but I think Shark will have to compromise as well. If either has drawn a line in the sand I think it is over. I honestly believe that the cubs will trade him, but only if it is an absolute haul. I think the biggest thing from the cub’s side is that he is so very cheap this year. So I have stated this over and over, but extending him after the season would be more beneficial to the cubs. Assume that he is extended now for 5 years and lets say $75 million ($15 million AAV), which is what most of us are guessing Shark is asking for. Assuming his expected arbitration value for the next two years, this is what the contract would look like:
        2014: $5 mil
        2015: $8 mil
        2016-2018: $20.6 mil/year

        Now if they sign the same extension (5/75) after the season
        2015: $8 mil
        2016-2019: $16.75 mil/year

        That gets them one more year of control at nearly $4 mil AAV less the last 4 years. I think that is much more valuable to the cubs longterm.

        The big stick up could be the no-trade clause as well. We don’t really know.

  • MichiganGoat

    Thanks for the shout out if you want to meet the goat and see what I’ve been fighting visit there are also t-shirts.

    • psu415

      Love the blog, MichiganGoat. As a Penn Stater I hate to admit that anything good could come out of Michigan, but I have already shared the blog with my wife’s family (which has a member struggling with MS). Also, I LOVE the acronym (FUMS). Brilliant.

      • MichiganGoat

        Thanks for spreading the word and I’m a Hoosier transplanted in Michigan.

        • psu415

          That’s a little better. Cognitive dissonance resolved.

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  • DarthHater

    “I am crushing him. I might finally win.” I lost the next 10 straight points. I lost six of the next seven games, and I lost the set. And all the while, I kicked balls. I cursed. I nearly threw my racquet more times than I can count. I have no TWTW.”

    You see, Brett, you are living proof that failure to perform in clutch sports situations is really all about mental toughness. 😛

  • DarthHater

    “they’ve got a healthy lead on the Dodgers and Cardinals, who are the next two.”

    You failed to take into account the fact that every Cardinals fans is worth at least as much as two Cubs fans. 😀