At Least the Manager is Set, Rizzo Does Good from Afar, Remember Fujikawa, and Other Cubs Bullets

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At Least the Manager is Set, Rizzo Does Good from Afar, Remember Fujikawa, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

The Little Girl had a(n outdoor, socially-distanced) performance of ‘The Nutcracker’ on Saturday, after which we decided to get some Krispy Kreme donuts. I got two dozen at the prodding of one of the kiddos, thinking that we could freeze some of them. Less than 48 hours later, there are just four left, and they will not survive the day.

•   As we openly wonder what the roster will look like next year, the Cubs have their manager for the next year+, without question, in David Ross. The Athletic reminds us how happy the Cubs are to have him, and I’ll add a little bolding to underscore the additional layer this takes on in an offseason that might feature significant roster change:

“What we saw, what we experienced, was a very successful first year for someone who’s going to be a great manager here for a long time,” Theo Epstein said during last month’s end-of-season Zoom conference. “We feel really good about having Rossy at the helm with this group, or any group moving forward.”

“If you set aside all the unique circumstances of 2020, he still had an outstanding season. He developed great trust with all the players. He was an outstanding leader of the coaching staff. He set high standards. He didn’t back away from difficult conversations. I thought he saw the game extremely well. He took a bullpen that struggled early and played an important role in bringing it along to a point where it was a strength of the club as the season moved forward.

“He just did a lot of things that great leaders do. One of his strengths, too, is self-awareness. He knew what he didn’t know. He was not afraid to ask for help from his coaches, from different elements in the front office. And he’s not afraid to learn from what didn’t go perfectly this year. We’re in extremely good hands with Rossy.”

•   It’s a very tough year to do the fundraising thing, but Anthony Rizzo and his foundation made it work:

•   Kyuji Fujikawa was a moderately exciting signing out of Japan before the 2013 season, as he was coming off a decade of absolutely obscene dominance in Japan, and he was arriving in advance of a season where the Cubs were trying to give themselves a shot to surprise in the first half of the season (after the first two intentionally dreadful years of the rebuild). It wasn’t an expectation that he’d be a stud closer necessarily, but a very good setup man on a two-year, $9.5 million deal? Yeah, there was reason to dig it.

•   But, like some of the other additions that offseason, the Fujikawa signing immediately proved to be a bust, as he struggled out of the gate before succumbing to Tommy John surgery barely a month into his MLB career. We’ll never know what he could have been if he’d stayed healthy, but he rehabbed with the Cubs for his two-year deal, took a shot with the Rangers in 2015, and ultimately wound up back in Japan in 2016. He managed three more excellent years before struggling in 2020 and then hanging ’em up at age 40:

•   Speaking of the 2013-14 Cubs, some old friends from those years playing in the Dominican Winter League this year:

•   Joe Maddon still doing his good Thanksmas thing:

•   Obviously it was a rough debut year for Maddon and his Angels, but with a new GM on the way and an ever-motivated owner, here’s hoping they can do a little something in 2021. I say that not just for Maddon, but because dang it, I want to see a dominant Angels team with Mike Trout leading the way. It would be good for baseball and fun to follow.

•   Great early Black Friday deals at Amazon today, including tools, STEM toys, RX Bars, cookware, Anker gear, kitchen appliances, and more. #ad

•   If you missed the report last night:

•   There are two promos today for Bears-Vikings, so jump on them if you want:

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.