The latest on James Shields and the Padres and Cubs is here, if you missed it this morning.
- Farewell, Josh Vitters. The former top prospect and Cubs’ first round pick in 2007 (third overall) has signed a minor league deal with the Colorado Rockies. Still just 25, Vitters became a minor league free agent at the end of the 2014 season, and it was pretty clear his time in the Cubs’ organization was at a close. Maybe he’ll figure some things out with the Rockies, but, if Brett Jackson is the cautionary tale that a lack of contact ability can derail a player’s career no matter the other skills, then Vitters is the opposite cautionary tale: you can have excellent contact ability up the ladder, but that, alone, won’t save you. Although he developed strange contact troubles in recent years (working on his approach, perhaps?), the story for a very long time with Vitters was that he was exceptionally skilled at getting the bat on the ball. Unfortunately – as we’ve discussed with guys like Starlin Castro and Albert Almora – that can sometimes work to your disadvantage, causing you to forgo waiting on opportunities for hard contact in favor of pitcher’s pitches that you can hit.
- Commissioner Rob Manfred confirms that the tampering investigation about the Cubs’ hiring of Joe Maddon is still ongoing (ESPN). It was reported this week that the Rays are insisting they have “proof” that the Cubs tampered.
- Tom Tango has some thoughts on the appropriate method to challenge WAR – namely, actually put some process behind it, and then set it free into the world for public consumption/evaluation. Until then, WAR is the best single, comprehensive evaluative stat we have. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect; no one is arguing that it is. But neither is it useless, simply because it’s not perfect.
- Cubs special assistant Ted Lilly pled no contest to misdemeanor charges in his insurance fraud case, which will allow him to avoid the harshest penalties (he’ll be fined and do community service). You can read more about the case here, and read Lilly’s statement of apology on the subject. Lilly says he made an error in judgment, and let it be a lesson to everyone else: it’s not worth trying to get away with a fib that costs other people money that they shouldn’t have to pay. Don’t do it.
- Carrie Muskat has the full rundown on Cubs uniform numbers for Spring Training.
- The Rangers have added former Cub Nate Schierholtz on a minor league deal.
- The Score’s Mark Grote will be joining Pat Hughes and Ron Coomer on WBBM’s Cubs broadcasts, primarily pre-and-post-game.
- If you read between the lines in this Chicago Business Journal article, it sounds like the Cubs got a nice bump when they partnered up with American Airlines on a new deal, replacing United.