Cubs Get the First Game of the MLB Season, Pricey Relief Extensions, Cheap Tickets, and Other Cubs Bullets

Hi. It’s me, Michael. I’m covering your morning Cubs bullets today, as Brett makes his way to Chicago for Opening Day tomorrow against the Brewers. We’ll both be there in right field on Thursday for the opener, alongside Bryan, Luis, and Eli. In case you’re wondering, our token White Sox fan, Patrick, couldn’t make it.* So it’ll be safe to come say hi.

*Or did I forget to invite him? Ah, well. 

But before we jump into the bullets, we have to throw a little love to the Bulls, who clinched their first playoff series since 2016-17 last night. They might not be built for a deep playoff run this time around, but this season was a huge step in the right direction for the entire franchise. Hopefully, we feel the same way about the Cubs come October.

•   So today’s the final day before the regular season begins — a full, 162-game season, no less. And we don’t even have to deal with that horrible off-day following the first game of the season. Instead, starting tomorrow, the Cubs will play four straight games against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field, which is all kinds of fun … even if they have to open up against the reigning NL Cy Young award winner, Corbin Burnes.

•   Oh, and after the Yankees-Red Sox game was postponed, the Cubs and Brewers are officially the first game of the year. The last time that happened, Ian Happ led off with a home run in Miami that sent me into a freezing cold Lake Michigan.

•   As I know you’re all aware, the Cubs don’t project to be a playoff team this season (even if they do have a chance), but there are still SO many storylines to follow across the organization. For example, at the big league level, we’ve got (1) debuts for Seiya Suzuki and Marcus Stroman, (2) the encore performances of Patrick Wisdom and Frank Schwindel, (3) the development of Nick Madrigal and Nico Hoerner, and (4) the dormant upside of Ian Happ and Clint Frazier, among a million other things. In the upper level of the minors, we’ve got two top prospects, Brennen Davis and Caleb Killian, knocking down the door at Triple-A Iowa, just waiting to get their call up to the majors. And at Double-A, we could see two of the Cubs other top pitching prospects, Ryan Jensen and Brailyn Márquez, plus a handful of other familiar names, like Burl Carraway, Anderson Espinoza, Chase Strumpf, Nelson Velazquez, and Alexander Vizcaino.

•   Meanwhile, I’m not going to even attempt to name any of the prospects to follow beneath the Double-A level, because there are at least another dozen players to get excited about, half of whom are potential candidates for top-100 prospect status by mid-season.

•   Okay, I lied, I’ll mention Jordan Nwogu, the Cubs 3rd round pick in 2020, who can absolutely OBLITERATE baseballs:

•   Not everything is going to break our way, of course, but there is just so much to track and so many new faces and stories to obsess over. It’s refreshing.

•   Oh, and if you want to join us at Wrigley Field tomorrow, you, uh … still can. Quite affordably, in fact.

•   There are a dozen reasons the Cubs still have tickets available, some within their control, others not, but despite it all, that’s still pretty jarring. Brett got into the broader conversation on Twitter, if you’d like to dig into the mystery.

•   Speaking of all those minor league players, rosters are being finalized and announced this week. We saw the Triple-A group yesterday, and we’ll have more on Low-A, High-A, and Double-A from Bryan throughout the day today and possibly this week, as they’re announced.

•   The Cubs did a batting practice/promotion thing yesterday, with Miguel Montero throwing BP, and I can’t wait to be freezing cold and wet in this glorious landmark tomorrow:

•   Also, Joe from Obvious Shirts has a sweet swing, eh?

•   We all know Spring Training success doesn’t matter, but I was perusing the Cubs Cactus League stats, when I realized we weren’t quite treated to that one, dominant performance this year (think Ian Happ’s 7 HRs in 2018, or that year Albert Almora absolutely went off (I can’t remember which season that was)). In fact, of the 17 Cubs players with at least 15 Cactus League at-bats this season, only one cracked the 1.000 OPS mark … any guesses?

•   Frank Schwindel, of course: .388/.500/.556 (1.056 OPS); 3 doubles, 3 walks, 6 strikeouts. I know there are so many more important, younger players, with more realistically obtainable upside, in the Cubs organization this year, but I gotta admit … if Frank Schwindel can do anything close to what he did last season, it’s going to be a blast. He’s just too dang likable.

•   Jose Ramirez gave the Guardians a true hometown discount this morning.

•   In other extension news, Ryan Pressly is a very good reliever, but I am kinda shocked by the price of this extension, given his age and the fact that he’s still under control through this season at just $7M. Obviously, the terms of that vesting option can change how we think of this one way or the other, but guaranteeing $15M/year for two years of a reliever at age 34 and 35 a full year out is a pretty aggressive move.

•   Good for the Astros – and Pressly – and all, but I hope the Cubs continue to drum up useful relievers via big league scouting and development. It can be a real money saver on the margins that should IN THEORY allow them to spend their ample resources elsewhere.

•   Jon Heyman is moving his work to The NY Post.

•   One of those deep tissue massage guns are among the deals of the day at Amazon. I have a similar one and it is actually life changing for people with upper neck/back pain. Better than every other gimmick I’ve tried.

written by

Michael Cerami began covering the Chicago Cubs for Bleacher Nation as a part-time contributor in 2015. One year later, he joined Bleacher Nation full-time, covering the Chicago Cubs and Major League Baseball. Today, Michael runs Bleacher Nation, contributing as a writer (Cubs, MLB) and an editor for all sections of the site, including the Chicago Bears, Bulls, and Blackhawks, as well as MLB, NBA, NHL, and NFL. In 2019, Michael was the co-host of NBC Sports Chicago's Cubs Post-Game Show Outside the Ivy. You can find him on Twitter/X @Michael_Cerami

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