wrigley field featuredThree years ago today, the new Chicago Cubs front office made one of the best moves it’s made to date: trading Andrew Cashner and Kyung-Min Na to the Padres for Anthony Rizzo and Zach Cates. Cashner has become a great starter for the Padres, but Rizzo has emerged as a borderline MVP candidate, and is signed to a long-term, team-friendly deal.

  • In tandem with yesterday’s announcement that pitchers and catchers will report for Spring Training on February 19 (aaahhhhhhh…), the Cubs also confirmed two sets of additional Spring games that we’ve discussed before: the team will take its annual split squad trip to Las Vegas, playing there against the A’s on March 13 and 14; and the team will once again play two exhibition games against the Diamondbacks on April 3 and 4 at Chase Field. That April 4 game, which was undoubtedly planned and internally scheduled a long time ago, is pretty notable. Why? Because the Cubs and Cardinals were tabbed by ESPN to be the Opening Night Game on Sunday, that means the Cubs will have no time at Wrigley Field before they actually open – they’ll go directly from the game on the 4th in Arizona to opening the season in Chicago on the 5th. I’m not too worried about the Cubs not being ready (that April 4 game will assuredly feature a whole lot of Cubs prospects and bench players, rather than regulars), but the travel might be a pain in the butt, even for a night game on the 5th. By contrast, the Cardinals play their final “Spring” game on April 3 in Tennessee against a minor league squad.
  • Otherwise, here’s the Spring schedule as originally announced, if you missed it. Single game tickets for Spring Training go on sale Saturday, January 10 at 11 a.m. CT at the Cubs Park ticket office, on www.cubs.com, or by calling 1-800-THE-CUBS.
  • As for the Opener on the 5th, will the bleachers be open (where else am I gonna sit, man?!)? It remains dicey, but the construction crew is apparently comprised of troopers:

  • The Cubs have said that, if the bleachers are not able to be open for Opening Day (which would be embarrassing, to say the least, even if it proves to not be entirely their fault), they can accommodate bleacher season ticket holders in the grandstand (and they will not sell single game bleacher tickets).
  • Hall of Fame results come later today, and Buster Olney – who is abstaining from voting because he knows that the mere fact of submitting a ballot will hurt some worthy candidates, because of the 10-name limit – takes down the many difficulties associated with trying to draw lines between Hall-worthy probably-not-PED-users, and not-Hall-worthy definitely-probably-PED-users. For me, I think I’d just have to vote for everyone, regardless of any PED suspicion (or even confirmation). There’s too much we don’t know about who used, who didn’t, how much it helped, how much it hurt, etc. Throw in MLB’s tacit acceptance of the usage for years, and I don’t think I’m in a place to draw those arbitrary lines. So, for me, Barry Bonds is a Hall of Famer. Roger Clemens is a Hall of Famer. And if you want to explain on their plaques that they were linked to PEDs in an era of rampant PED usage? Fine.
  • (However, I don’t think Sammy Sosa is a Hall of Famer, even if you ignore any possible PED stuff.)
  • Putting this here in case you missed it (and I’ll have much more on Convention plans next week):

  • Pitchers wins/losses is a bad stat because, among other reasons, they put everything on the pitcher (when the offense may have actually dictated the outcome of the game). No, that’s not my argument – it’s the argument experts made about the pitcher W/L stat the first time they ever wrote about it back in 1888. I can’t even. At least not after last year when I even’d so frequently.
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